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Winsor McCay (1912) How a Mosquito Operates

How a Mosquito Operates, also known as The Story of a Mosquito is a 1912 silent animated short created by Winsor McCay, and first shown as part of his 'Chalk Talk' Vaudeville act. The short was released to theater in January of 1912.


McCay and his daughter, "pestered to death by mosquitoes" at their summer home in New Jersey, find a professor who speaks the insects' language. The professor tells McCay to "make a series of drawings to illustrate just how the insect does its deadly work", and after months of work McCay invites the professor to watch the film.*

A man looks around apprehensively before entering his room to go to sleep. A giant mosquito (with top hat and briefcase) flies in through a transom after it finds itself too large to squeeze in through a keyhole. It repeatedly feeds on the sleeping man, who tries in vain to shoo away his assailant. Eventually, the mosquito drinks itself so full that it explodes.

  • This opening Prologue is presumed lost.