Facts About Mosquitoes You May Not Have Known

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Summer means time outdoors, and time outdoors can be shared with mosquitoes.

How much do you know about these pesky pests?

Did you know only the females bite?

“They do require a blood meal to generate eggs,” Bill Todaro, an emtomologist at the Allegheny County Health Department said. “Male mosquitoes are only interested in sex.”

Some mosquitoes prefer humans, some prefer other animals like birds.

Mosquitoes can suck a lot, and quickly.

“It only takes them about 30 seconds, but they very quickly have a mouth part that’s adapted to, they chew right down and find a capillary, pop into it, and within 30 seconds they just fill up with blood, two or three times their own weight, and fly off,” Todaro said.

Whether you get bitten has a lot to do with your personal chemistry.

“Carbon dioxide mostly out of your breath, and out of your skin, octonol, other hormones that emerge from our skin,” Todaro said regarding the substances we emit that make us attractive to mosquitoes.

“There are some people who are just lucky, that aren’t as prone, and some people are more prone,” Robin Gehris, a dermatologist at Children’s Hospital, said.

The good news is, mosquitoes are easily sent off track.

“These repellents, once they’re put on your skin, confuse the mosquito,” Todaro said. “All of a sudden there’s all these other chemicals that are overwhelming their radar and their sensory perception, and so they never land and take a bite. If they land, they take off very quickly.”

If you do get bitten, how badly you react can vary.

“If a person hasn’t been as exposed as frequently in their life to bites, they might be more prone to dramatically reacting each time they’re exposed,” Dr. Gehris said.

Of course, the worst reaction is to get infected with a life-threatening disease, which these insects are known to spread such as malaria, West Nile Virus, and dengue fever.

The best way to get rid of mosquitoes is to get rid of any standing water.

“If you are getting bitten by mosquitoes, there is a breeding source somewhere close to you,” Todaro said. “All it takes is an inch of water.”

The wet spring and a hot early part of the summer have made mosquitoes particularly bad this year. The Health Department is trapping 3,000 a week, compared to just 1,000 a week at the same time last year.

More from Dr. Maria Simbra
  • interested

    My grandmother used to tell me when I was young that I didn’t get bit by mosquitoes cause my blood was too sweet. I guess she was right. I became diabetic in 2003 after she passed away.

    • educate yourself

      I eat very healthy. I have never eaten anything fried, or potato chips. Never really ate pies or cookies, etc. Hasted them. I did like pasta and rice. But my father died from the disease and it has been confirmed mine is hereditary. Don’t just assume someone doesn’t eat healthy because they are diabetic. There are lots of people out there who are models, vegans, etc who still have the disease

  • paul

    When I was a kid my father told me how in vietnam that when a mosquito would bite them they’d pull on their skin making the mosquito’s mouth get stuck and suck too much blood making them explode. So I would do this all the time when I was a kid funny though I never get sick anymore, when I was taught how our body builds immunity I made my self prone to every type of disease and influenza scarlet fever mono parasites it was an amazing obsession and I never get sick now I even dish wash at night to make myself even more prone to millions of bacteria before I reach the age of 25 because i’ve been told that’s usually when the human body starts degenerating. I never get headaches I never have to take bayer, aspirin, tylenol. The only problem I ever had was a stomach ulcer and a mental illness that I’m quite fond of actually.

  • interested

    Malaria is spread by mosquitoes. Did you know in countries where is is common, people try to pass on sickle cell anemia to their offspring because it gives them some immunity from malaria. Your comment made me think of this Paul. Never heard of that before!

  • thoughts

    thought of the day: you people have way to much time on your hands.

    • pitt

      No, I have alot of interests and education.

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