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A Medical Professional Guide to Fascinating Mosquito Facts

Aug 17, 2007
With all of the diseases that mosquitoes transmit, it's medical science against the mosquitoes, and we have to fight hard just to stay even. Herein, a potpourri of facts about one of nature's most notorious blood-sucking pests.

One way to kill a mosquito, if you happen to catch it biting you on a convenient location such as the bicep of the arm, is to tense your skin to trap its little proboscis in your skin, then flex your bicep muscle. This apparently causes the mosquito to burst because of the pressure from your blood vessel, kind of like if you tried to drink from a fire hose. Amongst other experts, this fact has been confirmed by none other than Cecil Adams of the famous "Straight Dope" newspaper column. But even at that his conclusion was: "What's the point?"

Amongst some of the more unusual treatments for mosquito bite, some doctors say that applying a liquid antacid such as Mylanta is effective in relieving the itch and swelling of a mosquito bite. This is because it reduces the acidity of the anticoagulant chemicals in the mosquito's saliva.

The Japanese believe that being reincarnated as a mosquito is the punishment for living a criminal life. Thus, the fate of the immoral in the next life is to be a worthless plague on humanity, despised by all and eventually swatted.

Part of the reason mosquitoes are so hard to eradicate is that the mosquito's total lifespan, going by the average among all species, is only about twenty days after hatching anyway. Some even make it through their complete life cycle in just four days, not counting time spent as an egg. Nature has crafted the mosquito body to be a hyper-efficient machine designed only to eat, lay eggs, and die. The mosquito's eggs, however, can last a whole year before hatching.

The current best estimates are that there are about 2500 species of mosquitoes on planet Earth, with some 300 of them being known carriers of diseases dangerous to humans. Statistically, 70 million people worldwide catch diseases from mosquito bites every year.

Studies of mosquito bite patterns on humans have suggested that the people most likely to be bitten are overweight males with type 'O' blood. No one knows why, beyond hazard guesses as too taste.

The annoying buzz of a mosquito's wings is said to be between the musical keys of D and F. This is told to us by those folks who are gifted with perfect pitch.

Even after years of research into alternative insecticides, the most effective method of malaria control in the third world is the insecticide DDT. However, like viruses which become immune to antibiotics, mosquitoes in these countries where DDT has been applied the most are starting to show a greater resistance to the insecticide. This has come to be famously cited by biologists as evidence of rapid evolution.

In a test of natural plants to see which ones repel mosquitoes the best, it was discovered that clove oil is the closest to being effective. Which is too bad, since it is also toxic to human skin! Oils from many other plants, including rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus, bergamont, bay, pennyroyal, cinnamon, cedar and geranium have all proven to be a tiny bit effective for brief periods of time up to an hour.

The World Mosquito Killing Championships (WMKC) is an annual event in Pelkosenniemi, Finland. As you might guess, the object is to kill as many mosquitoes as possible by hand in five minutes; no machines or chemicals allowed. The holder of the World and Guinness record for mosquito killing is one Henri Pellonpaa, for killing 21 at the 1995 championship. This broke the previous record of just seven.

The Iroquois Indians have a legend of the mosquito. The story goes that originally there were just two mosquitoes, but they were giant creatures as tall as a pine tree and they attacked and ate people. A bunch of braves surrounded them one day and finally killed them, but as the blood of the beasts touched the ground, a swarm composed of millions of tiny mosquitoes sprung up from it. The little ones bite us today because they crave revenge for their ancestor's defeat.

Male mosquitoes tend to hatch faster than female mosquitoes, and they also have an even shorter life span. Only the females suck blood; the males live on fruit nectar and do not bite creatures. Furthermore, the females only go looking for a blood meal in order to generate enough protein to lay eggs.

In world history, the only major engineering feat hampered entirely by insects is the digging of the Panama canal project, during which mosquitoes contributed to the malaria deaths of almost 22,000 French workers in the years 1881 to 1889. It was not until after the project was abandoned and sold to the United States that it was completed, but at the expense of over 5000 more lives, despite the precautions the United States took.

It is said that the reason mosquitoes attack our ankles is simply because the odor of our sweat is at its strongest there, and the scent of sweat is one of the chief ways mosquitoes locate their prey. It also might have something to do with the fact that our eyes and ears are at the other end of our bodies, which makes for a stealthy attack.

Most naturists believe that mosquitoes are one of the few species which would make little impact on the global environment, if they all were to suddenly become extinct. There is no predator who relies solely on mosquitoes for its diet, nor is there any essential service, such as pollination, provided solely by mosquitoes.

Amongst teenage cell phone users, a popular ring tone recently discovered is the "mosquito" one, which is a high-pitched tone that only the very young can hear. This is due to the fact that human's ability to hear high-frequency ranges decreases with age. The tone was accidentally introduced by convenience stores in the UK, where they originally broadcast the tone in an effort to keep teenagers from loitering out in front of the store. The device which played the tone was also called "the mosquito". Oh, the irony!
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Freelance writer for over eleven years.

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