Mosquitoes make up one of the largest populations of insects around the world. With millions of them flying around and countless more being born each day, it’s easy to understand how they spread so quickly. They’re transported from one place to another via planes, cargo ships, and more.
So, where do mosquitoes live? Mosquitoes live in all kinds of environments, though they prefer to be near a water source. Here are a few common habitats:
- Pools of tepid freshwater
- Fields of tall grass
- In hollow trees
- Under leaves
- Bushes and weed
Mosquitoes are feared, respected, and studied, yet they still remain a mystery to us all. After millions of years of populating the Earth, they’ve continued to grow in population and the area that they live in. Without further ado, let’s check out the most fascinating facts about mosquitoes!
1. Mosquitos are cold-blooded & live in hot & humid environments
Yes, mosquitos are in fact cold-blooded. They generally live in hot and or humid environments. Moreso, they THRIVE in these conditions as it’s their ideal living environment.
Cold-blooded creatures like mosquitos can’t regulate their own body temperature, making warmer weather a more natural time for them to come out. That’s why we see many infestations come to in tropical climates.
2. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water near where they live
Generally, mosquitos lay their eggs in or near water. Primarily, they lay their eggs near pools of tepid fresh water. This goes along with their favorite climate: a humid environment.
3. Mosquitoes have evolved to resist most repellants
People spend millions of dollars per year to keep these bugs away from their crops, houses, and skin, yet mosquitoes continue to adapt and push through all odds. Each generation becomes more resilient than the previous one.
Not only that, but some mosquitoes have developed the ability to consume herbicides and repellents that are supposed to keep them away. We spray bug repellant on our arms, neck, and face to stop them from biting, but they aren’t stunned or held back for too long!
In order for most common products to be effective, they need to be reapplied every 20-30 minutes give or take. Even then the results can vary.
One study testing out the effect of several different repellent agents for mosquitos found that one base repellent ingredient, DEET, led to a decrease in bites for over 300 minutes as opposed of other types which repelled for less than half of the time.
Shameless plug, here’s a good start for your search on DEET products – check out Repel’s Insect Repellent.
4. There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world
Despite the fact that we often think they look the same, mosquitoes have a wide variety of physical features that are completely different from their distant cousins. Longer legs, bigger bodies, and better vision are a few distinctions to mention. There are over 3,000 species of mosquitos worldwide.
5. Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading three of the world’s most common viral infections and diseases
Malaria, Zika, and West Nile Virus are the well-known names that we all have heard before. Fortunately, modern medicinal advancements have created deterrents and occasional cures for such illnesses.
These diseases are primarily found in parts of Africa, South America, and Asia but they’ve now made their way to many other countries (in varying amounts).
6. The Asian Tiger Mosquito came to the USA on a shipment of tires
No, they didn’t swim, and no, they didn’t fly across the ocean. The Asian Tiger Mosquito that came to the USA on a shipment of tires from Asia, however, most mosquitoes stay where they’re born.
This particular mosquito came to California quite some time ago but the invasive species is since, under control.
7. Only female mosquitoes bite
Males are usually found eating flower pollen and other food sources. The reason that females bite is that they need to get protein from blood sources to supply it for their eggs. Since blood is naturally rich in protein and other essential components of life, it’s their best source.
Male mosquitoes actually have very little to do with the egg-laying and hatching process at all. The female carries eggs, gathers blood to nourish them, and lays them wherever they can find still water at their desired temperature range.
8. Despite the fact that we call it a “mosquito bite,” mosquitoes don’t actually have a set of teeth
They don’t chew their food, regardless of if it comes from plants or animals. All they use is a tube on the front of their mouths that looks like a straw. This tube is called a proboscis.
That’s not to say that a bite from these bugs doesn’t hurt. In fact, a mosquito bite from certain species can be more painful than a bee sting! Next time you go camping or out late at night, don’t forget to use the aforementioned repellents to keep their proboscis away. Even if they land on you, the taste will ward them off before they start sucking blood.
