In part one of this series, we looked at 8 little-known facts about mosquitoes. In part two we continue with some surprising information about these little pests. Bet you didn’t know them all!
Where does the name mosquito originate?
If you’re going to discuss mosquitoes, one of the first things you should know is why they’re called mosquitoes in the first place. The name comes from the Portuguese word “Mosca.” “Mosca” simply means “fly,” and with the addition of the diminutive suffix “-ito,” mosquito means “little fly.” If you ask a scientist, mosquitoes are technically part of the fly family, so the name makes sense!
How much blood do mosquitoes take?
When a mosquito bites, it takes a small “blood meal.” The blood isn’t actually food since the mosquito gets no nutrition from the blood. Instead, the proteins in the blood are necessary for the female to develop her eggs. When the female mosquito bites, she can take in as much as three times her body weight in blood. That may seem like a lot, but mosquitoes are very light creatures. Mosquitoes take such a small blood meal that it would take well over a million bites to drain all of your blood. That would be one heck of an itch!
There are a few things to know about a mosquito’s blood meal. First, only the females bite and take blood. That’s because the blood is actually not food for the mosquito. Mosquitoes, like many other flying bugs, mostly eat nectar and honeydew from plants to get the sugar they need to function. Nectar basically consists of different sugars and water. The three main sugars that can be found in nectar are glucose, sucrose, and fructose. Nectar’s nutrients are amino acids, inorganic ions, and a small number of proteins. The nectar does not provide the needed proteins for eggs. Hence, the blood a mosquito takes is not for herself but for her eggs. To produce eggs, a female mosquito needs a lot of protein. So to get the protein she needs, a female mosquito will bite mammals, including humans, and take their blood.
A female mosquito will lay eggs up to three times in her life. When she does, she deposits a cluster of as many as 300 eggs into stagnant water or in a place that regularly floods. Though on average female mosquitoes lay 100 eggs per time, and females can lay eggs approximately three times. The larvae live in water for the first ten days of their lives, and they eat organic matter in the water and come to the surface to breathe oxygen. In the end, mosquitoes only live approximately two to three weeks, depending on the environment and climate.
What do mosquitoes do in the winter?
You’ve probably noticed that mosquito “season” lasts from spring to fall. As the weather warms, the mosquitoes start to swarm. If you hang out near standing water in the summer, you may be inundated with pesky biters. But if you stand in the same spot in December, you probably won’t see a single mosquito. So where do they go?
Mosquitoes, like all other insects, are cold-blooded. This means that their body temperature is entirely dependent on the temperature of the air around them. Ideally, mosquitoes like a temperature of 80 degrees or higher. As the temperature cools, mosquitoes slow down. And when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, they make like polar bears and hibernate.
Depending on the species, an adult female mosquito may just shut down for the duration of the colder months. (Males of most species do not hibernate.) The hibernating females take shelter in holes in the ground or trees and wait out the winter. In some species, adult females aren’t the ones who hibernate. Instead, they lay eggs as winter is coming on and then die off. Their eggs go into a state of suspended animation while it’s cold outside and may even freeze. Once the weather warms up, the eggs come back to life and start to hatch, bringing about that first springtime swarm. Some mosquitoes even hibernate over the winter as embryos that were laid the year before. In this case, the embryos freeze over during the winter, and when spring comes, and the water melts, the eggs hatch.
Many mosquitoes hibernate, but those that are most common in the United States are Genera Anopheles, Culex, and Culiseta mosquitoes that hibernate in the winter.
After coming out of hibernation, the females feed or suck our blood in order to grow their strength to the next, lay eggs. Few mosquitoes actually are larvae over the winter, but those that are tend to be buried under mud in freshwater swamps. When temperatures warm up in the spring, the larvae begin feeding to grow strength to become adults and continue the reproduction process.
And once temperatures warm consistently to approximately 70 degrees for a few consecutive days, the mosquitoes will come out to play and start breeding. Hence, it is important to put measures in place to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property from mosquitoes. This is why contacting your local mosquito services, like Mr. Mister Mosquito Control, is important to protect your home in the most effective way possible.
Teeth of mosquitoes
Mosquitoes bite, but they don’t have teeth. Say what?
How can a mosquito bite if it has no teeth?
Well, a mosquito bite is not exactly a bite like a mammal, or a human might take. Instead, it’s a bit of a venipuncture. A female mosquito finds her target mostly by smell. She looks for the smell of CO2 in the breath of an exhaling mammal. Other odors may also attract a mosquito, such as the smell of lactic acid or the scent created by the collection of bacteria on your skin.
Once a mosquito has found her target, she lands on her target and has to find a suitable blood vessel to puncture. Mosquitoes don’t bite very deeply, so they mostly look for capillaries near the surface of the skin. They find the best spot to bite by heat. Your blood is warm, so a mosquito just needs to find a nice warm spot to bite.
