Tuesday, July 01, 2014

37 Mosquito Facts - Why Do Mosquitoes and Flies Circle Around My Head?


I just finished hiking and camping for 2-3 days and the mosquitoes and flies dominated me! So I decided I would ask Google, 


I realized there weren’t very clear answers.  Amy Gotliffe wrote: 

A ranger at a local park told me that since mosquitoes are attracted by the smell of carbon dioxide, given off by us when we exhale, perhaps the mosquitoes benefit from our jumping about when they try to buzz us, causing more breathing and more carbon goodness. Another expert said it was a little warning sign, a gift from nature, like a snake’s rattle. Another said the tone attracts the male. Then why in MY ear? Does anybody really know?

I don’t have THE answer but this is what I found in the my last hour of reading:


1.     Mosquitoes locate blood hosts by scent, sight and heat. From 100 feet away (30 meters) mosquitoes can smell your scent, especially the carbon dioxide (CO2) you exhale. Biting flies are even better; they can smell their prey from 300 feet (100 meters) away. Because CO2 is present in the atmosphere (plants take in CO2 and give off oxygen), mosquitoes respond to higher-than-normal concentrations, especially when the CO2 is mixed with host-odor. They follow your scent upwind, and can see you at a distance of about 30 feet (10 meters). So….
2.     Mosquitoes’ chemical sensors can smell human breath. They have chemical sensors or receptors on their antennae that detect the carbon dioxide released when we exhale and lactic acid up to 100 feet (36 meters) away. Those plumes of CO2 rise into the air, acting as trails that the mosquitoes follow to find the source. Mammals and birds gives off these gases as part of their normal breathing.
3.     Mosquitoes’ visual sensors help see what’s alive- if you are wearing clothing that contrasts with the background, and especially if you move while wearing that clothing, mosquitoes can see you and zero in on you. It's a good bet that anything moving is "alive", and therefore full of blood, so this is a good strategy.  vs the opinion to avoid darker clothing attracts because mosquitoes are drawn to heat and darker clothes retain more heat than light-colored clothing.
4.     Mosquitoes’ heat sensors mark body heat as the target. Mosquitoes use heat sensors around their mouthparts to detect the warmth of your body – actually, the blood inside it – then land on you and locate the best capillaries for tapping. So they can find warm-blooded mammals and birds very easily once they get close enough.


5.     C02 out of your mouth
6.     Heat out of your head and ears
7.     Blood in your body (only females suck blood apparently)
8.     Mating Call to the opposite sex of mosquitoes also have a higher pitched buzzing


9.     Sweat helps mosquitoes choose their victims. Our skin produces more than 340 chemical odors, and some of them smell like dinner to mosquitoes. They are fond of octenol, a chemical released in sweat, as well as cholesterol, folic acid, certain bacteria, skin lotions, and perfume. Certain chemicals in sweat also seem to attract mosquitoes (so people who don't sweat much don't get nearly as many mosquito bites).
10.   Whoever exhales the most C02- It starts with the types of people who attract mosquitoes in the first place. Although mosquitoes can smell blood for miles, they mostly locate their prey by tracking the carbon dioxide that animals exhale. People who exhale more carbon dioxide - large people and pregnant women - are more obvious targets. There is also evidence that mosquitoes prefer women because their skin is thinner, allowing for an easier bite.
11.   TYPES (Especially O Blood Type)- Mosquitoes also uphold the old joke about vampires looking for people who are their "type." Different blood types either attract or discourage mosquitoes. If you have found yourself the sole person among a camping group bitten up, you're probably an O blood type. A group of scientists in Japan exposed people to groups of mosquitoes which had had their biting and sucking parts removed. The mosquitoes landed again and again on the O blood types, ignoring the A and B blood types.  Mosquitoes also have a sweet proboscis. They prefer people whose body chemistry secretes saccharides, which people who remember saccharin know taste sweet, on their skin.
12.   It’s said, Mosquitos may go for the most "prominent" target. If your wife moves more than you (and breathes heavier), her motion attracts the insect more than you. She gets bit. A great mosquito defense is to move (and breath) less than your peers around you. Just like a cheetah goes for the sick and weak, mosquitos go for the moving and breathing.  Mosquitos go after warm spots through there millions of eyes. Because ears are in the head, where humans loose more body temperature, they go after them.


13.   Both male and female mosquitoes buzz, since they both have wings, but you probably won't notice the whine of the males, because they don't want to drink your blood. So they stay away from your ears, eating nectar, while the females come near to annoy you.
14.   So, their buzz is partially just them flying

15. The Buzz is also a Females mating call buzz where Male mosquitoes also locate females by the soundof their wings. Females can beat their wings up to 500 times per second, and the males pick out the higher frequency of those beatswhen seeking a mate. So it’smore than just a way to annoy you. It's actually important to help them findsuitable mates.


16.   Most mosquitoes remain within a 1 mile radius of their breeding site.
17.   Mosquitoes can't fly very far or very fast. Most mosquitoes can fly no more than about one to three miles, and often stay within several hundred feet of where they were hatched. However, a few salt marsh species can travel up to 40 miles. The top speed for a mosquito is about 1.5 miles per hour.