9. Mosquitoes have been around for millions of years
It’s widely believed that mosquitos have been around for million years, possibly from the Jurassic Period! One of the oldest possible mosquitos Burmaculex antiques, which dates back to up to 100 million years. Regardless, knowing that they’ve been able to adapt through Ice Ages and other events is impressive.
Perhaps the main reason that mosquitoes have been able to live for so long is due to the fact that they only need blood from an animal and plants for the males (as well as still water). Since all of those sources have been around, it’s safe to say that mosquitoes stay where they need to survive.
10. The flight range of mosquitoes varies from 50m and 50km
Some mosquitoes will travel as far as 50km to find a single food source. When their size is factored in, the distance becomes quite astounding.
Some species of mosquitoes can reach anywhere from 40-100cmfs for shorter flights. It might look like they’re zooming around, but only because they’re so much smaller than us. They’re not very aware of movements from their prey, which can make them vulnerable targets.
11. Mosquitoes are considered to be one of the most dangerous creatures in the world
It sounds a bit crazy when you think about the fact that they’re so small, slow, and toothless, but their threat is very real. The three diseases mentioned earlier on the list have caused serious problems around the globe.
Unfortunately, underdeveloped countries have had issues trying to contain the spread of viruses. Most of them are caused by parasites that mosquitoes carry, not the actual bug itself. However, the parasites don’t seem to cause illnesses in the host. This is why a single mosquito can be responsible for the spread of a massive disease.
12. Mosquitoes hibernate during the winter
Have you ever noticed that mosquitoes aren’t out and about as much during the winter? It’s because they hibernate when the outside temperature dips too low. Rather than sticking around to freeze in the cold weather, they find a safe place to hide and warm up.
Sadly for them, mosquitoes have problems when it comes to laying eggs during the winter. Larvae often don’t make it, and eggs don’t produce anything. The mother will sometimes freeze in cold water when she’s trying to lay eggs as well. Rather than suffer, they usually wait until the water gets hotter.
Another issue comes up with the actual hibernation itself. Bears and other thicker animals with much fatty tissue have no problems hibernating because of their large amounts of fat. Mosquitos, well, don’t have much fat. More specifically, the females are the only ones who hibernate, but many don’t make it past hibernation, most likely due to lack of fat.
13. The itchiness that comes from mosquito bites is due to an allergic reaction to their saliva
Many humans are allergic to mosquito bites because the chemicals in their saliva are designed to loosen blood. Basically, this anticoagulant makes it easier for them to drink.
If you scratch a mosquito bite, the saliva spreads around and causes a bigger bump. The next time you reach to itch a bite, hold back and wait a few minutes. It’ll go away, and the bump will lower in a matter of days. The more you scratch, the longer it lasts! Apply numbing spray to take away the itch and pain if you have any.
14. Mosquitoes are attracted to sweat and body heat
Mosquitoes are targeting lactic acid and carbon dioxide, both of which we produce in copious amounts during the summer. When it’s hot outside, and most people are running around sweating, mosquitoes can smell it from very far away. Plainly, mosquitos are simply attracted to body heat and moisture (things likely to happen during the summer).
What makes these small insects even more impressive is that they don’t have great vision at all. In fact, they rely on their sense of smell to track prey, eat from flowers and other plants, and even to sometimes find a place to lay their eggs. Staying cool will keep them away more often than not.
15. Mosquitoes provide a great food source for a plethora of animals, including bats, birds, frogs, and some reptiles
Thankfully, there are other animals looking to bite back at mosquitos for us. Without this constant supply of food, we could see a dip in the population of all of those animals, as well as others who consume them.
While it might seem logical to get rid of mosquitoes, they’re a foundational pillar of local ecosystems. For example, a frog who relies on mosquitoes could starve, which takes away food from birds who eat frogs. The birds will starve, which causes larger birds, cats, and other animals to go hungry.
16. Most mosquitoes live much shorter lives than other insects and animals
Males usually stay around for only one to two weeks, and females can live up to two months. It’s believed that males don’t live as long because they don’t have much of a purpose other than creating eggs with a female.
