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May 5, 2017

5 Things You May Not Know About Mosquito Bites

The Mosquito is the ultimate predator. It attacks from above, it is near silent when it attacks, and it can stalk, chase and ambush its prey. Mosquitoes have special adaptations that have been developed over generations to help them find their prey.

  1. Only the female feeds on blood. Their mouthparts are highly adapted to feed on blood. They resemble a flexible needle that is pierced into the skin to reach blood in capillaries below the skin surface. The sharp needle like stylets are housed in a sheath when they are not being used to protect them from damage. Male mosquitoes are nectar feeders only; they don’t feed on blood at all.
  2. Females use the blood meal they obtain for egg production. The female uses the proteins from your blood to produce eggs. Essentially, when you are bitten, you are feeding the next generation of mosquitoes!
  3. When a female mosquito feeds, she is injecting saliva into the skin at the same time. This saliva acts as an anesthetic so the host doesn’t know they are being bitten, improving the chances of the mosquito escaping unscathed. This is important also so the mosquito has time to locate a blood supply under the skin.
  4. The insect's saliva also is an anticoagulant so the blood doesn’t clog their syringe-like mouthparts, allowing the blood to flow freely. In addition to acting as an anticoagulant, mosquito saliva can slow down the process in which our blood vessels narrow. This allows the insect to feed longer and get complete blood meals.
  5. When you have a raised welt and itchy sensation after a mosquito bites you, you are having a mild allergic reaction to the saliva that has been injected into your skin. This allergic reaction is what we are seeing in the large, raised red, round, itchy bumps. An anti-histamine cream can work wonders relieving the itch.

Tag(s): Mosquitoes , CSI-Pest

Janis Reed, Ph.D., BCE

Director Product Development & Regulatory

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