In 1897, Sir Ronald Ross’s discovered that Anopheles mosquitoes transmit the malaria parasite to humans. To commemorate this discovery and raise awareness and alertness regarding the diseases caused by mosquitoes World Mosquito Day is observed on 20 August, every year, globally.
Mosquito, originates from a Spanish word meaning “little fly”. Basically, mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, similar to bees. Generally, we believe that mosquitoes bite humans because they need to feed on human blood, but this is not true. Actually, female mosquitoes suck blood in order to help with the development of their eggs prior to laying them. Male mosquitoes do not feed on blood at all.
Although at times mosquitoes are dangerous because of their ability to carry and transmit diseases. But we can’t deny the fact that mosquitoes also play an important role in the ecosystem because they serve as a food source for many organisms.
Though very small in size, mosquitoes are perhaps the only predator that has thrived through the centuries, causing death through vector-borne diseases. In fact, it is counted among the world’s deadliest, killing millions each year.
Apart from people dying of malaria, there are nearly 219 million people who are affected by the same worldwide each year, as per recent statistics. Also, malaria is present in more than 100 countries, they mostly affect tropical locations and areas around the world.
Among the many nations, India has become a favourable breeding place for many mosquito species making it the hotspot for diseases like dengue, yellow fever, malaria, and others.
Some interesting facts about Mosquito;
- Mosquitoes are known from as far back as the Triassic Period – 400 million years ago.
- They are known from North America from the Cretaceous – 100 million years ago.
- There are about 2,700 species of mosquito. There are 176 species in the United States.
- The average mosquito weighs about 2.5 milligrams.
- The average mosquito takes in about 5-millionths of a litre of blood during feeding.
- Mosquitoes find hosts by sight (they observe movement); by detecting infra-red radiation emitted by warm bodies; and by chemical signals (mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and lactic acid, among other chemicals) at distances of 25 to 35 meters.
- Mosquitoes fly an estimated 1 to 1.5 miles per hour.
- Salt marsh mosquitoes can migrate up to 40 miles for a meal.
- Bigger people are often more attractive to mosquitoes because they are larger targets and they produce more mosquito attractants, namely CO2 and lactic acid.
- Active or fidgety people also produce more CO2 and lactic acid.
- Smelly feet are attractive to certain species of mosquitoes – as is Limburger Cheese.
- Dark clothing has been shown to attract some species of mosquitoes more than lighter coloured clothing.
- Movement increased mosquito biting up to 50% in some research tests.