Mosquitoes (or melgas, as they are sometimes known) are small flying insects with long legs. Worldwide, there are more than 3,200 known species, all with a similar life cycle: egg, larva, nymph (or pupa) and adult. Females lay eggs (up to 300 eggs at a time) anywhere water has been stagnant for at least a week. There the larvae are born and grow.
Some mosquito species live only seven days, while others can live up to a month. But let's get down to business: what attracts mosquitoes? What should we do when we are stung? And, more importantly, why do mosquitoes only bite some people?
Mosquitoes feed by sucking liquids such as nectar, sap, or, in the case of female mosquitoes, blood. Females don't need blood to survive, but they do need supplemental substances like protein and iron to be able to lay eggs. Therefore, mosquitoes look for animals and humans that they can bite to extract the substances they need. But how do you find them?
Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide (CO2) that we exhale with each breath, which explains why we feel them hovering near our face and ears. Not only do mosquitoes seek out carbon dioxide, they also have receptors that help them recognize temperature, perspiration and body odor to find food.
Why do mosquitoes only bite some people?
There are several reasons why mosquitoes choose some people and not others.
1. Carbon dioxide attracts mosquitoes.
The more carbon dioxide we expel in the process of breathing, the more attractive we are to mosquitoes. In this sense, adults are more likely to be bitten, as well as pregnant women.
2. Mosquitoes prefer blood type O.
This argument is not fully supported by the scientific community, but some studies seem to indicate that the O blood type is more attractive to mosquitoes than all others. This would help explain why mosquitoes bite some people and not others, and while it's not scientifically proven, there's a lot of research to be done on the relationship between blood type and mosquito bites.
3. Mosquitoes seek out our perspiration and lactic acid production.
The production of lactic acid is a natural consequence of metabolism during intense efforts. In simple terms, lactic acid is our body's way of processing glucose during high-intensity exertion and is released in sweat. Both body odor and lactic acid are elements that attract mosquitoes, so someone who does more physical activity or sweats more will be more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes.
4. Mosquitoes and mosquitoes prefer dark colors.
Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, which means that the clothing we wear makes a difference in how likely we are to be bitten.
What to do in case of mosquito bite?
In most cases, especially in Portugal where we don't find many species of dangerous mosquitoes, mosquito bites cause local irritation with redness, swelling, itching, increased temperature and sometimes pain. But they are easily treatable at home. It is important to wash a mosquito bite with cold water and avoid scratching the irritated area. The cold will help to reduce the swelling and relieve the itching sensation, but you can also put ice on it to speed up the process. Then apply a soothing ointment or lotion to relieve the bite allergy.
How to avoid insect bites?
As we have already seen, mosquitoes and mosquitoes prefer to bite certain people based on a set of criteria that are difficult to control. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid getting bitten.
- Use insect repellents or mosquito repellents
- Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Close doors and windows at night
- Avoid watering the garden and plants excessively to prevent flooding
- If you have a pool, clean it frequently and with the indicated amount of chlorine
- Removes water in gutters after heavy rains
- Keeps food and drinks closed or covered
- Covers the body with clothing that protects the arms and legs
Sometimes, especially in summer, we notice an invasion of mosquitoes that becomes difficult to control even with repellent. Find out what to do when you have a mosquito plague .