Mosquitoes have been
around for over 30 million years. During those millions of years, the mosquitoes have been perfecting their skills and have become experts at finding people to bite.
The word "mosquito" is Spanish for "little fly," and its use dates back to about 1583 in North America. Mosquitoes belong to the order Diptera, true flies. Mosquitoes are like flies in that they have two wings. But unlike flies, their wings have scales, their legs are long and the females have a long mouth part (proboscis) for piercing skin.
Only the Female Bites
The female mosquitoes are attracted by several things, including heat, light, perspiration, body odor, lactic acid and carbon dioxide. The female lands on your skin and sticks her proboscis into you; you may not feel the proboscis as it is very thin. Anticoagulants contained in her saliva prevent your blood from clotting. She extracts a small portion of your blood into her abdomen - about 5 micro liters per serving. She may also bite several times.
After she has bitten you, some saliva remains in the wound. The proteins from the saliva evoke a natural immune response. The bump around the bite area is called a wheal and causes the itching sensation, a response provoked by the saliva. The swelling goes away, while the itch remains for a bit longer while your immune cells break down the saliva proteins.
A mosquito has a variety of ways to locate their prey,
Mosquitoes sense carbon dioxide and lactic acid up to 100 feet away. People and other mammals, as well as birds, exhale these gases as part of their normal breathing. Certain chemicals produced in sweat also seem to attract mosquitoes. Significant research is ongoing, which is attempting to determine why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others; no conclusions at this time.
It's a good to assume, from the mosquitoes perspective, that anything moving is an opportunity for a meal. If you wear bright-colored clothing, you will be more visible and more susceptible to mosquito attack.
Mosquitoes can detect heat, so they can find warm-blooded mammals and birds very easily once they get close enough.
Mosquitoes can fly an estimated one to one and a half miles per hour. Some species remain close to their breeding site, while many others fly up to ten miles or more in search of food.
Mosquitoes, like all insects, are cold-blooded. As a result, their body temperatures are the same as their surroundings. In temperate climates, adult mosquitoes become inactive with the onset of cool weather and enter hibernation to live through the winter. In spring, or when temperatures rise, the females emerge from hibernation and immediately look for food.
To treat mosquito bites, you should wash them with mild
soap and water.
Try to avoid scratching the bite area, even though it itches. Some anti-itch medicines such as Calamine lotion or over-the-counter cortisone creams may relieve the itching. Typically, you do not need to seek medical attention (unless you feel dizzy or nauseated, which may indicate a severe allergic reaction to the bite).