What Does a Mosquito Eat, Other Than Me?
No doubt mosquitos are pesky little critters. They show up when the weather is warm in the great outdoors and seem to zero in on humans having fun. After a summer night outside, a person can feel like mosquito prey. There is an entire industry built around stopping those annoying insects. Every year people buy bug spray, anti-mosquito candles and even wear mosquito repellent around their necks like garlic for protection against vampires. All this can leave a person wondering if mosquitoes have a taste for something other than human blood.
One interesting fact about mosquitoes is that only female mosquitoes prey on blood and only during a specific time in their lives, when they are about to lay eggs. A female mosquito needs the protein from blood to feed her little family of baby mosquitoes. This means that all the nasty, even deadly diseases spread by mosquitoes come from the lady mosquitoes.
These blood thirsty girls will bite humans, but they prefer avian blood. A mosquito’s prey of choice is birds. If birds aren’t available, female mosquitoes will look for blood from small, vegetarian mammals. Only after exhausting that supply do they turn to people and larger mammals. Dogs, cows, pigs and sheep are all potential victims. Mosquitoes are responsible for heartworm in dogs, so dog owners should be especially vigilant.
The most common source of food for mosquitoes, male and female, is nectar from flowers. Like their butterfly and honeybee friends, mosquitoes like to sip sweet goodness from the insides of floral blooms. Mosquitoes are sure to be present a field of wildflowers. They use the nectar for energy to fly. Mosquitoes like this yummy, sweet stuff so much that scientists have experimented with poisoning it. They found that when they lace juices and nectar with insect poison, the mosquitoes will be attracted to the delicious mix and will enjoy their final meals.
I’ll Take Mine Rotted
When not preying on human, bird or mammal blood, mosquitoes do not have a preference for fresh meals. They favor rotted fruit, and they often hang out near fruit trees. That way they can get the nectar from the blooms and eat fruit that has rotted or fallen off the tree. They seem to have a particular craving for cherry tree blossoms and rotten cherries. This is a great advantage to birds who nosh on fallen fruit. Sometimes they will find a rotten cherry, strawberry or peach with a delicious mosquito filling. Along with rotten fruit, researches have also discovered that mosquitoes are attracted to a stinky meal of Limburger cheese.
While they don’t eat everything that attracts them, mosquitoes are more likely to fly towards some things than others. Typically they are attracted to certain smells and visual cues. They then choose prey where they’ve flown. They like the smell of items such as shampoos and body lotions, possibly because they associate these smells with flowers. They are attracted to heat and moisture, so they will zone right into someone who is sweating. Mosquitoes also prefer the company of people wearing dark clothing.
But even when a mosquito is looking for blood, humans fall near the bottom of the list. However, knowing that doesn’t make a mosquito bite any less itchy!