We endure them every year. When the weather warms and outside activities get underway, we sometimes find them descending upon us like a plague. We’re talking about mosquitoes, of course, and the reasons why mosquitoes bite.
The nasty little bloodsuckers that, at times, can absolutely make life miserable. The perpetually pesky critters that can run roughshod over outdoor activities.
The tiny tyrants that can drive us from our own backyards as effectively as a pack of hounds treeing a raccoon.
But have you wondered why those needle-nosed tormentors just have to have your blood? For the mosquito’s offspring, that is.
You see, every mosquito that bites you is a mother-to-be. In fact, you’ve never been bitten by a male mosquito. Male mosquitoes are strictly vegetarian; they aren’t interested in your blood.
But all of the millions of female mosquitoes that have bitten you in your lifetime have needed your blood for a very good cause. From their perspective, anyway. Without blood, they cannot develop the eggs that will launch the next generation of mosquitoes.
Specifically, they need an amino acid (protein) that is present in the blood.
During her lifetime, each female mosquito will lay several batches of eggs. And for each new batch of eggs, the mosquito needs one good fill-up of blood.
But, for her own nutritional needs, she eats the same nectar and plant juices that the male mosquito eats. The female mosquito uses your blood only to nourish her eggs.
Why The Itch?
The female mosquito needs your blood to be able to give birth to her offspring.
But why does it have to itch? Why does the mosquito have to leave a welt that drives you nuts with the constant, incessant itching?
It’s simply a matter of pure practicality: when the female mosquito bites you, she’s not really biting. It’s more like sticking you with a hypodermic needle. And, when the mosquito sticks you, she’s taking a considerable risk.
That is because your most likely reaction when you feel the unauthorized injection is to slap and squash the mosquito flat.
But nature has endowed the mosquito with saliva that has a bit of an anesthetic effect. As the mosquito sticks you with her proboscis, she also pumps in some saliva, which helps – at least a little – to reduce the likelihood that you’ll feel what’s happening.
And it’s the reaction of your body to the mosquito’s saliva that causes the itching and the welt.
So now you know the truth about why mosquitoes are always making unauthorized withdrawals against your blood bank.
But knowing why they want your blood – knowing that it’s just a mother trying to provide for her young; knowing that it’s one of nature’s creatures simply trying to perpetuate the species; knowing that they aren’t mini-Draculas bent on evil – are you going to be a bit more understanding next time a mosquito alights upon your skin?
Remember, some mosquitoes are disease-carrying vectors, and it is never wise to have them around, especially with children.