The fight against mosquitoes! (part-2)
Fun fact! Only female mosquitoes bite humans and other animals for blood, while male mosquitoes feed on flower nectar.
Talking of bites, mosquitoes don't have teeth. The females “bite” with a long, pointed mouthpart called a proboscis. They use their proboscis (hypodermic needle like mouthpart) to pierce the skin and probe around until they find a capillary to suck the blood from, often drinking up to three times its weight in blood Female mosquitoes feed on human blood, not for their own nutritional purposes but to produce their eggs, which they lay up to 300 at a time. The eggs are laid in clusters called ‘rafts’ on the surface of still water, or they are laid in areas that flood regularly. Eggs can hatch in as little as an inch of standing water. In the average lifespan of less than two months, female mosquitoes will lay eggs up to three times before they die. Look around carefully and you’re likely to find a couple of their breeding grounds right at your home.
Mosquitoes use number sensory inputs to detect and choose their victims. They can literally smell our breath. Their antennae have special receptors which detect the carbon dioxide released when we exhale and other chemical odours like octenol — a chemical released in sweat. If that was not enough, they are also attracted to cholesterol, folic acid, certain bacteria, skin lotions, and perfume.
But what is a predator without heat-vision? You can grab a pen and check that box too, as mosquitoes use heat sensors around their mouthparts to detect the warmth of the blood in our bodies and locate the best capillary for feasting. While it’s not heat vision in the truest sense of the word, it sure gets the job done for them.
In issue three we will get to know about some of the common diseases and their dangers in details and how mosquitoes pass them from person to person.