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Interesting Mosquito Facts

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.

How do mosquitoes find us?

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.

Why do mosquitoes bite?

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.

Why do mosquito bites hurt?

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.

How do we keep these biting monsters away from us?

  • Idea #1: Blow mosquitoes away with a fan. Mosquitoes have a hard time flying in almost any wind, anything above one mile per hour, so a fan aimed toward where you are sitting in your outdoor space can help to repel mosquitos to some degree.
  • Idea #2: Set out citronella candles. These are a popular approach in warding off mosquitoes, but the problem is that they have to be in the direct path between you and the mosquito and most of the candles only emit a signature big enough to cover a 15 inch by 15 inch area. If you want to use candles, check to make sure it has the ingredient geraniol in it (makes the candle longer-lasting and more effective than normal citronella candles).
  • Idea #3: Buy a mosquito repeller lantern like this Thermacell brand one. "Bug zappers" dont work well on mosquitoes, but other more sophisticated options like this one do exist. This way you can keep bugs away while also enjoying some romantic mood lighting.
  • Idea #4: Rub some DEET on your skin. The concentration of DEET, just like the concentration of SPF in sunscreens, does not determine how well it will work but rather how long it will last. A product with 7-10% DEET will last about 90 minutes and you can simply reapply when needed.

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Hopefully these tips help you stay bite-free! Thank you for reading!

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