There are plenty of things as adults we wish didn’t exist — the end of naptime for our toddlers, taxes, tantrums in the grocery store, and all those awful music videos the kids can’t live without.
We might also wish that all mosquitoes either cease to exist or at least not exist in our area… but both would bring about bad side effects.
While it might not be your favorite insect, mosquitoes serve a big purpose to the environment, affecting us. So we hate to say it, but thankfully, mosquitoes are here to stay.
So today, we want to talk all about mosquitoes: What they are, what they do, and what you can do to try to avoid bites. Warning: reading on might make you a little itchy.
It’s essential to understand mosquitoes if you’re going to learn how to live with them. So we are going to break down which ones bite and why and then give you a little knowledge into what’s happening to your body once they do.
Which Ones Bite & Why?
You might feel like a huge target for every single mosquito, but that isn’t quite accurate (although the feeling is definitely valid).
In actuality, only female mosquitoes, never male mosquitoes, will bite you, and they’ll only bite you when they have a need to lay eggs. Female mosquitoes require additional protein in their diet when they need to lay eggs. The extra protein boost comes from the blood they suck out when they bite.
If it also helps, humans are generally a last resort kind of meal. Most mosquito species that bite prefer to feed on animals (livestock or domestic pets) when they need to feed on blood.
Lastly, there are roughly 3,500 species of mosquitoes that exist in the world. Of these thousands, only about 6% of those species bite humans.
What Happens When Mosquitoes Bite Us?
The facts about female mosquitoes probably helped ease your mind a little when it comes to mosquitoes and their bites. But what happens if we do become a meal?
When a female mosquito bites us, she penetrates our skin using a mouthpiece known as a proboscis. This is a needle-like straw that gives them the blood they need beneath the surface.
When they bite, they release saliva onto our skin that numbs the area surrounding the bite site. This helps them drink as much as they need without getting caught. Once done, mosquitoes stop releasing saliva and go airborne again.
It’s not the bite that’s the real pain — the proteins in their saliva cause a reaction within our bodies. This generally looks like a red bump that itches for a few days.
For those with a more severe allergic reaction, you can expect heat pain and excessive swelling. The itching can last for a week or longer. For severe allergic reactions, seek out emergency health services.
Why We Need To Be Careful
Even the more severe allergic reactions don’t sound that menacing, but that’s not the worst part about being bitten by a mosquito. These buzzing beasts are actually the deadliest creatures on the planet.
They live longer than the average insect and can travel great distances between bites, taking with them serious and deadly diseases. Illnesses like Zika virus, Dengue Fever, and malaria are just some of the concerns that come along with mosquito bites. You’ll have to monitor the affected area for days after a bite to ensure that there aren’t any further complications present.
The Purpose of Mosquitoes
We warned you it was coming, but we do, in fact, have reasons why we need mosquitoes to exist. They are a big deal to our ecosystem, and even if you hoped you didn’t need them, we have a few reasons why you don’t want to swear them off completely just yet.
What Do Mosquitoes Do for the Ecosystem?
So female mosquitoes feed on blood on a habitual basis, but male mosquitoes get their sustenance from different sources. In the plant and insect world, they’re known as pollinators.
Male mosquitoes feed on the nectar of plants and flowers and carry the pollen with them, helping the plants grow and thrive. While these plant species may not be essential to our lives, as they don’t help crops grow, we know that other animals and insects rely on the plants to survive.
Mosquito populations also serve as a primary food source for birds, dragonflies, certain reptiles, and fish species; they are a part of the life cycle of this habitat, known as the biomass.
What this means is that mosquito larvae and eggs and adult mosquitoes are vital pieces to the puzzle. Mosquitoes are generally low-lying insects, meaning they stay low to the ground to hide in brush and grass and keep out of the swatting zone of humans. They stay low enough that many reptiles and some fish species can catch them.
These insects also need to lay eggs on bodies of standing water; this could be a large puddle or small drop. Their eggs and adolescent spawn are also a primary food source for amphibians so without them these reptiles and fish would cease to exist.
Why This Affects Us
This might not seem directly tied to our lives, but in the animal kingdom, the food chain is a critical component.
The idea of “who eats what” means that every step in the ladder is dependent on the step behind it. If mosquitoes didn’t have plants to eat, then mosquitoes would die off. This means that fish would lose a major food source and slowly die off. As fish die off, we lose a food source for us as well.
We’ve seen examples of the ecological impact of swarms of mosquitoes on an ecosystem in environments ranging from the arctic tundra to the rainforests.
We might be able to replace this food source with others, but it will eventually spread further into our food source until the effects of mosquitoes dying off become a considerable problem for other animals and us.
We might have to reluctantly agree to let mosquitoes thrive, but that doesn’t mean that we have to live with their bites. There are ways to avoid becoming a meal and still let them do their thing when it comes to nature.
How Do Mosquitoes Find Us?
Mosquitoes find us by sensing our presence; when we exhale, our carbon emissions act like a honing device for mosquitoes.
The first step to avoidance is understanding how they target us in the first place:
How To Stay Bite-Free
To keep your body bite-free, you need to be able to camouflage your breath from their radar. While some recommend larvicide to get rid of larval mosquitoes, this method requires harsh chemicals. The most natural and safest way to do this is through the power of essential oils.
Using our BuzzPatch, you can mask your breath from the target of mosquitoes and still be safe to enjoy your day outdoors. Knowing the vital role that mosquitoes play in the ecosystem means that you naturally respect the environment and all that goes with it.
Chemical insecticides, pesticides, and bug repellents carry with them a health warning and risk for both humans and the environment. Instead of using products that could destroy our habitats and create health problems for us along the way, essential oils provide a safe and effective method of keeping the bugs away.
Appreciate Bugs (From Afar)
We know they might ever be your favorite animal or insect, but mosquitoes have earned their respect. They’ve been around since prehistoric times and thankfully aren’t going anywhere.
With the information here, plus help from our essential oil patches, you can admire mosquitoes without having to supply them with their next meal.