The Nose Knows: Mosquitoes Persistently Land on Frog Nostrils, Puzzling Observers

John Gould, a behavioral biologist at the University of Newcastle in Australia, has made an intriguing observation regarding mosquitoes and frogs.

Over the years, Gould noticed a consistent trend in his photographs of mosquitoes landing on the noses of frogs. This behavior seemed counterintuitive, as frogs are known to consume mosquitoes.

Gould’s collection of more than a dozen photos of mosquitoes on frog nostrils in Australia led him to conclude that this behavior represents a “highly specialized feeding strategy” employed by the mosquitoes.

These observations, published in the journal Ethology, could potentially contribute to a better understanding of how diseases spread among frogs, which is crucial for their conservation.

The mosquitoes, identified as Mimomyia elegans, are native to Australia and exhibit a generalist feeding behavior, targeting various animals such as mammals and birds.

The fact that these mosquitoes display such a specialized behavior when selecting amphibians as blood hosts adds an intriguing layer to the observation.

Despite the risk of landing on a predator’s nose, the mosquitoes seem to go unnoticed by the frogs, which remain passive while being fed upon.

Gould speculates that the area between the eyes of the frogs may serve as a blind spot, allowing the mosquitoes to carry out their feeding undisturbed.

This behavior presents a fascinating insight into the intricate interactions between mosquitoes and frogs in their natural habitat.

The behavior of mosquitoes landing on the noses of frogs can also be seen as a strategic and stealthy maneuver.

According to John Gould, some mosquitoes initially land on the backs of the frogs to potentially avoid being consumed, and then make their way to the nostrils to feed.

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This observation aligns with the theory proposed by amphibian expert Lea Randall, who suggests that frogs possess excellent vision and any mosquito approaching from the front would likely be detected and consumed.

Landing on the back and discreetly making their way to the nostrils provides a strategic advantage for the mosquitoes.

Furthermore, the reward of feeding on the thin, highly vascularized skin around the nostrils may outweigh the risk for the mosquitoes.

This area provides a readily accessible source of blood for the hungry mosquitoes, making it an attractive feeding site.

This behavior sheds light on the intricate strategies employed by mosquitoes to feed on frogs while minimizing the risk of being consumed.

Biologist Bob Hancock from Metropolitan State University in Denver has shared his experience with mosquitoes targeting noses, particularly in the New World tropics.

He mentioned being attacked on the nose by jungle mosquitoes in the genus Sabethes during trips to the tropics.

In recent lab studies, Hancock observed that mosquitoes tend to bite his nose more frequently when he breathes normally, as opposed to when he plugs his nostrils and breathes through a tube, suggesting that they may be attracted to breath.

Meanwhile, John Gould’s fascination with frogs and nostrils goes beyond scientific curiosity; it has significant implications for frog conservation.

His previous research has indicated that mosquitoes could potentially transmit amphibian chytrid fungus, a major contributor to declines in frog populations worldwide.

By amassing photos of frogs and mosquitoes, Gould aims to gain insights into the transmission of infections along the skin of frogs, with the hope of better understanding and ultimately protecting these amphibian species.

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John Gould acknowledges that while his research on frog nostrils spans three years of fieldwork, it is primarily a natural history observation rather than a controlled laboratory study.

He expressed interest in further research to understand whether the specific type of mosquito observed is capable of transmitting the chytrid fungus and how the fungus spreads once the mosquito has landed.

Lea Randall also emphasizes the importance of shedding light on the deadly chytrid fungus, which has led to the extinction of some amphibian species and negatively impacted many others.

She highlights the need for research to focus on understanding and preventing the spread of the fungus, particularly in the context of mosquito interactions with amphibians.

Randall intends to share this information within her organization and with colleagues, emphasizing the significance of this area of research in Canada.


What Things Should You Keep In Mind Before Cohabiting Frogs Together?

Before cohabiting frogs, it is important to consider several factors to ensure their peaceful coexistence.

Firstly, it is essential to confirm that the chosen frogs are social and not solitary, as solitary frogs are not suitable for sharing a tank with others.

Secondly, compatibility between the frogs is crucial. Some species thrive in groups of their own kind, and if a frog does not exhibit friendliness toward other species, it should not be housed with them.

Thirdly, the environmental requirements of the frogs should align. Frogs sharing the same tank should have similar environmental needs.

For example, a frog accustomed to a warm environment cannot cohabit peacefully with a frog from a cold area.

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Lastly, the temperament and size of the selected frogs should be taken into consideration. If these factors are not compatible, the frogs may not live peacefully together. Learn more here, What Frogs Can Live Together Peacefully? [Pair Combinations].

Muntaseer Rahman

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Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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