THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT MOSQUITOES



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By Cathy Ann Hill

It is hopeful that this article will bring you awareness and information from a different angle. How many of these facts do you know? How many old wives tales actually are or are not true?

The Mosquito

1) Only female mosquitoes bite. Male and female feed mostly on fruit a nectar, but the female needs protein in her blood to encourage egg production. Once the female has had enough blood, she will take a break for two days, then lay her eggs.

2) Mosquitoes don’t have teeth. The female mosquito bites with a long, pointed mouth part called a proboscis. The jagged-edge proboscis pierces a blood vessel with one of two tubes.

3) A mosquito drinks up to three times its weight in blood. It would take close to 1.2 million bites to suck up all the blood in your body.

4) Female mosquitoes lay up to 300 eggs at three different life intervals. The eggs are mostly in clusters on the surface of still water. Eggs can hatch in an inch of still water.

5) Mosquitoes spend the first ten days in water. The larvae stage, called wigglers, feed on organic matter in still waters and breath oxygen from the surface. The wigglers develop into the pupae, or partially-encased cocoon stage, which do not feed during this stage of development. In the next several days, the pupae stage changes into the adult.

6) Mosquitoes have evolved. They are cold blooded and prefer temperatures between 80F and 50F. To protect themselves outdoors, some mosquitoes will find holes, water bottles, Rotoplasts, garbage cans, even plant pots to hide under while waiting for warmer weather. Evening during cooler nights, mosquitoes will find their way indoors and hide behind curtains, refrigerators, cupboards, even small holes in the wall. As you are sleeping, mosquitoes search you out to bite. Some females, as they are dying, will lay their eggs in freezing water. The eggs stay dormant until temperatures rise enough for the eggs to hatch.

7) The average life cycle of a mosquito is two months. Males live only for ten days or less. Females, under the right environmental conditions, will live up to eight weeks and lay eggs every three days. Females that have evolved to hibernate in colder conditions in warmer climates can live up to six months.

A Mosquito’s Behavior

8) Male mosquitoes find females by the sound of their wings. Females beat their wings up to 500 times per second, and the higher the frequency, the more noticed by a male.

9) Mosquitoes do not fly very fast. Top speed is about 1.5 miles per hour. Most can only fly one to three miles, and usually stay close to where they were hatched. Mosquitoes born in salt marshes can travel up to 40 miles away. Mosquitoes normally do not fly above 25 feet.

10) Mosquitoes can smell your breath. Receptors are on the antennae and detect CO2 emissions from your breath, leaving a trail for the insect to follow.

11) Sweat from your body determines choice of blood. Our bodies release over 350 chemicals, some of the smells the mosquito really like. Favorites are cholesterol, folic acid, types of bacteria, skin lotions, perfumes, and octenol (a chemical released in your sweat).

12) Mosquitoes can detect body heat. They have heat sensors around their mouth parts that detect the warmth of your blood; then feast on your veins and arteries.

13) Biting midges, called no-see-ums, are tiny mosquito-looking insects. No-see-ums are found in coastal and salt marsh areas. They are ferocious in appetite and inflict a trail of itchy welts on exposed body parts which, when scratched, can introduce infections and pus. No-see-ums bite in early morning and evenings. They cause allergies and dermatitis. No-see-ums are not sand flies.

Pesky Problems With Mosquitoes

14) The mosquito has two proboscis tubes in the mouth. One tube draws blood; the other pumps in saliva that contains a mild painkiller and anti-coagulant. Most bites inflicted cause allergy symptoms, such as swelling and itchiness.

15) West Nile, Dengue, Chikingunya, and Zika viruses are in saliva due to parasites that infect the mosquito.

16) Heart worm in dogs is carried and passed on by parasite-infected mosquitoes.

17) Dengue and Chikingunya viruses are extremely painful to humans. Zika fever can have mild to debilitating symptoms.

18) Children, people with health issues, and those with lowered immune systems are more susceptible to the wrath of mosquito-borne viruses and illnesses.

19) Mosquitoes are considered the deadliest animal in the world.

How To Keep Mosquitoes Away From You

20) Synthetic DEET, and two other natural repellents – picaradin oils and lemon/eucalyptus – are proven effective and are recommended by the CDC (Center for Disease Control).

21) A new bacteria on the market called Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) is a natural mosquito-larvae destroyer.

22) Wear light colored clothing. Remember that dark clothing retains more heat, so best to avoid wearing it.

23) Clean up still water. Remove or drain any excess still/stagnant water. Remove still water from bird baths, dog bowls, and any other places where water sits for a long time without movement.

24) Make sure lids are tight on Rotoplasts, bins, and barrels.

25) Irrigate gardens early in the morning to ensure excess water is dried out by natural sunlight.

26) Dragonflies in larvae-nymph stage are the preferred natural predator for consuming large amounts of mosquiteso. Your local extension office or university will help guide you to the right source.

27) Bats do not eat enough mosquitoes to make a huge difference. On average, one to two percent of a bat’s diet is mosquitoes. Purple Martins, a type of bird, eats mainly dragonflies and other flies.

28) Mosquito traps can destroy thousands of mosquitoes a night.

29) In scientific studies, bug zappers and electronic repellers are proven to be less effective than traps.

30) Use mosquito nets and natural insecticide repellents.

31) Fans and wind will keep mosquitoes at bay, but not totally away.

Mosquito-borne illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites transmitted by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can transmit illness without being affected themselves.

Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes include the following:

Malaria, Dengue, Filariasis, West Nile virus, Chikingunya, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Saint Louis Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, La Crosse Encephalitis, and Zika fever.

Nearly 700 million people get a mosquito-borne illness each year, resulting in more than one million deaths.

Cathy Ann HillCathy Ann Hill is the Head Guru of The Gardening Guru; 100% natural/organic insecticide products certified and sanctioned by the Ministry of Environment, Mexico, the State of Mexico, and the Health Lab in La Paz. Her mosquito repellent/barrier products include the following:

Mosquito B Gone RTU and concentrate indoor/outdoor barrier repellent

Pesky Mosquito Repellent for skin in small spritzer travel size bottle

Flea/Tick/Mite Pet and Premise Terminator in RTU and concentrate repels mosquitoes on pets.

You can find her on Facebook at The Gardening Guru, or e-mail gardeningguruinc@gmail.com.

references:

wikipedia.org/wiki/mosquito-borne_disease

https://www.megacatch.com/mosquito-faqs/mosquito-facts/

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