When the mosquito “bites,” it doesn’t use teeth. Instead, it uses a long tubular mouthpiece called a proboscis. The proboscis has a serrated edge that the mosquito uses to pierce the skin. Instead of teeth, they have a 6-pronged microneedle system, which allows them to pierce the skin and find blood vessels. Two of their outermost needles have 47 tiny “teeth,” which they use to saw through skin.
Through the proboscis, the mosquito injects a bit of its saliva as a coagulant. The saliva is what makes you itch. Through another part of the proboscis, she sucks up some blood before flying off and moving to her next victim.
Mosquitoes don’t just bite people
With at least 3,500 described species of mosquito, there is a lot of variation in feeding patterns. Only a fraction of the total number of species bite humans. Other species take blood meals from a wide variety of creatures. Different species feed on almost every type of vertebrate. Many attack mammals, but others attack birds, reptiles, and even some fish.
A few species of mosquitoes that bite humans include Aedes aegypti, found in the East Coast, Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and the Southern United States, and Anopheles gambiae, found in the Eastern and Western United States. Anopheles mosquitoes and Aedes mosquitoes prefer humans to feed on, while Culex mosquitoes, found throughout the United States, do not prefer humans but will feed on humans if need be. Culex mosquitoes prefer avians or birds. No matter the species of mosquito, they are drawn to floral scents that can be smelled from perfume, deodorants, soaps, lotions, and so on. But do not be concerned about whether to wear or not to wear deodorant or perfume. Either way, they can be drawn to your pheromones, depending on the scent. If you are sweating on a hot, muggy day or forget to put deodorant on, the mosquitoes can still be drawn to your natural scent. The chemicals from your skin still signal to the mosquitoes that you are around. Even mosquito wristbands may not always prevent the attraction of mosquitoes to your perfume or your natural scent.
Where and when?
Mosquitoes nest in stagnant water, as well as in damp leaves, grass, and bushes, where they also lay their eggs. Though, mosquitoes do not build actual nests. Mosquitoes also tend to come out more in the early morning before temperatures get too hot from the sun. Too much sun and daylight can dehydrate and kill mosquitoes. This is why they are out more commonly in the evening as well. This is also when humans are often asleep, so mosquitoes can bite without anyone being aware.
And when female mosquitoes bite, they bite. The same mosquito can bite you repeatedly until she is satisfied and full.
What to do and what not to do when you get bit
Do not scratch your mosquito bites. And why? Because when mosquitoes bite you, their tiny needle-shaped mouths leave holes. Therefore, if you scratch the mosquito bite, the hole will widen. This can lead to not only more bleeding but a longer healing time and even possible infection. Why infection? Because our hands and nails can get quite dirty with bacteria and dirt on them. Yes, mosquitoes are dirty as well, but your hands and nails are probably dirtier.
Ouch! You got bit by a mosquito. So we know, do not scratch mosquito bites. We all know how difficult it can be, but we must resist. So now what?
- Clean the mosquito bite with soap and water, and make sure to keep it clean! If the bite is bleeding, you can put a bandaid to protect the wound as well.
- Setting ice packs on the mosquito bite will reduce swelling.
- Using different anti-itch creams will help lessen the temptation to scratch!!
When to seek medical attention
When getting bit by a mosquito, it is highly unlikely you will need medical attention. Though, some symptoms to look out for are continuous fever and swelling. In this case, seeking medical attention may be worth it.
Which country doesn’t have mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are incredibly cosmopolitan. At least some species of mosquitoes are present in almost every region of the earth, with the exception of Antarctica and a few polar and subpolar islands. Iceland is one of those islands, with basically no mosquitoes. The lack of mosquitoes has to do with Iceland’s unpredictable weather. Mosquitoes thrive in some pretty cold climates, including the arctic tundra. The mosquitoes lay eggs or hibernate as winter is coming on and spend winter hibernating or in a state of suspended animation called diapause. When the weather warms up, they burst into action, and the mosquito season begins. But that trick doesn’t work in Iceland.
In Iceland, the winter is often punctuated with brief thaws or warmer weather. The warmer weather would cause deposited mosquito eggs to hatch. But since the warm weather doesn’t last, the mosquitoes would be frozen over again before they get a chance to mature and reproduce. That makes Iceland inhospitable to mosquitoes, resulting in an entire island nation that is nearly completely free of mosquitoes.
If Iceland isn’t in your travel plans, just call Mr. Mister!
While an entire island free of mosquitoes sounds like a dream come true, many people would just as soon stay here in Atlanta. If you are determined to stay, and there are lots of reasons to stay, you can still live in a mosquito-free zone.
With Mr. Mister’s ClearZone Misting Service, your home or business can be mosquito free all season long. We’ll come out and spray about once every three weeks from spring to fall, and we guarantee you will be mosquito free for the duration.
Another option is to install an automated misting system. It works like an installed sprinkler system, hiding discretely among your bushes. At ideal times, usually dawn and dusk, the system releases a fine mist of mosquito insecticide, preventing mosquitoes from calling your property home.
If you are ready to live mosquito-free, contact Mr. Mister today for your no-obligation quote!