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Everything You Need to Know About Mosquitoes & See Video of What Happens When Mosquitoes Bite

 

Darlyne Marwaski Getty Images

It’s time to start worrying about mosquitos. we’ve put together everything you need to know about mosquitos.

The mosquito bite can be irritating, but mosquitos can carry diseases like the West Nile virus.

What is the life cycle of the mosquito?

Everything you need to know about mosquitos.

Mosquitoes have been around for more than 30 million years. And they have been honing their skills so that they are now experts at finding people to bite. How do mosquitos track their prey?

Chemical sensors 

Mosquitoes can sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid up to 100 feet (36 meters) away. Mammals and birds gives off these gases as part of their normal breathing. Certain chemicals in sweat also seem to attract mosquitoes (people who don’t sweat much don’t get nearly as many mosquito bites).

Visual sensors

If you are wearing clothing that contrasts with the background, and especially if you move while wearing that clothing, mosquitoes can see you and zero in on you. It’s a good bet that anything moving is “alive”, and therefore full of blood, so this is a good strategy.

Heat sensors 

Mosquitoes can detect heat, so they can find warm-blooded mammals and birds very easily once they get close enough.

This is what happens inside you when a mosquito bites:

Mosquitos are carriers for some of the most deadly illnesses, and they are public enemy number one in the fight against global infectious disease. Mosquito-borne diseases cause millions of deaths worldwide every year with a disproportionate effect on children and the elderly in developing countries.

There are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes, but the members of three are primarily responsibility for the spread of human diseases.

Anopheles mosquitoes are the only species known to carry malaria. They also transmit filariasis (also called elephantiasis) and encephalitis. Culex mosquitoes carry encephalitis, filariasis, and the West Nile virus. And Aedes mosquitoes, of which the voracious Asian tiger is a member, carry yellow fever, dengue, and encephalitis.

National Geographic

Did you know that only female mosquitoes have the mouth parts necessary for sucking blood. When biting, they stab two tubes into the skin: one to inject an enzyme that inhibits blood clotting; the other to suck blood into their bodies. They use the blood not for their own nourishment but as a source of protein for their eggs.

Mosquitoes transmit disease in a variety of ways. In the case of malaria, parasites attach themselves to the gut of a female mosquito and enter a host as she feeds.

One of the only ways to stop mosquitoes from finding you is to confuse their chemical receptors with something like DEET.

Here’s the makeup of adult Mosquitoes:

  • Head - This is where all the sensors are, along with the biting apparatus. The head has two compound eyes, antennae to sense chemicals and the mouth parts called the palpus and the proboscis (only females h­ave the proboscis, for biting).
  • Thorax - This segment is where the two wings and six legs attach. It contains the flight muscles, compound heart, some nerve cell ganglia and ­trachioles.
  • Abdomen - This segment contains the digestive and excretory organs.

Are you a mosquito magnet?

Who Mosquitoes Like Best

“There’s a tremendous amount of research being conducted on what compounds and odors people exude that might be attractive to mosquitoes,” says Joe Conlon, PhD, technical advisor to the American Mosquito Control Association. “Researchers are just beginning to scratch the surface,” he says.

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