Mosquitoes have been around longer than 210 million years! Even philosophers such as Aristotle did not understand the reason for mosquitoes’ existence. Despite mosquitoes’ survival over the decades, the average human knows little about this annoying little insect.
It may seem like mosquitoes like some people’s blood more than others. It is not actually a matter of blood type, but rather how mosquitoes detect their prey. Mosquitoes have chemical, visual, and heat sensors that help them find their prey.
Chemical sensors aid mosquitoes by tracking the carbon dioxide we exhale as well as some of the chemicals released in our sweat. Carbon dioxide can be sensed up to 100 feet away, and acts as a path for the mosquitoes to follow straight to us. Mosquitoes also like the chemical octenal released in our sweat as well as cholesterol, folic acid, some types of bacteria, and scented skin lotions and perfume.
Visual sensors are used by targeting bright clothes that stand out against the background. When these vivid colors are moving, it makes an even easier target for these bloodsuckers. Don’t let this fool you into wearing black to combat mosquitoes though, because darker clothes retain more heat and mosquitoes are also drawn to heat.
Heat sensors around the mosquitoes mouthparts are used to detect body heat, or more accurately, the blood inside it.
Male and female mosquitoes mostly feed on fruit and plant nectar. Only female mosquitoes feed on blood because they need the protein to help in the development of their eggs. Once she has her fill of blood, she rests for a couple of days before laying her eggs. Females can lay up to 300 eggs as a time and can do this up to three times before they die! Mosquitoes on average live less than two months, and males have an even shorter lifespan of about 10 days or less.
The red bump left from a mosquito bite is actually caused by the mosquito's saliva. When a female mosquito bites, she enters a long, pointed mouthpart into the skin called a proboscis that has two tubes. Once the proboscis pierces the skin and locates a capillary, blood is drawn through one tube while the other tube is used to inject a mild painkiller and an anticoagulant enzyme that protects against blood clotting.
Hopefully these tips help you stay bite-free! Thank you for reading!
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