Why Mosquitos Bite

Only Female Mosquitos Bite


Female mosquitos bite to obtain necessary proteins from blood so they can produce eggs.  Proteins in humans and animal blood are necessary for the female mosquito to produce fertile eggs; since males cannot produce eggs they have no need for blood.  Females require a new blood meal for every nest they lay, and produce about 250 eggs per meal.  That's where you come in...

How Mosquitoes Find Sources of Blood


Mosquitoes have been evolving for 30 million years and have developed an impressive array of sensory receptors.  They possess chemical, visual, and heat sensors, all designed to zero in on a blood source.  The chemical sensory receptors are located on the antannae, which allow mosquitoes to detect carbon dioxide.  All mammals give off carbon dioxide, including humans; the gas is excreted through the skin and is exhaled with each breath.  A mosquito can detect this scent from 100 feet away.

How Mosquitoes Bite


Female mosquitoes, unlike males, have a proboscis, which is a long, thin, needle-like syringe located at the mouth.  This syringe allows the female mosquito to pierce her victim and fill her abdomen with the victim's blood.  At the same time, when mosquitos bite they inject a small amount of saliva that thins the incoming blood so it doesn't clot in the narrow channel of the proboscis.

Why You're Itching


When a mosquito is done feeding, some of it's saliva remains in the wound and causes an immune system response, which often results in itching.  A welt forms, known as a wheal, and the body goes to work breaking down the proteins in the saliva.  The bite will continue to itch until the body has broken down all of the proteins, which generally takes 24 hours, but can vary depending on the person.  

It Get's Worse


Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism -- over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year. Not only can mosquitoes carry diseases that afflict humans, they also transmit several diseases and parasites that dogs and horses are very susceptible to. These include West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). In addition, mosquito bites can cause severe skin irritation through an allergic reaction to the mosquito's saliva - this is what causes the red bump and itching. Mosquito vectored diseases include Protozoan Diseases, i.e., Malaria, Filarial Diseases such as dog heartworm, and viruses such as Dengue, Encephalitis and Yellow Fever.



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