Welcome dear Steemians to another episode of Myth or Fact! Consider the following scenario (actually happened quite often to me):
You lie in bed trying to fall asleep while letting your mind wander. At about the time you was drifting off to sleep there was this horrible noise. Your eyes went wide and you are alarmed: mosquitoes!
The humming is such an annoying sound that you jump out of bed to turn on the light and prepare for hunt.
Sounds like horror, no? Then again I have friends who say they never get bitten and we try to find out why. The only reason we found out is that mosquitoes prefer people with sweet blood. Am I sweet? Is this the reason?
The real vampires
Fig.1: Female mosquito Source
There are over 3500 different mosquito species (culicidae) worldwide. They occur everywhere and are home on every place except the polar regions and deserts. After fertilization the females consume blood of their hosts to supply their eggs with nutrition. This is why male mosquito won’t bite you but females do.
To penetrate the host's skin they are equipped with specific mouthparts which consist of three main parts (upper lip/labrum, jaw/mandible and maxilla as well as the throat/hypopharynx) which are illustrated in the image below.
Fig.2: Mourtparts of (A) grasshopper (B) bee (C) butterfly(D) mosquito Source
The throat has two tubes of which one injects saliva and the other sucks blood. The video below shows how the mouthparts work under the skin of a mouse (in vivo). During the time the eggs are not fertilized the females feed themselves just like the males with plant sap.
Although they suck out blood you won't bleed out since it's only a tiny amount. However there are other dangers that come with mosquitoes. Depending on the previous host mosquitoes carry dangerous pathogens that can lead to malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, Zika and much more.
There are similar looking insects that however are not mosquitoes and don’t suck blood. For instance gnats (tipulidae). So if you see one of these don’t be afraid.
Fig.3: Similar to mosquiotes but are gnats Source
Why does the bite itch?
Unfortunately we didn’t find the vicious mosquito and woke up with itching bites. To disclose the myth: it is not how sweet your blood is, it is how you smell. Your smell and skin temperature is what mosquitoes do differentiate. They prefer smooth skin and sweat. How we smell is determined by our nutrition and genes. Women generally have a warmer skin than men (So better sleep next to a woman, they will then bite her).
The actual bite is not painful because their mouthparts are so tiny that they won’t always hit a nerve and secondly they inject a pain-relieving agent with their saliva. With the saliva come many other different substances (proteins) that our immune system doesn’t like. It releases histamine which leads to an allergic reaction. The result is a swelling, redness and itching.
By scratching the swelling you only spread the saliva and our body reacts by releasing even more histamine which makes the whole worse. The best you can do after you got bit is to cool the swelling which reduces the symptoms.
Thanks for taking time to read my article! Do you have a suggestions for the next Myth or Fact? Feel free to leave a comment.
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