Everyone in the whole world has at least once in their life came across mosquitos. They are small insects that bite and feed on the blood of humans or other animals. They have a slender segmented body with a pair of wings, a pair of halteres, six hair-like legs and elongated mouthparts.
These creatures have been around for millions of years and there are more than 3000 different species of mosquitoes as of today. They are the deadliest animals to humans with more than a million deaths every year, according to CNET. Although these insects are universally hated, there are some pretty interesting facts about them that you probably didn’t know. So here are 12 interesting facts about Mosquitoes that might leave you surprised.
1. Only Females Mosquitoes Bite
Most of the people think that all the mosquitos’ bite but of all the species of mosquitoes, only a couple hundred devour on human blood. Also, female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite humans. Male mosquitoes can work with plant nectars but female mosquitoes need essentials nutrients to produce and develop eggs.
2. The Deadliest Creature
Malaria, a disease spread by Mosquitoes infect more than 250 million people around the world and more than a million deaths every year. A large portion of infected people come from Africa where there’s no availability of anti-malarial drugs. They are also the vectors of diseases like Zika, Yellow Fever and Dengue which have taken the lives of many people.
3. No Teeth
Although infamously known for its bite, it’s surprising that mosquitoes have no teeth. Mosquito’s mouth, also known as Proboscis is responsible for piercing and sucking which contains sharp needle-like structures which makes piercing the skin easier. Proboscis is also responsible for ejecting saliva into the host’s body.
4. The Itchy Sensation
When a mosquito bites, it first ejects its saliva which is an anticoagulant that stops blood clots formation while sucking blood. If it doesn’t eject saliva, the blood gets clogged on the proboscis making it impossible to suck blood again. So when it ejects the saliva, the immune system induces an allergic response which is the reason it itches when a mosquito bites.
5. Their Tracking Mechanism
Since mosquitoes do not have advanced eyes as we do, they rely on something else to track and find their targets. They can spot human breaths. When we exhale air, Carbon Dioxide is released which they can detect with their receptors. They are also fond of octanol and lactic acids found in our sweat.
Along with that, they have heat sensors which they use to detect the warmth of the human body and land on the best place to suck blood. It is believed that beer drinkers attract mosquitoes more than normal people do.
6. Life Span
The life span of a mosquito depends upon its species ranging anywhere from few days up to a few months. Eggs develop into a full adult within two weeks after hatching. Male mosquitos have a shorter life span of about a week, just enough to mate with females.
Females generally have a longer life span, up to a month or two though might die sooner due to its predators like dragonflies or spiders or if you slap it down when they try to bite you.
7. Slow Fliers
Mosquitoes average flight speed is about one and a half miles per hour. It will take a mosquito 2.4 minutes to complete 100m while other insects like butterflies and locusts can do it in a fraction of the time. Although these insects are this slow, its surprising that many people still miss hitting them.
The irritating noise when they fly is caused by beating the wings 300-600 times per second. Although that is really fast, that has nothing to do with displacement a mosquito can make in a certain time.
8. HIV Transmission
Since a mosquito sucks blood from multiple people many people assume that is also transferred to HIV. That is false because a mosquito only injects its saliva and its proboscis doesn’t act like an unsterilized needle.
Also, if a mosquito did suck blood from an infected person, HIV doesn’t replicate in mosquito’s gut and gets broken down.
9. Water For Breeding
Mosquitoes can lay up to 300 at a time and require water for breeding. The water doesn’t need to have large volume, they can work with a few inches of water. Places that have chances of holding water like roof gutters, old tires or swamps can quickly be a breeding centre. Places, where it rains frequently, are the places with more mosquitoes. You have to make sure there is no standing water around you to keep mosquitoes controlled.
10. First days in Water
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and the larvae are known as wrigglers. These wrigglers feed on organic matter present in water and breathe oxygen from the surface. Wrigglers then develop into pupae and are partially encased into cocoons. A few days later, pupae develop into a mosquito and fly away. The whole process takes 10-14 days.
11. A Very Old Species
Mosquitoes are believed to have been around since the Jurassic era making them more than 200 million years old. Mosquitoes have been mentioned in Ancient Greek fables “The Elephant and the Mosquito” which proves as the earliest contact of mosquitoes and humans.
Some species of mosquitoes are seen hibernating during the winter. Mosquitoes are cold-blooded creatures which mean their body temperature depends on the temperature of the environment. This is the reason why mosquitoes are mostly visible during warmer weather. Places with cold climate throughout the year are less likely to have any mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are really annoying creatures and must be taken care of in order to be safe from the diseases they transmit. Using repellent sprays, bed nets and other precautions must be taken in serious consideration.
Also, no standing stagnant water like puddles and tyre tracks around your surrounding must be allowed to prevent breeding. Unused tanks and wells must be closed or destroyed. Minimizing mosquitos’ bites will also minimize malaria and other diseases and save lives of many people.