Guess what besides fat raindrops, rain clouds in Mumbai bring? Those tiny terrors, mosquitoes. Result: nights spent tossing and turning, and swatting the insects. But the next morning you wake up with those tell tale red marks on your arms, pause to think if you took a bath or not the previous night.

That’s right. Human sweat turns mosquitoes on more than anything else. Research carried out by scientists in The Netherlands say that mosquitoes are actually quite finicky about whom they sting and never ever nibble at random. They find sweaty people absolutely irresistible however and the more stale the sweat the better. Yuck!

Apparently the mosquitoes are attracted by a particular bacterium in human perspiration. However, scientists are yet to identify the bacteria. Once they manage to target the specific chemical, you can be sure they will find an antidote for it, that will help them create a mosquito repellent that works!

But it’s not as if all mosquitoes are thirsty for human blood. Some prefer biting birds and nipping flower buds. Even among the species of mosquitoes that do bite us, only the female mosquitoes do the nibbling.

Do you know why this is so? Well, they are looking for something called isoleucine (pronounced: iso-lu-seen)- an acid found in our blood. This acid helps female mosquito to lay eggs and she often ends up sucking up to four times her weight in blood.

Mosquito Menace
Mosquito Menace

Sounds awful? Wait, there’s more. In the process of guzzling blood the female mosquito also injects us with her saliva. This saliva acts as an irritant and causes the bite to itch like crazy. Along with the saliva, many mosquito species also inject infectious microorganisms and transmit diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue.

A female mosquito’s mouthpart is enlarged and well adapted for piercing the skin of mammals (like us) and sucking blood. Their male counterparts on the other hand do not have a complicated mouth structure and are perfectly happy sipping nectar and water.

Among mosquitoes too, the female of the species is clearly deadlier than the male.

There are approximately 2000 species of mosquitoes worldwide. These insects can be found everywhere- from the Arctic Circle to the Equator; from the lush tropical Amazonian forests to the icy Tundra. What this basically means is that there’s no escape from mosquitoes anywhere. Just pray there are more males than females in your neighbourhood.

403 words | 4 minutes
Readability: Grade 8 (13-14 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: planet earth
Tags: #scientists, #mosquito, #mosquitoes, #insects, #sweat

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