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Mosquitoes – What Are They and Why Do We Hate Them?

September 11, 2018
mosquitoes

The Mosquito – What Are They and Why Do We Hate Them?

Almost anyone who is asked about a mosquito will shudder and express their hatred of them. They make us itchy, are an outright nuisance to people trying to do anything outdoors on a summer evening and there are tons of them. But what is a mosquito and do they do anything beneficial? Is our hatred for them justified?

What Is A Mosquito?

mosquito

Source: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-mosquitoes-detect-people

A mosquito is a six-legged fly that feeds on blood and fruit nectar. They are part of the Culicidae family of insects and there are 3500 named species of mosquito in the world. They have been on earth for more than 30 million years.

They lay their eggs in standing shallow water or even damp soil that will be prone to flooding. Places like ponds, marshes and swamps. That’s why it’s so important to limit standing, stagnant water wherever you can. If you don’t give them a place to lay their eggs, then they can’t reproduce and their numbers should decline.

Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale and lactic acid. They sense us by the heat and humidity that surrounds our bodies. To avoid detection we would need to be frozen and stop breathing. Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.

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Mosquitoes may also be attracted by the clothing you wear. Wearing something that is in high contrast to the background will allow a mosquito to zero in on you visually. If you are moving, it makes it even easier for them in a way. They seem to assume that e=anything moving is an animal and therefore a food source.

Do Mosquitoes Have Blood?

mosquito blood

Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/top-bugs-that-feed-on-humans-373908

The simple answer to the question of “Do mosquitoes have blood?” is no. Insects don’t have blood. Instead, they have something called hemolymph which performs many of the same functions as our blood. Hemolymph fluid is made up of things like water, proteins, lipids and inorganic salts. Although the pigment is rarely visible to our eyes, it is a greenish/yellowish color.

Try asking someone do mosquitoes have blood after they have just squished one. You’ll often see a blood smear. This blood smear is not their blood, it’s ours. The blood that comes out from a squished mosquito is the blood they have fed on from us humans or animals.

Probably the most well-known fact about mosquitoes is that they bite. The mosquito will pierce our skin and suck our blood. Not a very pleasant experience. Only the female mosquito will feed on blood – they use it for the protein which makes it possible for them to make eggs and reproduce. The males feed exclusively on fruit nectar so if you have a mosquito biting you, it’s definitely female.

The female mosquito’s saliva has an anti-coagulant to make it easier when she’s having her supper. She can suck the blood more easily when it is flowing rather than coagulating. Her saliva also causes a small allergic reaction from our immune systems which is why you end up with a red, itchy bump on your skin.

The Benefits of the Mosquito

Benefits of the Mosquito

Source: http://pesthacks.com/keep-mosquitoes-away/

We may think that mosquitoes are good for nothing but that’s not entirely true. The adult mosquito is a food source for birds, bats, and spiders.

The female mosquito lays her eggs in water. Once they hatch into larvae, they will live in the water for a while. While in the water, these larvae serve as a food source for aquatic wildlife like fish. They are an important component of this type of ecosystem.

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It’s a good thing that there are a couple of benefits to mosquitoes because there isn’t a lot to like about them, that’s for sure. Mosquitoes also serve another purpose which is to pollinate since both the males and females feed on fruit nectar. With the decline of one of the world’s main pollinators, the honey bee, mosquitoes may come into their own and help save the day. You never know. Then everyone would go from hating to loving them. Well maybe…

The Dangers of the Mosquito

danger of the Mosquito

Source: https://www.dailynews.com/2015/05/15/la-county-residents-asked-to-report-rare-potentially-dangerous-mosquito/

Getting a bite from a mosquito is definitely annoying but it can also be deadly. Mosquitoes are carriers of dangerous diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, West Nile Virus and many more. If a mosquito pierces our skin to feed and is carrying one of these potentially fatal diseases then we too can be infected.

To put it in perspective, in 2016 there were 445,000 reported deaths from malaria. This doesn’t include any of the other many diseases carried by mosquitoes that cause fatalities. The fatality rates are the highest in Africa where immunizations are rare.

To further put it in perspective, more than 1,000,000 people die annually from mosquito borne illnesses. That’s way too many people. These blood suckers are a real threat, especially depending on where you live. This fact alone should be enough to justify our hatred for them.

Escaping the Mosquito

Escaping the Mosquito

Source: https://pngtree.com/freepng/mosquito-bites_3151564.html

If you desperately want to escape mosquitoes, it’s going to be tough. They are basically everywhere in the world. There are, though, four places on earth (other than Antarctica) where you could move to that claim to be mosquito-free.

You can go to Iceland, The Seychelles, French Polynesia (like Tahiti), or New Caledonia (a tiny archipelago belonging to France in Southwest Pacific). I’m thinking that living in Tahiti sounds pretty good!

Unfortunately in most of the world mosquitoes are a fact of life on summer evenings. They will be a constant annoyanMosquito Facts

e at your outdoor dinner party, that’s for sure. A bug spray containing DEET will be your best friend and at least if one bites you, you know now that it’s female and can dazzle your dinner guests with this fact. There’s always a bright side, right?

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