Mosquito Facts For Kids
Grappling with the mosquito menace? While you take them head on, here’s a round-up on some interesting mosquito facts for you and your child.
By Parama Gupta
Mosquitoes are irritating and dangerous. Not only do they ruin a good night's sleep, but are also carriers of deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya. And, their numbers only seem to be increasing, no matter what we do to eradicate them. All these make the tiny mosquito a formidable foe to humans.
To win the battle against mosquitoes, it is important to 'know thy enemy'. So, here are some amazing facts about mosquitoes.
1. How dangerous are mosquitoes?
Close to 2.7 million lives are lost every year due to mosquito-borne diseases, and an estimated 500 million cases of mosquito-related diseases are reported every year. Africa accounts for the highest number of deaths in the world due to mosquito-borne diseases.
2. Why do mosquitoes need blood?
Only female mosquitoes suck human and animal blood, which is essential for them to lay eggs. They need this blood when carrying fertilised eggs. Male mosquitoes, on the other hand, subsist on a vegetarian diet of fruits, nectar and plant juices.
3. How many species of mosquitoes are there?
Scientists have found over 3,000 species of mosquitoes. Of these, only three are known to wreak havoc on mankind. They are the Anopheles, the Culex and the Aedes. These three species are responsible for causing almost all the mosquito-borne diseases in the world.
4. What are some deadly diseases caused by mosquitoes?
The deadliest mosquito-borne diseases are malaria, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Dengue is currently considered to be the most prevalent mosquito-borne disease worldwide, with 40 per cent of the world’s population at risk of contracting it.
5. How long does a mosquito live?
In the mosquito world, the females outlive the males. The average life span of a male mosquito is around a week to ten days while that of a female mosquito is six to eight weeks.
6. Why does a mosquito bite itch?
When a mosquito bites, it injects its own saliva to prevent blood from clotting. Our body is allergic to some proteins found in the saliva. So, it releases histamine which activates our body's defence mechanisms. It is the histamine which causes the itching.
7. What does a typical mosquito habitat look like?
Stagnant water is the favourite breeding ground for mosquitoes. Even an inch of stagnant water is sufficient for mosquitoes' eggs to hatch.
8. How many eggs does a female mosquito lay at a time?
At a time, a female mosquito can lay nearly 200 to 300 eggs. And, these can survive up to five years before they hatch! Usually, mosquito larvae, take about 10 days to turn into adult mosquitoes.
9. What attracts mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes employ different methods to find their food source. They can find human and animal victims through the smell of carbon dioxide exhaled by them. They can also smell sweat, sense body heat and use visual stimulus to detect their victims. Wearing dark-coloured clothes is also likely to put you at a greater risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes. This is because dark colours absorb heat and mosquitoes can sense thermal stimuli to identify their targets.
10. How do mosquitoes spread diseases?
There are different ways through which mosquitoes spread diseases. In anopheles mosquitoes, which are responsible for causing malaria, the malaria parasite remains attached to the antennae of the female of the species. So, when it bites, the parasite is transmitted into the human body. Dengue and yellow fever are transmitted through mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus and the Flavivirus, respectively.
11. Do mosquitoes bite animals?
Humans are not the only living beings affected by mosquito bites. Dogs, horses and cows are also prone to being bitten by mosquitoes. In fact, studies have found that mosquitoes prefer animal blood to human blood for nutrition.
12. When are mosquitoes most active?
Mosquitoes can’t bear extreme heat. So, they are most active at dusk and dawn, as the temperature is relatively lower at these times. During the day, they usually find cooler hideouts to rest.
13. How much blood can a mosquito suck at a time?
At a time, a mosquito can suck blood up to three times its body weight. However, loss of blood due to mosquito bites is not a major concern as a single mosquito bite takes away only 0.01 to 0.001ml of blood.
14. Can mosquitoes spread the HIV virus?
Mosquitoes cannot spread HIV. If a mosquito sucks the blood of an HIV-infected person, the virus is absorbed by its digestive system, and cannot be passed on to another human being.
Fun facts about mosquitoes
- The word mosquito originates from the Spanish term for 'little fly'.
- Male mosquitoes have a well-developed mechanism of wooing the female mosquitoes. They first detect the presence of potential mates through the 16,000 sensory cells packed in their ears, nearly the same in number as those in human ears. They then synchronise the frequency of their whine with that of the female to establish contact. And then, it's a matter of about 15 seconds before they finish mating.
- Mosquitoes are known to have inhabited the earth right from prehistoric times, which is nearly 200 million years ago.
- On an average, a female mosquito flaps its wings 500 times in a second! This causes the annoying hum you hear when a mosquito is flying around. This frequency also helps them get away from you before you can catch them.
- Even though mosquitoes are regarded as slow flyers, they are capable of flying continuously for four hours. They, however, do not fly for long distances.
- Mosquitoes do not have teeth. However, 'mosquito bite' is a widely used term. Mosquitoes only suck blood. ‘Bite’ usually refers to the bump that forms after a mosquito sting.
Now that you know a lot more about mosquitoes and their habits, make sure you take necessary precautions to safeguard yourself and your family from this much-dreaded nuisance. While it may not be possible to eradicate mosquitoes, it is certainly possible to prevent mosquito bites.
About the author:
Written by Parama Gupta on 23 August 2019
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