Summer is already going strong and so is our battle with mosquitoes. Check it out here if you have a question that might help you get rid of your buzzing problem, such as being curious about which mosquitoes bite. While both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar, only the ladies can bite a human and use our blood for egg-laying.
Knowing Your Enemy
Mosquitoes are some of the most stubborn creatures on Earth which, ironically, can also live pretty much everywhere due to the fact that they are adaptable creatures. Who among us has not had the experience of waking up to an annoying buzz near our ears or feeling that irresistible itch on one part of our body?
As mosquitoes will most certainly be uninvited guests during the long summer months, it’s always good to know a little something about them so you can better take care of yourself and your family. Everybody is afraid of the little insect’s bite, even though we’re here to tell you that not all of them seem to be going after our blood first thing in the morning.
What Exactly Is A Mosquito?
As we said, this has got to be one of the most perseverant and implacable insects on the planet. Biologically-speaking, a mosquito is classified as a two-winged fly which divides itself into more than 3,500 known species worldwide, all of them contained in three subfamilies.
Since we’re talking about biting anyway, we want to shed light on a mosquito mistery. These insects do not actually feed on blood like everybody seems to think. Instead, both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar, but the females need blood in their system in order for them to develop and lay their eggs.
Now, since they feed about three times a day and lay about 300 eggs in one go, there’s your answer to the large mosquito population around here.
So Which Ones Bite?
As we said, the males do not need blood so, logically-speaking, we’re here to tell you that all the mosquitoes that have ever bitten you are females. Exactly, what we’re saying is that only half of the existing population is actively buzzing around you trying to get their teeth sunk in. Now imagine if that was true for both sexes.
Speaking of biting, other revealing news on ‘’all-things mosquito’’ is that these creatures do not actually have a mouth to bite with. Instead, their feeding process goes through something called ‘’proboscis’’ which is smart English for ‘’an insect’s mouth part’’.
To the naked eye, a proboscis will not look very impressive, strongly resembling a single tube-like snout. If you can get a hold of a microscope, however, you’ll be able to watch a lot more closely and see that it is actually made of six different parts, all of them optimized for the feeding process.
The first two are called ‘’the mandible’’ and ‘’the maxillae’’ and are basically used as sharp knives that help the mosquito pierce through a victim’s skin and flesh in its never-ending search for the capillary bed. Once it finds it, it’ll use the two bigger tubes to deliver the saliva and suck the blood out of the body.
The next time you get that red, itchy bump on your skin and you realize you’ve been bitten, remember that it’s due to this saliva that it appears on your skin. The blood does not clot due to it and, instead, the body triggers this chemical reaction.
The feeding process is also the time when mosquitoes can be most dangerous because they are able to transmit a wide range of viruses that can act as incipients for some of the most deadly diseases in the world. While not all of them are carriers, their impact has been enough to make most people be afraid of things like the Zika virus.
Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others?
This has actually become a well-known scientific fact over the years. Mosquitoes really do prefer some people compared to others, an estimated 20 percent of the whole population, to be more specific. While scientists don’t yet have a cure for it other than preventing the bites altogether, they have formed some ideas regarding why some of us are ‘’mosquito-licious’’.
Our blood type seems to be the strongest factor, not at all surprising if you consider that the females need to harvest the proteins from our blood. Therefore, research shows that they find certain blood types way more appetizing than others.
Apparently, in a controlled setting, mosquitoes landed on subjects with Type O blood almost twice as often as those with Type A. Furthermore, people with Type B were somewhere in the middle of the pack, not too repulsive but not too delicious either.
Additionally, some 85 percent of people appear to secrete a chemical signal through their skin which indicates their blood type, while the other 15 percent do not. As you would expect, mosquitoes are a lot more attracted to the secretors group, regardless of which type they are.
Yes, you’ve read that well! Your simple breathing process can be one of the factors that draw the pesky insects to you. Smelling the carbon dioxide in the air is one of the ways the mosquitoes locate their target, and they can do it from as far as 164 feet away.
As a result, people who simply exhale more over time – mostly larger people – are more prone to being bitten than the others. This is also the answer as to why children get bitten less often than adults, on the whole.
In simple terms, think of each person as a moderate-to-low shining beacon for mosquitoes. When we exercise, on the other hand, the substances we expel via our sweat increase the heat in our body thus increasing the beacon from moderate to a fully-fledged supernova.
Meanwhile, genetic factors also influence the amount of those expelled substances so this is another reason why some people are always easily found by mosquitoes while their friends never seem to be bothered by them.
Believe it or not, a single 12-ounce bottle of beer is said to make you more attractive to insects. Even though, at first, scientists believed this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat or the body temperature, both of these were proved to be false and the mosquitoes’ preference towards drinkers remains somewhat of a mystery.
This is actually quite the logical argument if you think about it based on everything we discussed above. Since pregnant women exhale more air and have an overall higher body temperature than other people, it’s only normal they’ll shine bright for mosquitoes.
According to a study from the University of Florida, because these insects use vision along with their scent to locate humans, wearing colors that stand out will make you easier to find. Therefore, if you’re trying to hide from mosquitoes, you may want to avoid black, dark blue or red.
A Special Repellent
Being bitten by a mosquito is never something to enjoy, even though by now we know only half of the actual insect population is interested in our blood and there are certain genetic traits which we cannot change and that make us more prone to being bitten.
Some scientists have started to try and create a next-generation repellent by using a chemical from the bodies of people who rarely seem to attract insects. Incorporating this chemical into an eventual bug spray could mean that a Type O pregnant woman who is exercising in a black t-shirt could also ward off mosquitoes for good.