For as long as people have been spending time outdoors, they have been dealing with mosquitos. This is not hyperbole, according to scientists…and not just fake scientists like those in the movie Jurassic Park, mosquitos do actually date to the Jurassic period. This makes them about 210 MILLION years old, though the individual female mosquito lives for about 2 months. If we find a 210,000,000 year old mosquito, we will DEFINITELY let everyone know! Over that time they have needed to evolve, and evolve they have. But that doesn’t make them invincible. We just need to be well informed when it comes to defending ourselves and our families from them.
Mosquitos don’t fly very far, and actually can’t fly very fast. In most cases they often stay within several hundred feet of where they were hatched, and they generally fly below 25 feet, with an average speed of 1.5 miles per hour. This is why they can cause such a nuisance during the best times of year to be outdoors. Their primary place of residence tends to be where we like to enjoy ourselves, in our backyards, or at the park, when we’re camping, generally anytime we are outside. Of course, if you find yourself in the Himalayas, beware! Some species have been found above an elevation of 8,000 feet. While Texas has the highest number of mosquito species (85!), we don’t run into them at high elevations…because Texas doesn’t seem to have any mountains.
In our part of the country, San Antonio, TX, the locals always get excited when spring rolls around because that’s when we get the bulk of our rain. But here’s the thing, the exact start of mosquito season depends on both rainfall and temperature. Mosquitos that hibernate need warm weather to get moving, while those that spend winter as eggs need rainfall to flood the eggs and make them hatch, as they also spend the first 10 days of their lives in water. Within a couple of months of the first rain, we start to see news reports like this one:
So aside from being an annoyance, what is it about mosquitos that we should know but might not? Consider these facts:
- • The bumps from mosquito bites are caused by saliva. One tube in their proboscis (a frightening word in its own right!) draws blood while a second tube pumps in saliva containing a mild painkiller and an anti-coagulant. That’s right, this insect is part anesthesiologist! In a world where most of us carry a personal supply of Purell, this is particularly disturbing.
- • Malaria is caused by a parasite that lives in mosquitos. Once again, passed to us through the saliva.
- • Did someone mention West Nile? Here comes the mosquito saliva again…and West Nile arrived in the US in 1999 with an epidemic in New York. Over the last 3 years, Texas and California have traded the #1 position for most cases of West Nile in the US.
- • Mosquitoes are considered the deadliest “animal” in the world. The Anopheles mosquito, in particular, is dangerous because it transmits malaria, which kills more than one million people every year, primarily in Africa. Alexander the Great is believed to have died of malaria in 323 B.C.
- • Only female mosquitos bite people…and they can lay 300 eggs at a time. They appear to be the ultimate working mothers.
- • We’re going to leave you with this last thought, a mosquito can drink up to three times its weight in blood…but it would take 1.2 million bites to fully drain the average person.
There are many different factors that go into what makes someone attractive to a mosquito. Now that we’ve taught you about them, come back next time to find out how you would do on the mosquito version of eHarmony!
For more information on mosquitos and protecting your home, family and property, give Mosquito Nix a call at 210-699-7700.