There are certain mosquito facts you already know very well: that they are annoying; that the high-pitched, whiny mosquito sound can drive you nuts; that they can make outdoor activities sheer torture.
But there are other facts about mosquitoes that you may not know.
Why should you care about these mosquito facts? Simply because knowing your enemy increases your chances of success in fighting the enemy.
And make no mistake – humans and mosquitoes most certainly are mortal enemies.
The most frightening of mosquito facts is that they indirectly kill millions of people every year by transmitting diseases through their bite. In fact, malaria alone is thought to kill 2 to 3 million people every year. And malaria is spread solely by the mosquito.
The Mosquito Life Cycle
Mosquitoes spend a good bit of their lives in water. Mosquito eggs are laid in water, larvae hatch from the eggs and continue to live in water through the pupal stage. In fact, only adult mosquitoes live out of water.
Mosquitoes don’t need a lot of water to raise the next generation. Female mosquitoes will lay their eggs in the most unlikely of places, as long as there’s a bit of water. Tree stumps, an old tire with a bit of water inside, a rusty can, rain gutters with little puddles, and even mud puddles during a rainy spell make fine mosquito incubators.
But although mosquitoes spend so much of their lives underwater, they are strictly air breathers. Mosquito larvae use a snorkel-like appendage to get a breath of air from beneath the surface of the water.
Why Mosquitoes Want to Suck YOUR Blood
It’s nothing personal; they just need your blood (or the blood of some other person or animal) to raise the next generation of mosquitoes. In truth, mosquitoes get most of their nourishment from the nectar of plants. In fact, male mosquitoes never dine on blood. But the female mosquito uses the blood she nabs from you as a protein source that’s crucial in the development of her eggs.
And though you may find it hard to believe at times (like that picnic where you’d swear there were ten thousand mosquitoes swarming over you!), you’re usually not the mosquito’s first choice on the bill-of-fare. Most mosquito species prefer a non-human source of blood. Horses, birds, and cattle are among their top menu choices.
But you’ll do in a pinch!
How Mosquitoes Find You
Have you ever found yourself amazed and dismayed at how rapidly mosquitoes can find you when you step outside? If it’s mosquito season, it can seem as if hundreds of mosquitoes can target in on us within seconds of leaving the safety of our homes.
Mosquitoes can find you so easily because you make it so easy for them. (If you’d just stop breathing and having the body temperature of a human, you’d be OK!)
That’s because with every move you make and every breath you take (sounds like an old song!), you’re inviting the mosquitoes to dinner.
When you breathe, you exhale carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes are very good at smelling carbon dioxide, and they’ll use your exhaled breath to guide them right to you. Mosquitoes are also able to detect heat, and that’s another way that they invite themselves to dinner.
Their vision isn’t very good, so they generally smell you before they see you. But when they get to within about 30 feet of you, they can also see you, and home in on your body movements.
Mosquito Life Span
But to be more precise, mosquitoes live a normal life span that’s as short as about 3 days, or as long as roughly 3 months. The mosquito life span varies quite a bit among the roughly 3000 mosquito species.
A few of the mosquito species that thrive in colder climates actually hibernate during the winter, and can live for over a year.