Do mosquitoes bite or sting? This is a common question that many people have. What even is a mosquito bite? Do mosquitoes bite you like a dog, or do they sting you like a wasp? The answer might surprise you!
In this blog post, we will discuss the difference between mosquito bites and stings. We will also explore how mosquitoes spread diseases and what you can do if you have a mosquito problem. Stay tuned!
Do Mosquitoes Bite?
No, and here is why. First, they must detect you. Mosquitoes can detect your sweat and the carbon dioxide you breathe out from as far as 55 yards away – more than half the length of a football field. Once they have detected you, they zoom in on you, and as they close in, your signals to them get increasingly stronger. Then they land.
Mosquitoes are very light, and the first most know of their presence is when they ‘bite’ you – only they aren’t biting. They are sticking a needle in you.
Many people get caught up in the language of whether mosquitoes bite or sting. And those are two different things! In fact, mosquitoes do not have teeth like we do, so they cannot bite in the traditional sense. Instead, they have a sharp proboscis (mouthpart) that they use to pierce the skin and draw blood. This is how they get the sustenance they need to live.
Unlike a spider bite or a bee sting, a mosquito bite is not poisonous. So, if a mosquito bites you, it will not inject any venom or poison into your system.
Check out this image:
You can see a long proboscis on the mosquito jabbing into the victim’s skin. This is just like a hypodermic needle, with a channel running up its center. The mosquito finds a vein or capillary and then sucks your blood up through the needle.
The reason only the female mosquito ‘bites’ is because they need your blood to create their eggs. They extract the protein from the blood and use that for their eggs. We will continue to use the term ‘bite’ because it is the most common term, but the insect is not really biting you – it is sucking your blood! Both males and females feed from plant nectar.
So, What Is a Mosquito Bite?
So it’s not a bite! Neither is it a sting. Stings are also needles, but stings inject something into you rather than draw blood from you. Stings commonly contain peptides, enzymes, histamine and other proteins according to the insect. They activate nerve cells to give the sensation of pain – sometimes very severe.
Mosquitoes do not sting in this way. They inject you with their proboscis which then moves around and probes until it finds a blood vessel. The proboscis contains two tubes, unlike just the one in a hypodermic syringe. It uses one of these tubes to inject saliva that contains a mix of chemicals to reduce pain, thin your blood and prevent it from clotting. The other is used to suck up your blood.
Thus, a mosquito bite is simply when a mosquito punctures your skin with its proboscis to draw blood. Now that we’ve established that mosquitoes do not actually bite OR sting, what do we call the red, itchy bumps they leave behind? A mosquito bite is an allergic reaction to the saliva of the mosquito. When a mosquito pierces your skin with its proboscis, it also injects a small amount of saliva into the wound. This saliva contains proteins that some people are allergic to. For these people, their bodies will have an immune response to the saliva which manifests as redness, itching, and swelling.
For most people, mosquito bites are just a nuisance. They may cause mild discomfort and itchiness, but they will eventually go away on their own. However, for some people, mosquito bites can be much more serious. Some people may have a severe allergic reaction to mosquito bites which can lead to difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat or tongue, and dizziness. If you experience any of these symptoms after a mosquito bite, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, as you may be having anaphylactic shock.
How Do Mosquitoes Spread Diseases?
Mosquitoes are well-known for being carriers of diseases like malaria, Zika virus, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and chikungunya. But how do they spread these diseases? Well, when a mosquito bites an infected person, it ingests the virus or parasites that cause the disease. Then, when that mosquito bites another person, it injects those viruses or parasites into their bloodstream. This is how diseases are spread through mosquito bites.
It is important to note that not all mosquitoes carry diseases. In fact, most do not. However, it is still important to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, especially if you are traveling to an area where there is a risk of contracting a mosquito-borne illness.
The mosquito’s saliva can carry viruses that it received from hosts that it had attacked previously. It is these viruses that pass on the diseases associated with mosquitoes. Different species of mosquito can carry different types of viruses. That is why the Zika virus is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus. The same mosquito can also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
So no, mosquitoes do not bite in the regular sense of the word, but neither do they sting. So, ‘bite’ is used for convenience. It is only the female that bites because it is only the female mosquito that needs your protein for its eggs! And mosquitoes suck!
Have a Mosquito Problem? Call a Professional
If you have a mosquito problem, it is best to call a professional pest control company for help. Pest control companies like Mr. Mister have the experience and knowledge to safely and effectively get rid of mosquitoes from your property. We will also be able to provide you with tips on how to prevent mosquitoes from returning in the future.
Don’t let mosquito bites ruin your summer fun! If you have a mosquito problem, call Mr. Mister, your local, friendly, professional pest control company for help. Stay safe and bite-free this season!