We all know that mosquitoes are extremely dangerous creatures. They are some of the most notorious spreaders of deadly diseases like dengue and malaria. But why do mosquitoes need blood?
1. Mosquitoes need blood to reproduce
For mosquitoes, it’s a life or death situation. They basically have no choice but to suck blood to survive as a species. This is because blood has the necessary ingredients for mosquito eggs to develop. Without blood, mosquitoes will have a hard time developing eggs.
Blood is also full of other nutrients like iron and protein. Mosquitoes can’t get these nutrients from other sources, making blood an even more attractive meal.
2. Only female mosquitoes need blood
Surely, you have been bitten by mosquitoes before. But you don’t exactly know or care whether the mosquitoes that bit you are males or females. Here’s a fun fact for you — only female mosquitoes bite you for your blood. Naturally, female mosquitoes are the ones that lay eggs, so they are the ones who truly benefit from blood and its nutrients.
Even if male mosquitoes want to, they will still not be able to bite you. They don’t have the body parts for it. They don’t have the stingers necessary to pierce through your skin and suck your blood.
3. Certain people attract more mosquitoes
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be bitten by mosquitoes more often than others? When you are outside, there always seems to be one person who is constantly scratching because of mosquito bites while others are generally fine. This is because mosquitoes are more attracted to certain groups of people.
For instance, mosquitoes are more attracted to pregnant women and those with Type O blood. This is because of how mosquitoes find their victims. Mosquitoes use certain indicators to find you, such as carbon dioxide. And because pregnant women exhale more carbon dioxide than others, they are more easily found.
Other known mosquito attractors are heat and sweat. It’s also said that alcohol, dark clothing, and floral scents attract mosquitoes too. But these claims don’t have solid scientific evidence.
4. Mosquitoes also bite other animals for blood
No, mosquitoes don’t exist just to annoy people. In fact, they are pretty useful to the environment too. Mosquitoes clean biological waste, help in pollination, and indirectly preserve rainforests by preventing humans from settling in.
Mosquitoes are not targeting you in particular. They actually consume blood from other animals too, such as the cats and dogs in your household and the other mammals in the wild. You just think that they are after you in particular because of how you move. If you go camping, for example, and you don’t cover yourself, you are basically inviting mosquitoes to ruin your night.
5. Mosquitoes have a diverse diet
Indeed, only the female mosquitoes are able to feed on your blood. But since blood has so many nutrients outside of those that help in producing eggs, you may think that the male mosquitoes are missing out. But here’s the thing — mosquitoes have a more diverse diet than you realize. Even the female mosquitoes don’t rely exclusively on blood.
Mosquitoes get their nutritional needs in nectar, plant saps, water, and other organic materials you can find in the wild. This is why they are so helpful in cleaning biological waste and pollination. Mosquitoes are not exactly known for being picky eaters. With that said, they are not very fond of reptiles and their blood.
6. Mosquitoes like to nest in stagnant water
Mosquitoes prefer nesting in stagnant water. This is why they thrive so well in marshes, ponds, rainforests, and swamps. But they are obviously closer to humans. Unfortunately, there are a lot of areas around human habitat where there is stagnant water. Even your home’s exterior may be the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Birdbaths, flower pots, fountains, pavements, rainwater barrels, swimmings pools, vases — these are just some of the areas in your home’s exterior where mosquitoes may thrive. Make sure to drain or wipe away all areas that shouldn’t have water in them. For those that are supposed to have water, such as flower pots and swimmings pools, make sure to keep the water fresh and preferably running.
7. Mosquito bites are seriously dangerous
You don’t want mosquitoes nesting near you. They may put you at risk of diseases that have killed millions of people, such as chikungunya, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, West Nile, yellow fever, and Zika. It’s easy to assume that these diseases will not affect you. What are the odds, right?
You are more vulnerable than you think, especially if you are from Africa, Asia, or South America. In fact, according to the CDC, about forty percent of the world’s population or approximately three billion people live in areas with dengue risk.
8. Mosquito bites are not just about deadly diseases
When you think about mosquito bites, the first consequences that come into your mind are mosquito-borne diseases. Sure, these diseases are the biggest risks associated with mosquito bites. But there are also other risks that you can’t completely ignore.
Mosquito bites can cause allergic reactions, and these allergic reactions can be so severe that they become deadly too. These incidents rarely happen, but the fact that they still do should be enough to make you concerned.
When mosquitoes bite you, they inject some of their salivae into your system. Your body may attack these salivae because they are foreign substances after all. This may result in itching and other allergy symptoms.
9. You can protect your family from mosquitoes
You don’t have to live in fear of mosquitoes and the dangers associated with them. Here are some quick tips to protect you and your family from these dangerous bloodsuckers:
- Avoid the common mosquito attractors — heat and sweat. Keep your body and surroundings cool and regularly take a bath.
- Cover as much skin as possible when there are mosquitoes around. Long-sleeved shirts and pants are ideal.
- Apply mosquito repellents on your skin. DEET-based repellents are very effective.
- Turn on a fan at night to keep mosquitoes away. Mosquitoes are weak fliers and the wind from fans is enough to blow them away.
- Keep your surroundings clean. Avoid having stagnant water, especially in your garden, lawn, and yard.
- Fix drainage and plumbing issues. They may be secretly providing stagnant water on your property for mosquitoes to nest.
- Use mosquito sprays to kill and repel mosquitoes. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label and be careful using them around children and pets.