Scientists Say: Vampire | Science News for Students

Scientists Say: Vampire

These bats, moths and other creatures love the taste of blood
Oct 30, 2017 — 6:50 am EST
vampire moth
It may look harmless, but this vampire moth is capable of sticking its hook-shaped tongue under your skin and slurping your blood.
Dumi/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Vampire (adjective, “VAM-pie-er”)

This isn’t just about True Blood or Twilight. Vampire is a word that can be used to describe organisms that slurp out the fluids of their prey. Vampire bats drink animal blood. Some vampire moths do, too. Vampire spiders don’t sip on blood directly, but they love a mosquito that’s got a blood-bloated belly. And mosquitoes, tick and bed bugs may not have the word “vampire” in their names, but like other vampires, they need blood to survive. There’s even a bird — the red-billed oxpecker — that likes to slurp from the open wounds of mammals. Delicious.

In a sentence

Vampire bats don’t just like animal blood, they need it; if they don’t get a blood meal every one or two days, they die.

Check out the full list of Scientists Say here

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

bat     A type of winged mammal comprising more than 1,100 separate species — or one in every four known species of mammal.

bed bug     A parasitic insect that feeds exclusively on blood. The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, sucks human blood and is mainly active at night. The insect’s bite can cause skin rashes and welts that look like a mosquito bite.

bug     The slang term for an insect. Sometimes it’s even used to refer to a germ.

organism     Any living thing, from elephants and plants to bacteria and other types of single-celled life.

prey     (n.) Animal species eaten by others. (v.) To attack and eat another species.

spider     A type of arthropod with four pairs of legs that usually spin threads of silk that they can use to create webs or other structures.

tick     A small eight-legged blood-sucking arthropod, related to spiders and mites. Although they look like bugs, these are not insects. They attach themselves to the skin of their host and feed on their blood. But in the process, they may spread any germs that could have been present in the blood of an earlier host.

vampire  A word used to describe an organism that feeds on blood. 

vampire bat  A bat that feeds on the blood of animals, such as cows, pigs and birds.

vampire moth A moth in the group Calyptra. Some feed only on fruit, while others also drink animal blood.

vampire spider  A spider that eats mosquitoes that have fed on blood.