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Mosquito photo guidance

There are over 30 mosquito species native to Britain, and the differences between species can be very subtle! To help us identify your mosquito correctly, we have prepared some guidance below on how to take a good mosquito photo.

A drawing of a mosquito larva
A drawing of an adult mosquito
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Adult mosquito photo guidance

Firstly, is it actually a mosquito?

Read our mosquito recognition guidance first. If you're still not sure, you can send us a photo anyway!

Now that you've found a possible mosquito, let's take a photo of it. You don't need a professional camera - a regular smartphone camera is fine! Whatever kind of camera you have, make sure that:

1. The mosquito is close-up, in focus and isn't blurry.

TIP: Use a macro setting if your camera has one. 

2. You have good lighting.

TIP: Use flash if the mosquito is in a poorly lit area. 

3. The mosquito is intact. 

TIP: Don't squash the mosquito! For the best chance of successful identification, the mosquito should be in good condition (whether alive or dead). See below for key features that we need to see to identify your mosquito.

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At the adult stage, different mosquito species can usually be identified by features on five of their body parts. Hover over the text on the mosquito image below (on desktop) or scroll down (on mobile) to read more about what we're looking for and why.

1. Legs

2. Palps

3. Wings

4. Thorax

5. Abdomen

 

A diagram of a mosquito

Some mosquito species have stripes on their legs, while others have no stripes at all. The presence and pattern of stripes can help to identify the species of mosquito. 

Legs

The thorax is the segment of the mosquito below the head. The back of the thorax sometimes has a pattern or lines that can be unique to different species.

Thorax

The abdomen is the long bottom segment of the mosquito. Many mosquitoes have stripes or other patterns on the abdomen. The shape of the abdomen also differs in different types of mosquito.

Abdomen

When taking the photo, try to make sure that as many of these features as possible are visible. The best way to achieve this is by getting a photo of the mosquito from the back, ideally with the wings spread to reveal the abdomen. You can also send us photos of the mosquito from different angles.

Some British species have distinctive scales on their wings which can identify them.

Wings

The palps are the sensory tubes either side of the proboscis. Many mosquitoes have short palps, but some have long palps similar in length to the proboscis.

Palps

It's not always possible to get good mosquito photos! If you're struggling or unable to take a photo, you can send us the mosquito instead. Fill out the reporting form and contact us for more details.

If you find a mosquito resting on a surface (e.g. a wall), you might be able to catch it without squashing it. You can use the 'spider capture' method by placing a glass or other clear container over the mosquito and carefully sliding a piece of card underneath. 

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Mosquito larvae photo guidance

Firstly, is it actually a mosquito?

Read our mosquito recognition guidance first. If you're still not sure, you can send us a photo anyway!

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It can be tricky to get a good photo of a mosquito larva. You might need to catch it first, which isn't always straightforward - although they can't fly away, they wriggle very fast! You will need either a pipette or a small container like a cup to scoop the larva up. You can then repeat the scooping process using an even smaller container such as a bottle lid (ideally a white or pale-coloured container so that the larva is visible against it). 

To take the photo, make sure that you have a good close-up of the larva and that it is in focus. It is worth using the macro setting if your camera has one.

 

Different types of mosquito larvae can be distinguished by the presence or absence of a siphon, the breathing tube at the base of the abdomen. Read more about siphons and what they look like on our mosquito recognition page. We need to be able to see whether or not the larva has a siphon to be able to categorise it.

If the larva does have a siphon, we need a clear close-up photo of the siphon itself. It might take a bit of gentle manipulation of the larva to get it into a position where its siphon is visible for photographing. Identification often relies on being able to see small hairs on the siphon, so the more focused and zoomed-in you can get your photo the better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos: Emilie Pondeville

For all larvae (those with and without siphons) we also need a good photo of the head, as the patterns and hairs on the head are also important for identification.

A close up of a mosquito siphon
A close up of a mosquito siphon
A close up of a mosquito larva head
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Don't worry if you're not able to get a photo of a mosquito larva that you've found. Fill out the reporting form with as much detail as possible about where you found it. If it was in a public area, we may be able to do some small-scale sampling to identify larval populations in the area.

If you found the larva in a private garden and want to know what it is, you may be able to post it to us. Unfortunately, larvae degrade very quickly once they die, which can make identification very difficult. If you have a small sealable container and some distilled vinegar, you can preserve the larva by using the following method:

1. Add vinegar to your sealable container until it is about 3/4 full.

2. Gently remove the larva from the water. Get rid of any excess water on the larva by carefully dabbing the larva on a piece of absorbent paper.

3. Submerge the larva in the vinegar-filled container and seal the container tightly.

NB you don't need to use this method to preserve adult samples - you can send them to us as they are!

Please contact us for more detailed instructions on sample postage, or for any further information.

 

If you aren't able to take a photo:

 

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