Harpoon head helps mosquito larvae kill competing species with lightning speed

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the University of Denver, filming the hunting of mosquito larvae, found that two species of mosquitoes can “throw out” their heads like a harpoon to grab a prey in 15 milliseconds.

Researchers studied the larvae of Toxorhynchites amboinensis and Psorophora ciliata back in the 1990s. However, at that time, scientists did not have time to capture the moment when the larvae caught their prey.

In 2020, scientists used a video camera capable of shooting at up to 4,352 frames per second, which allowed them to capture the moment the head was ejected from the body.

The larvae used the traction from the accumulated abdominal pressure to throw out a “harpoon”, which, with the help of bristles, grabbed the prey.

Moreover, upon impact, the body of P. ciliata remained motionless, while the body of T. amboinensis was bent.

Scientists also observed Sabethes cyaneus, which hunted prey with the help of a tail, which the larva waved. As soon as the victim fell into the mouth of the larva, its jaws were immediately torn apart.

In the future, scientists plan to study other types of mosquitoes.


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