Jul 29, 2019

Interesting Mosquito Facts

We are in the season, so thought some juicy tidbits might be in order. Of the 3,000 species of mosquitoes around the world, at least 150 are found in the United States, and 85 of those can be found in Texas.
The female mosquitoes, which are the ones that sting and suck blood, are the transmitter of disease, and the deadliest animals in the world. Each year, the malaria parasites they transmit kill 2 million to 3 million people and infect another 200 million or more. They also spread pathogens that cause yellow fever, dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya, and West Nile disease.
Not every species of mosquito sucks blood from people, and among those that do, not every one transmits disease. Males live entirely on nectar and other plant fluids, and the females’ diet is primarily plant-based, too. Most of the time, they only go after people when they are ready to reproduce, because blood contains lipids, proteins, and other nutrients needed for the production of eggs.
What you see sticking out of a mosquito’s face is the labium, which sheaths the mouth parts that really do all the work. The labium bends back when a mosquito bites, allowing these other parts to pass through its tip and do their thing. The sharp, pointed mandibles and maxillae, which both come in pairs, are used to pierce the skin, and the hollow hypopharynx and the labrum are used to deliver saliva and draw blood, respectively.
The saliva that gets pumped out from the hypopharynx during a bite is necessary to reduce our blood’s tendency to clot. It contains a number of chemicals that suppress vascular constriction, blood clotting, and platelet aggregation.

An old wife's tale is that you can flex a muscle close to the bite site or stretch your skin taut so the mosquito cannot pull out its proboscis and your blood pressure will fill the bug until it bursts. The consensus among entomologists is that this is nonsense.

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