Mosquitoes are annoying pests that can carry many dangerous diseases. They are capable of driving us crazy with their bites and buzzing around our ears.
At the same time having survived for millions of years they merit our interest. Here are 17 interesting facts about mosquitoes you might not know.
1. Mosquitoes need water to breed
It must be still water and a small amount can be enough. Some places they might find stagnant water near your home are in – blocked gutters, birdbaths, buckets, old tires, neglected pools, paddling pools, rain barrels, ponds, flowerpots, and any other container that can contain water. Make sure you have no standing water around your house, or at least empty any standing water once a week. 10 – 14 days is enough time for most mosquitoes to multiply, depending on the species.
2. They are the deadliest animal on earth
Mosquitoes are responsible for more deaths than any other animal. Spreading diseases such as malaria, dengue, West Nile fever, yellow fever, Zika, chikungunya, and lymphatic filariasis. In total, mosquitoes are responsible for about 725,000 deaths per year.
3. Only the female mosquitoes bite
The male and female mosquitoes feed mainly on nectar to obtain energy. But the female mosquito needs the nutrients from a human or animal blood meal to produce eggs.
4. They have been on earth for millions of years
It is known that mosquitoes have been on earth for about 400 million years. Their ability to adapt, has made them very successful with more than 3000 species worldwide and 176 species in the US.
5. The buzzing sound is made by the beating of their wings
Mosquito wings bat at up to 800 times per second. The sound this creates is not just for flying and annoying us, but also for finding a suitable mate. The male emits a higher frequency sound to attract the lower frequency of the female.
6. Mosquitoes have a short lifespan
Again this depends on species, but most female mosquitoes live 2 or 3 weeks. However, females that find a shelter for winter can live for up to 6 months. The males generally have a shorter life span of about 6 to 9 days.
7. They are weak fliers
Mosquitoes are very light and don’t like the wind. A fan on your deck or in the house can be used as a low tech deterrent to keep them away.
8. Mosquitoes don’t travel far
Common mosquitoes found in our gardens may not fly more than 100 or 200 yards. Other species of mosquitoes have a flight range of several miles. While the saltmarsh breeders often fly up to 40 miles when looking for a blood meal.
9. Mosquitoes are attracted by carbon dioxide
A mosquito can detect exhaled carbon dioxide from more than 30 feet. When it gets nearer, it will sense your human odor and then your body heat. When it lands on you, it will taste your skin and pick a good place to bite you.
10. Mosquitoes weigh only several milligrams
Common small species found around our houses often weigh about 2.5 milligrams, with larger species weighing 10 milligrams.
11. An average mosquito bite takes 5 millionths of a liter of blood.
The average human body has about 5 liters of blood, so it would take more than 1 million bites to drain your body.
12. It’s the saliva that makes you itch
When mosquitoes bite they take a small quantity of blood, and they also inject some of their saliva. The saliva contains an anticoagulant and proteins. It’s the injected foreign substances that provoke the body’s immune system, which may cause swelling and itchiness.
13. Bigger people can be more attractive to mosquitoes
Pregnant and larger people produce more carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Allowing mosquitoes to detect them more easily, they are also a bigger target.
14. Mosquitoes prefer a certain blood type
People with type O blood are twice as likely to be bitten by a mosquito than people with type A blood.
15. Mosquitoes are attracted by dark colors
If you’re wearing blue or black clothes, you might attract more mosquitoes than by wearing light-colored (white or light grey) clothes.
16. Movement is a sign that you are an attractive target
With their poor vision, mosquitoes need a way to distinguish animals and people from other stationary objects, like trees and bushes. If you’re moving around a lot, you will also produce more CO2 and heat. This can make you an ideal target for these little biting insects.
17. Mosquitoes find their prey with heat
After a mosquito has followed our scent and seen us, they use thermal sensors to detect body heat and precisely locate us. The pests use visual, sense of smell, and thermal cues to home in on their victims.
18. Some species are more active during the day
Mosquito activity depends on the species. Many mosquitoes are active at dawn, then at dusk, and through the night. This is to avoid the sun and high temperatures. While others, such as the Aedes genus, are more active in the day.
19. Mosquitoes can mate while flying
Mating for mosquitoes is rapid, often lasting only 15 seconds. It usually takes place in the air, although occasionally it can occur on a surface.
I hope you found these mosquito facts interesting. There are also many myths about mosquitoes you might find fascinating.
Remember, mosquitoes can be dangerous. Make sure you remove any standing water around your property. If you live in a mosquito-infested area, keep your body covered, use a repellent, or install a mosquito trap to reduce their numbers.