When it comes to mosquito control knowledge, the line between folk wisdom and folklore is often blurry at best.
Much can be gleaned from country sayings and old wives’ tales, but when it comes to mosquitoes, where does the truth end and the tall-tale begin? Test your wits by deeming the following mosquito “facts” true or false:
Mosquitoes are most active during a full moon
– True – There have been studies demonstrating a correlation between a full moon and increased mosquito activity. Most species of mosquitoes are active in the time immediately following sunset. It is possible that a full moon may extend this prime time for mosquito activity until later into the night, which is why this bit of folk wisdom is deemed true.
Mosquitoes can’t detect you if you are completely still
– False – Mosquitoes have compound eyes that are superior at detecting movement. However, they can also see you when you are at rest. They are skilled at detecting certain bodily smells and heat, and they can detect carbon dioxide, which is released during breathing. One’s rate of breathing increases with activity, thus releasing more carbon dioxide and attracting more mosquitoes. This is likely the source of the myth that mosquitoes can only see movement. The truth is that mosquitoes see you whether you are still or not. So, we have to rule this popular bit of mosquito knowledge as false.
All mosquitoes bite
– False – At the most, only half of mosquitoes bite. One Gravid (pregnant) mosquito can lay hundreds of eggs. To gain the energy and essential proteins required to lay these eggs, the female mosquito of most species requires a blood meal.
Because they don’t need to lay eggs, male mosquitoes do not bite. Of the close to 200 mosquito species present in North America, only a fraction choose humans as the primary source for their blood meal. Many prefer birds or even amphibians.
Bats provide effective control of mosquitoes
– False – While bats do eat a variety of insects, mosquitoes do not make up a large portion of their diet. Bats are much more likely to snack on bigger insects, such as the dragonfly, and dragonfly larvae are capable of consuming copious amounts of immature mosquitoes.
Therefore, it could be argued that an increased bat population might even result in an amplified mosquito population, making this myth false.
Mosquitoes are a public nuisance, not a health concern
– Absolutely False – Globally, over a million people die every year as a result of contracting mosquito-borne diseases, making the mosquito the deadliest animal on earth.
Despite being spared from malaria, the worst of these diseases, the number of Americans who get sick and die from mosquito-transmitted diseases may surprise you.
Hundreds of people in the United States fall ill as a result of contracting West Nile Virus every year. Though less deadly, the Zika virus has its own set of very serious public health concerns.
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