Mosquitoes are nasty. They bite, cause itching and bleeding, and carry all sort of obnoxious diseases. They’re also incredible survivors and only need a few inches of water and a reliable source of blood to cause havoc wherever they go. This writer was once bitten by a mosquito in the Sonoran Desert, more than five miles from the Colorado River, the nearest water source.
As a reluctant tribute to these tenacious monsters, July 23 is Mosquito Day which seeks to bring awareness to mosquitoes and how to make them go away. In that vein, here are 10 fun and interesting facts about the most annoying insects ever to wreck your summer—mosquitoes.
- Cult vampire flick “Near Dark” has a mosquito in its opening scene. Caleb Colton, who ultimately becomes a half-vampire and needs a blood transfusion to become human again, calls it a “dumb suck” as he squashes it bloodily.
- Mosquitoes go from egg to adult in five to 14 days. They then inflict from four to eight weeks of annoyance on animals and humans alike, depending on species.
- The itch from mosquito bites is caused by an anticoagulant injected by the mosquito. The most famous diseases that they carry are West Nile disease, dengue fever and malaria, all of which are very nasty. They also carry several types of encephalitis, yellow fever and Rift Valley fever. Those are all very nasty, too.
- “Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson created a cartoon where mosquitoes were telling their balloon-sized buddy to pull out because he’d hit an artery. There’s an unauthorized monument to it in Suwon City, Korea.
- The word “mosquito” means “little fly” in Spanish and Portuguese.
- During World War II, the Mosquito aircraft bombed, sent missiles and engaged in one-on-one air combat. These lightweight wooden airplanes were made from Ecuadorian balsa, Alaskan spruce, English ash, and Canadian birch and fir with Rolls-Royce engines.
- According to the CDC, methods such as taking vitamin B, using Skin-so-Soft and rubbing one’s skin with tumble drier sheets does not do anything to deter mosquitoes. Draining all standing water regularly, using mosquito nets, staying indoors at dusk or dawn, and wearing stinky DEET does.
- Mosquitoes hone in on a mixture of body heat and carbon dioxide from your breath. According to Pest World, they can fly up to 14 miles in search of lunch.
- Dragonfly larvae eat mosquitoes. Therefore, be nice to your dragonflies.
- Mosquitoes have been annoying people and animals since the Cretaceous period, some 79 million years ago. There are now more than 3,500 species.
Sources: Smithsonian Institution; PestWorld; Mosquito Aircraft; CDC
To get the latest Seasonal Trends updates, subscribe to this column here, or view it in your feed reader. Scroll down for more articles and to comment. Linda Gentile covers the circle of the year from the standpoint of its holidays, seasons and “times.”