18.   DEET & Repellants- mosquitoes simply don't like it because it smells bad to them. Endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), DEET is considered the 'gold standard' of mosquito repellents and doesn't actually mask the smell of the host or jam the insect's senses.  The most effective repellents contain DEET (N,Ndiethylmtoluamide), which repel pests like mosquitoes and ticks. DEET has been tested against a variety of biting insects and has been shown to be very effective. The more DEET a repellent contains the longer time it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of DEET in a repellent does not mean that your protection is better just that it will last longer. DEET concentrations higher than 50% do not increase the length of protection.  A product containing 10 percent DEET can protect you for up to 90 minutes.
19.   Two other repellents, picaridin and lemon-eucalyptus oil, have also proven effective and are now recommended by the CDC.  An alternative repellent Picaridin by Bayer, is an odorless and colorless repellent and has been recommended by the World Health Organization for use in Malaria stricken countries.
20.   Thermacell for Hunters- was a personal lifesaver on my last hiking trip… it took about 5-10 minutes before it took full effect but seemed to really help
21.   Lay off banana consumption during mosquito season; mosquitoes are thought to love how bananas react with the body's chemistry.
22.   You can scare off mosquitoes by eating garlic! Garlic is the main component in many herbalremedies. Mosquitoes hate it. Gardeners who eat lots of garlic may find thatthey scratch those mosquito bites far less. Of course, you would have to eat a lot of garlic and you may find that you repel more than just mosquitoes. Nevertheless, organic gardeners use garlic sprays, powders and plantings to help deter the creatures. It may not reduce their numbers dramatically, but when coupled with other natural combatants, you may see a reliable reduction.
23.   Researchers have found that catnip will repel all varieties of mosquitoes. They believe an essential oil found in catnip, the one that gives it its characteristic odor, is actually more effective at repelling these pests that Deet, the chemical used in most commercial insect repellants. Scientists aren't yet certain if it's simply the smell mosquitoes don't like or if the odor is actually an irritant for them, but either way, it is a terrific natural mosquito repellant.Appreciate Many beneficial animals that can greatly help reduce mosquito populations who use water sources to breed. Toads can eat between fifty and one hundred mosquitoes and slugs per night,


24.   THEY’LL DIE SOON!  The average mosquito lifespan is less than two months. Males have the shortest lives, usually 10 days or less, and females can live about six to eight weeks, under ideal conditions. The females lay eggs about every three days during that time. Females of species that hibernate may live up to six months.


25.   Antarctica is the only place mosquitoes do not live (just in case you planned on moving).
26.   Only female mosquitoes bite; they needs the protein in blood to help her eggs develop.  Once she's had her fill of blood, she'll rest a couple of days before laying her eggs. A mosquito can drink up to three times its weight in blood in one sitting. Don't worry, though. It would take about 1.2 million bites to drain all the blood from your body.  Both male and female feed mainly on fruit and plant nectar,.. Only female mosquitoes suck blood so that their eggs can mature prior to laying. The blood serves no nourishment. Both males and females feed on nectar.
27.   A mosquito doesn’t "bite", but siphons the blood out by a tube.
28.   Mosquitoes are crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk.  Mosquitoes do feed day and night though. Some species, like the Aedes are daytime biters, while others, like Culex, start biting at dusk and continue a few hours into dark.
29.   Mosquitoes are considered the most dangerous animals or deadliest “animal” in the world, killing an estimated two to three million people per year. The Anopheles mosquito, in particular, is dangerous because it transmits malaria, which kills more than one million people every year, primarily in Africa. Alexander the Great is believed to have died of malaria in 323 B.C.
30.   Mosquito is Spanish for “little fly.” The word reportedly originated in the early 16th century. In Africa, mosquitoes are called “Mozzies”.
31.   There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes. About 175 of them are found in the United States,
32.   Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. Usually, the eggs are deposited in clusters – called rafts – on the surface of stagnant water, or they are laid in areas that flood regularly. Eggs can hatch in as little as an inch of standing water. Females will lay eggs up to three times before they die.
33.   Mosquitoes hibernate. At temperatures less than 50 degrees, they shut down for the winter. They're cold-blooded and prefer temperatures over 80 degrees. The adult females of some species find holes where they wait for warmer weather, while others lay their eggs in freezing water and die. The eggs keep until the temperatures rise, and they can hatch.
34.   The bumps from mosquito bites are caused by saliva. While one tube in the proboscis draws blood, a second pumps in saliva containing a mild painkiller and an anti-coagulant. Most people have minor allergic reactions to the saliva, causing the area around the bite to swell and itch.
35.   Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives in mosquitoes. The parasite gets into mosquito saliva and is passed on when the insect bites someone. West Nile and other viruses are passed the same way. Mosquitoes can also carry and pass on canine heartworm.
36.   Mosquitoes do not transmit HIV. The virus that causes AIDS does not replicate in mosquitoes and is actually digested in their stomachs, so it's broken down without being passed on.
37.   The two main mosquito predators are fish and dragonflies. Gambusia, or mosquitofish, feed on mosquito larvae and are used all over the world to help control mosquito populations. Dragonfly larvae, called nymphs, eat mosquito larvae, and adult dragonflies prey on adult mosquitoes. Some towns in Maine release dragonflies every summer as a natural form of mosquito control. Bats do not eat mosquitoes. At least, not very many of them. Mosquitoes make up less than 1 percent of a bat's diet. And purple martins, a bird popularly believed to be a mosquito predator, eat very few mosquitoes. They prefer dragonflies and other insects.

(Buddies using their ol "ferns in the hat" trick to fight off the mosquito buzz)