Five Mosquito Facts You Probably Didn’t Know
It’s hard to imagine the common mosquito ever being anything more than an annoying, obnoxious pest. However, these small creatures are actually an extremely important part of nature and their place in the world is vital to everything from plants to animals. In fact, it might surprise you to learn just what these tiny, blood-sucking creatures are capable of and what they do for the world around them.
Here are five amazing and mind-boggling facts about mosquitos you probably never knew (as well as a few ways to deal with them properly so you don’t have to worry about them biting you this summer).
Mosquitos Are the World’s Deadliest Animal
Nature isn’t short of deadly, fearsome animals that have tremendous, awe-inspiring power and abilities to hunt. Lions, tigers, bears, sharks, gators, and so many others probably come to the forefront when you think of some of the deadliest animals in nature. However, you probably don’t think of the lowly mosquito—a bug that can be easily smashed with the force of a human hand. However, mosquitos hold the record for causing the most human deaths, and they continue to widen the gap on that record with every passing day. The reason for this is simple: mosquitos are tremendous disease carriers. In fact, the diseases that mosquitos carry cause more than one million deaths per year around the world, particularly in poor, tropical areas throughout Africa and Central and South America. Here are some common diseases spread by mosquitoes:
West Nile Virus
The most well-known mosquito-borne disease, West Nile Virus is a serious condition that can cause fever, headache, stiffness, convulsions, vision loss, paralysis, and even death. The good news is that only one in five people who contract West Nile Virus will experience any symptoms, and only one in 150 will suffer any serious health problems.
The second-most common mosquito-borne disease, Zika virus can cause fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. Like West Nile virus, there is no vaccine for Zika, though symptoms are also rare.
Chikungunya virus also causes fever, joint pain, and rashes. Though uncommon in the U.S., it is possible to contract it in parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Dengue virus can lead to nausea, vomiting, rash, and various other aches. It is a serious threat in many parts of the world, and one in four people infected with Dengue will become very sick. Fortunately for residents of the United States, however, it is not common in this part of the world
Eastern Equine Encephalitis:
Eastern Equine encephalitis, or EEE, is a rare form of disease that can lead to serious brain infections. Fortunately, only a few cases of EEE are reported in the U.S. each year.
Japanese Encephalitis Virus:
Another variant of brain disease encephalitis, JE virus is the leading cause of this condition in Asia and the Western Pacific. The good news is that it’s extremely rare in the United States, and there is a JE vaccine.
La Crosse Encephalitis:
La Crosse encephalitis is a version of the aforementioned disease concentrated to the upper Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and parts of the southeast. Some who become ill with this condition develop serious nervous system disease, although most cases experience zero symptoms.
St. Louis Encephalitis:
Like La Crosse encephalitis, most who become infected with St. Louis encephalitis do not experience symptoms. On average, 128 cases are reported in the U.S. every year, with some cases occasionally reported in Mexico and Canada.
A mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite, malaria causes fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. Although 229 million cases of malaria are still reported each year, most occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While there is no licensed vaccine for malaria on the market, there is hope; recent studies have shown several vaccines to be effective in initial trials.
Yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. Illness symptoms can include everything from fever with aches and pains to severe liver disease with bleeding and yellowing skin. On a positive note, a safe and effective yellow fever vaccine has been available for over 80 years.
If You Have Been Bitten, It Was by a Female Mosquito
Almost everyone has been bitten by a mosquito before—it’s an extremely common occurrence throughout summer. However, we can guarantee one thing: you have never been bitten by a male mosquito. This is because only female mosquitos actually bite mammals and drink their blood. Male mosquitos feed on flower nectar and other plant-based foods. Female mosquitos break down the blood they consume into proteins that they can then use to lay eggs after mating.
A Mosquito’s Entire Life is Only Two Months
People love to say life is short, but they probably never imagined just how short it is for the lowly mosquito. In fact, mosquitos hatch, mature, live their entire life, and die in a span of roughly two months. This is one of the shortest lifespans of any creature on the planet and explains why it seems like mosquitos are always so furiously pursuing food sources. However, over that time, they can be quite productive. A single female mosquito will typically lay anywhere from 50 to 100 eggs per brood, but the number can go as high as 500 eggs at a time. They do this generally every third day, and that can equate to more than 10,000 eggs in a single female mosquito’s lifetime. These eggs are remarkably hardy, too—they require standing water to hatch, but a female may lay her eggs in damp soil in anticipation of floodwaters rising and providing for the eggs in the future. The eggs can survive for eight months to a year (even through winter) while waiting for this water.
Mosquitos Are an Important Food Source
Mosquitos are an important food source for a huge variety of other wildlife. Other insects depend on mosquitos as a food source, including mantises. Almost every species of spider consumes mosquitos as a valuable food source. And even birds, reptiles, and even some small mammals will eat mosquitos that they can get their mouth on. While females may lay 10,000 eggs over their lifetime, the odds of any of those mosquitos hatching and living their entire life are much, much slimmer. Only a small handful will actually complete their lifecycle without either being killed or being eaten.
Mosquitos Are Attracted to CO2
Does it seem like mosquitos seem to love certain people far more than others? Does one member of your family seem to get bit endlessly while another might avoid the bites almost entirely? There’s a reason for this, and no, it isn’t that one person tastes better. The answer is carbon dioxide. Mosquitos are scavengers and play an important role in decomposition. As a dead animal decomposes, it emits carbon dioxide, and that attracts mosquitos to the area for the food source.
When we breathe, we exhale a combination of carbon dioxide and gaseous forms of other substances like lactic acid, octanol, uric acid, and more. Even your blood type plays a part. All of these factors combine to form a unique smell that clues mosquitos into the nearby presence of a human.
Think of it like someone who sweats a lot: the more they sweat, the easier it is for your nose to pick them up. The same is true for CO2: the more we breathe and the more we exhale, the easier it is for mosquitos to pick up our scent and come attacking. This does mean that those who are exercising heavily in a mosquito-laden area will appear more attractive, but likewise, there isn’t much you can do to change your CO2 output under normal conditions—that’s a trait almost exclusively determined by genetics.
Are you tired of mosquitos constantly bugging you both inside and outside your home? Contact Frame's Pest Control today to schedule a mosquito treatment.