Mosquitoes are annoying, but when you really start to study them, you can find out some surprisingly interesting things about them. The following is a round up of some of the most uncommon bits of knowledge about a very common pest.
In the United States, you can find 176 different species of mosquitoes. Texas has the unhappy distinction of having the most different varieties for one single state, while West Virginia has the fewest.
What do mosquitoes have in common with honeybees? The main food source for mosquitoes is also plant nectar.
Male mosquitoes don’t bite people – only the females do.
When a female mosquito needs blood to produce her eggs, humans aren’t her first choice for what is gruesomely called a “blood meal” – most female mosquitoes would rather bite a cow, horse, or a small mammal such as a dog or squirrel. In addition, some mosquitoes only bite birds, reptiles or amphibians for their blood meal.
Mosquitoes can fly at a speed of one mile per hour.
Most mosquitoes live only about two to three weeks, although some species can live as long as six months. Males of the species generally live a shorter period of time than the females.
Mosquitoes from salt marshes have been known to fly up to 40 miles from their breeding location in search of food.
Mosquitoes and Disease
Diseases carried by mosquitoes include malaria, the West Nile Virus, dog heartworm, equine encephalitis, dengue and yellow fever.
There’s no evidence that mosquitoes can transmit the HIV virus or AIDS.
More than one million people die each year from mosquito-borne diseases.
That itchy, red mosquito bite is actually a localized allergic reaction to mosquito saliva.
While researchers have some clues as to what attracts mosquitoes to humans, they still haven’t figured out exactly why mosquitoes seem to target some people more than others.
The more carbon dioxide and lactic acid you produce, the more likely you are to attract a mosquito. Who produces more carbon dioxide and lactic acid? Overweight people and very active or fidgety people.
Mosquitoes usually prefer to bite women over men.
They may not be gentlemen, but even mosquitoes prefer blondes, biting them more frequently than brunettes.
Mosquitoes are very attracted to the smell of stinky feet and Limburger cheese.
One study found that mosquitoes were more active during a full moon than during other parts of the lunar cycle.
Dark clothing seems to attract mosquitoes more than light colored clothing.
The most effective mosquito repellent is still DEET, which was developed more than 50 years ago.
Yellow light bulbs don’t repel mosquitoes – they just don’t attract mosquitoes like brighter, hotter incandescent light does.
Mosquitoes seldom bite when there’s a light breeze blowing. That means that if you keep the air moving on your outside porch or deck, you might get fewer mosquito bites.
Electronic bug zapper lights do not do a good job of killing mosquitoes, but they do an excellent job of killing the bugs that songbirds like to eat.
Neither bats nor birds are especially effective at reducing mosquito populations, though both will eat mosquitoes from time to time if they come across them.