The Bugs of Summer: Mosquitoes

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A mosquito of the Anopheles genus takes a meal, during which it can transmit diseases including malaria. © CDC/J. Gathany

A mosquito of the Anopheles genus takes a meal, during which it can transmit diseases including malaria.

© CDC/J. Gathany


As we enter the dog days of summer, it’s a reminder that the season isn’t all beach trips and ice cream trucks. Some summer things we’d happily leave behind, and mosquitoes are near the top of that list. 

While many campers and hikers have had a day out spoiled by their itchy bites, these insects are more than just a nuisance. They’re capable of spreading deadly diseases like malaria, West Nile virus, and yellow fever.

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The Museum debuted its giant model of the Anopheles mosquito—one of the species known for transmitting malaria—in 1917 as part of an effort to educate visitors about the health dangers posted by these tiny pests.

Today, you can still see the model, which is 75 times the size of a real-life insect, in the Hall of North American Forests. But please, fight the urge to swat it. This model is of a male mosquito, and only females suck blood—so only females are responsible for spreading disease.

To learn more about efforts to wipe out diseases by targeting mosquitos and other organisms that carry them, visit the special exhibition Countdown to Zero.