Once a female mosquito has reached their maximum potential in terms of how many eggs she can lay, she doesn’t have a purpose anymore. Despite such short lifespans, mosquitoes continue to thrive and repopulate at a rate much higher than almost any other being on the planet. All of their functions are designed to reproduce and continue their bloodline.
It’s essentially a very accelerated lifespan.
17. A mosquito gave malaria to George Washington, which caused a series of serious health problems
George Washington was plagued with an absurd amount of issues. He experienced severe hearing loss due to the illness, much of which never came back for the rest of his life.
Although he was plagued with the parasite-caused health problem, he pushed through and didn’t slow down a bit. It’s unknown how long he had malaria or whether it went away completely. However, it’s safe to say that it was caused by a mosquito during the heat of summer.
18. Mosquitoes fly in the boundary layer
Mosquitos can orient themselves in what’s called the flight boundary layer. This is the closet layer of the atmosphere that touches the Earth!
In most cases, mosquitoes tend to spend more time at lower elevations, simply because they have more access to still water sources. Since water in the mountains often flows down to lakes, mosquitoes will find the still lake and lay their eggs there. Pockets of freshwater can form, in which some mosquitoes will make a home.
19. Mosquitoes mature quicker than almost any other living animal or insect on Earth
It only takes about 8 – 10 days for most species to go from egg to adult, but some of them can grow in as little as four days. They’re ready to consume flowers and their favorite red nectar right away, making them earlier eaters than other animals as well.
After this short time period, mosquitoes are ready to reproduce, find a source of blood (for the females), lay eggs, and end their cycle of life. It’s quite a quick process, but each mosquito does an incredible job of performing their essential functions to procreate. There are millions of mosquito life cycles each year!
This fast maturation period is why there are so many mosquitoes. Because they’re able to reproduce so quickly after they’re born, it’s easy for a new crop of mosquitoes to make a bunch of babies in an extremely short time.
20. Mosquitoes are incredibly lightweight
The term “light as a feather” should be switched to “light as a mosquito”! For instance, mosquitos can weigh less than 50 times that of a raindrop falling from the sky. Most raindrops usually weigh around 5g’s each. A mosquitos small size is why you don’t feel them land on you. In fact, most people don’t know that they’ve been landed on until they have a bite.
The troubles that they experience with being so lightweight include being pulled by subtle water currents, blown away by the wind, and swatted by animals that they’re biting. However, it’s nearly impossible for a mosquito to not live from a fall. Their bodies don’t have enough weight to crush themselves.
21. Mosquitoes need still water in order to survive, lay eggs, and pretty much everything else
If the water is moving, even with the slightest current, it could sweep their eggs away. Not only that, but females who lay their eggs in the water could fall into the water and drown. They’re able to see the slightest change in current to detect safe places.
Small still patches of water, such as puddles in the mud, plants that hold water, and lakes are popular sources. However, mosquitoes have also been found in swimming pools that were neglected, street puddles, abandoned houses, and more. Their willingness to find still water is one of the main reasons that they’ve lasted for millions of years.
22. Mosquitoes temperature increases after a blood meal
Females consume so much blood to feed themselves and their young. So much, in fact, their significant temperature rises after a blood meal. Males don’t eat nearly as much pollen as a female who drinks blood and therefore, doesn’t get that toasty temperature boost.
Summing up the buzz
Mosquitoes are some of the toughest insects around. They’ve managed to survive through the world’s toughest time periods, some of which have wiped entire species from the face of the planet. By relying on blood, water, plants, and warmth, their basic needs are found nearly anywhere on Earth, which is why they’re so prevalent and hard to get rid of!
Here are a few takeaways from the article:
- Mosquitoes are very slow and fly within the fight boundary zone.
- The itchiness from a mosquito bite is caused by an anticoagulant in their saliva.
- Mosquitoes weigh less than 50 times that of a raindrop.
- They’re responsible for numerous diseases around the world since they carry parasites.
- Mosquitoes have a short life cycle that ranges from two to eight weeks.
- Male mosquitoes don’t bite since they don’t have to provide protein for their young.
- Mosquitoes can smell lactic acid and carbon dioxide to track their next target.
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