Which mosquito causes malaria?
It is important to note that mosquitoes do not CAUSE malaria—the disease itself is caused by microscopic, single-celled animals called Plasmodium. These Plasmodium parasites live and reproduce inside the mosquito, and when the mosquito bites a person, the parasites are transferred into that person’s blood via the mosquito’s saliva. If another mosquito bites a person with malaria, they will pick up the parasites from the person’s blood, and the cycle continues.
Malaria parasites are simply transmitted by mosquitoes, and specifically of the genus Anopheles, of which a variety of different species are capable of transmitting it to humans. In Africa, the species most responsible for transmission is An. gambiae, which actually consists of a group of very similar and closely related species; the group as a whole is known as the An. gambiae species complex. An. funestus is also a wide-spread and important vector species in Africa. Below is a map, courtesy of the CDC, which shows the distribution of some of the main malaria vector mosquitoes worldwide.