How to Mail Mosquitoes

From Atlas Obscura
November 7, 2018

HE SYRINGE WAS FILLED WITH so many mosquitoes that they hardly even looked like insects anymore. Their wings, antennae, and other appendages were pressed so tightly together that the tube seemed to be holding a single substance—maybe even something hard, like a pellet or a puck.

We were almost positive that almost all of them would die,” says Hae-Na Chung, a technician in the biologist Immo Hansen’s Molecular Vascular Physiology Lab at New Mexico State University. “We thought they were completely smashed.”

Chung and her collaborators recently set out to see how many Aedes aegypti mosquitoes they could fit into a 10-milliliter tube, and how those insects would fare inside it. To load their lab-reared insects into the tubes, they first anesthetized the mosquitoes for a few minutes on ice (carbon dioxide works, too), and then used feathers to sweep them into the vessel. The mosquitoes are pliable and sluggish in this state, Chung says. That’s when the researchers depress the plunger and compress them down to one cubic centimeter.

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