The next twenty years should bring fantastic advances in bioengineering. We’ll be able to manipulate both our genes and the genes of the species we interact with in ways we can’t begin to imagine. One of the first big bioengineering projects, of course, will be designing a virus that quickly infects every mosquito alive, causing them to die slow, miserable deaths (while leaving other species in perfect health), effectively eradicating every mosquito from the face of the Earth.
Mosquitoes don’t serve much of an ecological purpose, and we’re far from the only species that despises them. Many scientists agree that, unlike bees, completely wiping out mosquitoes wouldn’t have serious consequences. But until that glorious day of reckoning comes, we’ll just have to keep dealing with them.
Mosquitoes are a type of fly, and thus go through the four fly life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. It’s only the female mosquitoes that take blood from hosts, which they use to make eggs. If you’re pregnant or blood type O, your sweat will be extra attractive to the sensitive smell of mosquitoes.
When mosquitoes bite you, they inject you with their saliva, which serves as an anticoagulant (so your blood runs smooth for them). Mosquito bites transmit diseases that infect 700 million people a year—maladies like yellow fever, dengue fever, malaria, and the West Nile virus. Apparently mosquitoes never read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.
The bump that forms after the bite is called a “wheal” and is actually an immune response: your histamines are trying to remove the mosquito proteins left in your skin.
Tactics we use to beat mosquitoes include destroying their breeding habitats (which usually include water), blocking them out with window screens and mosquito nets, introducing mosquito-predators like Dragonflies (yet another reason to love Dragonflies), and the use of insecticides.
Your best course of action this summer remains spraying some repellant on exposed body parts if you’re going to be outside for a while. If you get a bite, you can take Benadryl or apply topical antihistamines to help with the itching.
And, of course, if you have a mosquito infestation problem, give us a call. We’ll be their worst nightmare.