Mosquito Talk
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Info & FAQ

Mosquitos are classified as the deadliest animal on the planet due to their role as a disease vector for hundreds of deadly viruses and bacterial infections in humans and animals. At least 61 different species of mosquitoes exist in South Carolina. The two wing insects whose name means “little fly” are closely related to flies like gnats and no-see-ums. Like most insects, mosquitoes have two compound eyes, each of which contains thousands of six-sided lenses that point in all different directions and move independently. Mosquitoes can’t focus their eyes like people. Instead, their eyes stay open to help them detect quick movements.

An adult mosquito can live as long as five months. It may take several months for a larva to develop to the adult stage in cold water. Eggs of floodwater mosquitoes may remain dormant for several years and hatch when they are covered with water. An adult female mosquito weighs only about 1/15,000 ounces (about 2.0 milligrams) about the weight and size of a grape seed. A mosquito's wings beat from 300 to 600 times per second and can fly about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour.

Male mosquitoes find female mosquitoes by listening to the sound of their wings beating. The males can identify the correct species by the pitch of the female's wings.

Ninety seconds is all it takes for a female mosquito to have a blood meal. This is not her main course, as she typically likes to dine on nectar, but she needs the protein in our blood to breed. It would take about 18,000 mosquito bites to drain all of your blood in one hour.

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Mosquito Life Cycle

A mosquito's life cycle is called complete metamorphosis, which means that they have four stages of development: eggs - larva - pupa - adult.

Mosquito Larva

The mosquito larvae are aquatic creatures that feed on algae, bacteria, and other microorganisms in the water. They spend most of their time hanging upside down at the surface, sucking in oxygen from breathing tubes located in their tails. They're often called “wigglers” because that's how they move in the water, propelling themselves with a frantic twitching motion. At this stage, a mosquito larva is vulnerable to predators such as fish and birds and other mosquito larvae. Mosquitoes are cold-blooded and rely on external heat sources to warm their bodies. Development depends on the temperature. The warmer it is, the faster the mosquito larvae will grow. Most larvae develop over a week or so and shed their skin four times. This is known as molting, and they are on the way to becoming mosquito pupae.

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Mosquito Pupae

The mosquito pupae – called “tumblers” – do not feed. They don't do much of anything except swim around in the water. Think of this as the teenage stage of the mosquito life cycle. They have short, curved bodies with a large head at one end and flippers for swimming at the other. They are lighter than water, so they live at the surface, and, like the larvae, they must take in oxygen from time to time through two breathing tubes known as “trumpets.” When disturbed, mosquito pupae tumble down to the safety of deeper water and eventually float back to the surface. Inside their cocoons, they are developing into those flying insects we all hate. It can take up to four days, depending on the temperature of the water. Once the pupal tissue has developed into adult mosquito form, the adult uses air pressure to split the cocoon and emerge. The new mosquitoes will rest on the still water surface until their wings dry out and their bodies harden. Then, they take off to find you.

Adult Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes generally feed on plant nectar and honeydew. Male mosquitoes do not take blood, so when you feel a mosquito plunge into your skin and start siphoning your blood, you can bet it is a female every time. Typically, female mosquitoes start hunting as the sun goes down and will continue a few hours into the night, searching for any warm-blooded creature, such as people, dogs, cats, birds, and wildlife. We exhale carbon dioxide, and lactic acid from our sweat combine to make us smell like a mosquito buffet. The insects can pick up the scent from over 100 feet, and they can also see us moving and feel our body heat. They use a serrated proboscis to pierce the skin and inject an anticoagulant to keep the blood flowing. They include a mild painkiller, apparently to help them escape detection by their prey. The female mosquito will insert the proboscis into a capillary and withdraw as much blood as possible, up to three times her body weight. Once they've gotten blood, the mosquitoes fly away to a warm, damp place to rest and wait for their eggs to develop. That takes up to five days. A female can lay between 100-300 eggs at one time.

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While we all like to believe we are sweeter than the rest. The reasons that you become a mosquito magnet and they skip over your mate and friends is hard to pinpoint.

Studies have found that Blood O types are twice as likely to be bitten than people having different blood groups such as AB, A or B. Scientists have found that mosquitoes love Type O blood twice as much as they love Type A blood while type B is just average on the taste spectrum for mosquitoes. So, how does a mosquito identify the blood type of a person? The answer behind mosquitoes finding blood O group more delicious is because 85% of people secret a chemical through their skin that provides information on their blood type. The mosquitoes look for this particular chemical signal and approach their targets. For the remaining 15% who do not secrete the chemical signal, mosquitoes are not much interested in them, regardless of their blood type.

Yes, but please don’t hold your breath!

Another factor that drives mosquitoes to target some people more than others is by seeing the amount of carbon dioxide that a person exhales. Mosquitoes have an organ known as the ‘maxillary palp’, that detects the amount of CO2released by a person. With their ability to detect CO2 from over 150 feet away, people who exhale more CO2 are bitten more by mosquitoes. In addition to carbon dioxide, mosquitoes are also attracted to people by the smell of their sweat from having an active lifestyle which can attract a whole lot of Mosquitoes.

Only if you are driving or have a lampshade on your head! It’s not good news for beer drinkers. Why they prefer beer drinker types is still a mystery.

Yes, most likely it is your blood if it has already bitten you. If you kill a mosquito on a surface area and find blood, it is probably from someone else or an animal.

Yes. While it is a piercing for the entomologists in the room, us lay people call it a bite. “Taking the piercing out of outdoor living” just sounds like a weird tagline, so we are sticking with bite.