Everybody knows them and nobody likes them. Mosquitos are undesirable, constant company, especially in the summer months. Whether at the lake, in the home garden or while walking in the forest, mosquitos can spoil one or the other day outing. Especially because we have to deal with these small and annoying mosquitos so often we would like to give you some background information about the mosquitos. Together with our expert Dr. Burkhard Bauer, from the Institute for Parasitology and Tropical Veterinary Medicine in Berlin, we will also explain you in detail what happens in the human bodyexactly during a mosquito bite.
How many mosquito species do we have?
Whether high up in the mountains, in Thailand on the beach or at home in the garden. House mosquitos, bush mosquitos & Co. are everywhere. These different areas of life therefore also indicate a multitude of different mosquito species, which according to the American Mosquito Control Association currently amounts to a total of about 3500 mosquito species worldwide. Approximately 53 species are living in Germany, although no concrete statements can be made here. According to Dr. Burkhard Bauer, the number of species behaves dynamically, as new mosquito species are constantly spreading and establishing themselves in Germany from abroad due to globalisation. An example of this would be the Asian tiger mosquito, which originally comes from the Southeast Asian tropics and subtropics and has been able to spread worldwide for the last 30 years.
What characteristics do mosquitos have?
Mosquitos generally live between 2-3 weeks, whereby the lifespan can depend on factors such as season or environmental temperatures. In winter, mosquitos often seek sheltered places like basements and caves , where they fall into winter numbness in order to survive.
In general it can be determined that female mosquitos live longer than male ones. Apart from the lifespan there is another important difference: the food .
While female mosquitos are the ones who need blood to survive, male mosquitos feed on different flower juices.
Asian tiger mosquito
How can you protect yourself from mosquitos?
Heavy rainfall and warm temperatures are perfect conditions for mosquitos to live in and this can also lead to plagues in many places. But what can you do against these small insects? Since mosquitos love humidity , they lay their eggs in large quantities in small water places. As a preventive measure, containers such as rain barrels, buckets or bowls should be turned over so that no water can gather in them and thus also keep the mosquitos away.
In Germany there are already government measures , to prevent such plagues. The KABS, for example, a recognised association, is responsible for containing the mosquito plagues in the Upper Rhine area.
Why does a mosquito bite?
As mentioned above, the female mosquito feeds on human or animal blood to survive. The blood itself is very important because it is rich in proteins and other nutrients that it needs to produce and to grow . But how does a mosquito even notice us?
Expert Dr. Burkhard Bauer explains that the well-known statement "Mosquitos prefer sweet blood" is pure myth. They are attracted to certain chemical substances that our body excretes. CO2 or some short-chain alcohol compounds seem to be very appealing to the mosquito, attracting it. Another important factor our expert also considers is the body temperature of a person. If we do sports or other physical activities outside, our body temperature rises and we attract mosquitos almost magnetically.
Japanese researchers have also found out during a test that mosquitos tend to prefer people with blood group 0. The flying mosquitos are able to recognize the blood type via a chemical signal.
What happens during a mosquito bite?
To bite a human being, a mosquito uses its trunk which has a soft surface with serrations to draw out the blood as good as possible. Once the mosquito has finally penetrated the skin, the mosquito injects its saliva into the bite site and thus prevents the blood from clotting. The saliva contains anticoagulant proteins and the mosquito can therefore absorb the blood very easily and unnoticed, Dr. Burkhard Bauer tells us. The whole procedure can take several minutes , which is why mosquitos usually strike when our body is at rest . Unlike bees, mosquitos can bite frequently, as they do not lose their sting, while feeding from our blood.
Once the mosquito has finally managed to make its way to human blood, our body does not react immediately. After some time, however, the following symptoms can appear:
Although these symptoms are annoying, they are basically no health threat to us humans. Allergic reactions to mosquito bites can increase these symptoms and therefore a doctor should be consulted.
Especially in summer mosquito bites can drive us crazy. The constant itching and scratching is not only annoying, but can also become very painful. But how does the itch arise after a sting? The answer is quite simple. The itching after a mosquito bite is simply the reaction of the human body to the saliva of the mosquito, which it injected into the bite site during the process. The body releases histamine and tries to defend itself against it.