At a relatively low magnification of only 197x, this scanning electron micrograph (SEM) revealed some of the morphologic features displayed by an Anopheles gambiae mosquito. Included in the field of view was the posterior edge of one of the insect's two wings. Note that this wing's edge is adorned with"fringe scales", which relay changes in wind speed and direction during flight back to the mosquito. Also note the small whorled structure at the top of the image, which represents the "haltere", the vestige of the second set of wings that has evolved into a flight stabilizing structure. There are approximately 3,500 species of mosquitoes grouped into 41 genera. Human malaria is transmitted only by females of the genus Anopheles. Of the approximately 430 Anopheles species, only 30-40 transmit malaria in nature. An organism that transmits a disease to another organism is known as a "vector".
CDC/ Dr. Paul Howell
December 4, 2012
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