Mosquito’s? Here’s what you need to know by Patrick Linn
In the text, The Art of War, General Sun Tzu advised that knowing one’s enemy (and self) will remove the perils – give you an edge – in battle. All of Southwest Florida’s residents are engaged in battle with mosquitoes throughout most of the year. They were here long before us, they aren’t going away, and their abundance is mind boggling. Mosquitoes most certainly are not our friends.
Thus, the Collier Mosquito Control District’s mission is to go into battle for its community, to protect public health and comfort, all via knowing the enemy. Here, we’re sharing some important aspects of the enemy that we think you should know, as well as some information to give you the advantage going into battle with the deadliest animal on earth.
• If you have been bitten by a mosquito, it was a female. The female mosquito generally needs a meal of blood before she can lay eggs. The protein and iron from the blood meal are necessary nutrients for egg development. What about the diet of male mosquitoes? They do fine with just plant nectar.
• That itch left behind after her bite is your body’s immune (allergic) response to her saliva! A female mosquito’s saliva contains an anti-coagulant, ensuring she has a steady flow of blood for her meal. There’s also a local anesthetic in the spit so you don’t feel her feeding.
• She may be tiny, but the female mosquito has an enormous appetite. Depending on the species, some female mosquitoes can drink their entire body weight in blood during a meal. That would be like a 130-pound human eating 130 pounds of food in one sitting!
• What is the world’s deadliest animal? Most people think of sharks, alligators, or lions, but mosquitoes hold the title. Why?
Mosquitoes are able to transmit several serious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus. Mosquito-borne
diseases kill nearly 1 million people each year around the globe. • Mosquitoes don’t just seek blood from humans. Some species
get their blood meals from amphibians or birds, and some even get it from earthworms!
• A female mosquito finds her human host through the carbon dioxide we emit through breathing and the scent of our skin sweating. They can actually sense carbon dioxide from 50 yards away! Contrasting colors in clothing also attract mosquitoes. We can’t hold our breath or prevent the smell of our skin, but we can cover up with clothing. Doing so, when the weather allows, makes it difficult for the mosquito to pierce our skin.
• A female mosquito must deposit her eggs in or near water, and they grow quickly – only 5-7 days in the Southwest Florida
environment. Just a bottlecap of standing water can produce mosquitoes, so regularly dump any standing/stagnant water around
your home to avoid creating your own mosquito farm.
• Repellents work! They are proven protection from mosquito bites and the potential for disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists only four chemicals as being truly effective for repelling mosquitoes: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (or its synthetic version, called PMD) and IR3535. Each of these active ingredients are safe for use on humans older than six months of age.
Want to know more about the science behind mosquito control? Looking for someone to speak to your group’s next meeting? Visit the District’s website at cmcd.org or call 239.436.1000
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!