Mosquitoes are more than annoying insects that buzz around and wait for the right moment to bite their host. They’re fascinating creatures that have adapted over the centuries in order to survive almost any environment. This makes them one of the world’s most virulent species, but one that we should continuously examine for insights into survival and control.
Here are a few interesting facts about these winged insects:
MANY BELIEVE MOSQUITOES CANNOT LIVE UNLESS THEY TAKE BLOOD FROM A HOST
This is untrue. Only female mosquitoes need a blood meal. A mosquito needs blood for egg development during breeding. Each blood meal consists of only five millionths of a liter. Male mosquitoes feast on nectar or other plant-based sugar sources.
MOSQUITOES ARE MILLIONS OF YEARS OLD
Over the years, they have developed into many different species. Currently there are 176 known mosquito species in the United States. This explains why some mosquito repellants work and others do not. Some species have “immunity” to the repellants.
MOSQUITOES CARRY A VARIETY OF DISEASES
Mosquito-borne illnesses cause the deaths of hundreds of people worldwide every year. Some of the most common mosquito-borne illnesses in humans include yellow fever, malaria and West Nile Virus. Mosquitoes can also give heartworms to animals.
MOSQUITOES HAVE VERY POOR EYESIGHT
Their vision is blurry, and they cannot make out an object until they are about 10 feet away. Mosquitoes are heat-seeking insects. They locate their prey by flying towards movement and heat. They also find their prey by smell. Mosquitoes are attracted to high levels of carbon dioxide. Active people are prime targets since they move around often. They produce larger amounts of carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes bite women more often than men. Women give off a variety of hormones with an enticing smell to mosquitoes.
MOSQUITOES BITE ANIMALS OTHER THAN PEOPLE
They also bite birds and small mammals. Different types of animals attract different species of mosquitoes. For example, certain species only bite birds and others only bite frogs.
MOST MOSQUITOES STAY CLOSE TO THE AREA WHERE THEY HATCHED
Many do not fly more than one mile away from the breeding location. One exception is the Salt Marsh mosquito. It can travel up to forty miles from the breeding location.
WHEN A MOSQUITO BITES, THE BITE ITSELF DOES NOT ITCH
The chemicals released by the mosquito to prevent blood clotting are the source of the itching.
MOST SPECIES OF MOSQUITOES LIVE ABOUT TWO TO FOUR WEEKS FROM EGG TO ADULT STAGE
Environmental factors such as temperature play a major role in how quickly the mosquitoes develop. Natural predators also help determine the life span of a mosquito.
MOSQUITOES BREED NEAR STANDING WATER
This is where the mosquito population will be highest. Swimming pools, puddles and ponds are common breeding areas.
MOSQUITOES LAY THEIR EGGS IN CLUSTERS CALLED “RAFTS”
The “rafts” float on top of standing water until they hatch. The eggs hatch in water and continue to live there through the next two life stages, larva and pupa. After the pupa changes into an adult, it dries its body then flies away.
MOST SPECIES OF MOSQUITOES WEIGH AROUND 2.5 MILLIGRAMS
The mosquito is a small, but ferocious creature.
MOSQUITOES CAN LIVE IN ALMOST ANY ENVIRONMENT
Most prefer warm, humid climates but some species live in cooler climates like Canada and Alaska. In some areas, mosquitoes that hatch late in summer will hibernate until the next spring and then lay eggs.
MANY MOSQUITOES DO NOT LIKE THE HEAT OF DAY
In very warm climates, mosquitoes will seek shade in bushes or shrubs. They wait until early morning or dusk to move around and look for blood meals.
Why Learn About Mosquitoes?
Some people may wonder why mosquito knowledge is so important. Learning facts about mosquitoes can be helpful in several aspects. Several cities and towns budget for mosquito control. Knowing which species live in the area, where they breed and the time of day they feed can be especially helpful in treating the problem. Mosquito facts help doctors and health organizations combat diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and West Nile Virus.