Mosquito: The World’s Deadliest Animal
No doubt about it: Mosquitoes are probably the most annoying and most-hated species on the planet. Their buzzing sound and the horrible bites; the swell and itch are like a real plague for humans.
Why do mosquito bites itch?
Female mosquitoes suck blood because they’re in need of a certain protein from the blood that produces eggs.
When they land on your skin, they first apply some saliva to the spot which temporarily numbs the skin so that you won’t notice and interrupt the biting process.
The mosquito then drills certain parts of its proboscis (its mouth) into your skin – where it then looks for blood vessels.
When it has found one, it sucks out blood – and at the same time, injects some of his saliva into your body.
A mosquito’s saliva is an anticoagulant, which means that it stops the blood from clotting, so that the mosquito can keep drinking. Our body reacts allergic to this.
Our immune system is being triggered, and Histamine is being sent to the area of the bite. Histamine is what causes the inflammation, the swelling and the itchiness.
The purpose of histamine is to widen the capillaries so that more white blood cells can pass through and fight the invader, in this case the saliva.
With their saliva, mosquitos sadly often inject chemicals that cause diseases as well. The mosquito is actually the deadliest animal in the world, it’s related to diseases like Malaria, the Zica Virus, Yellow Fever, West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever and many more. Mosquitoes are the cause of over 100 Million deaths every year. (Only human deaths! Of course, animals get bitten and killed too!)
Why do they prefer certain people?
There are many different aspects to why mosquitoes favor biting certain people.
They all have to do with the smells we emit – if someone is an O-blood type, has a high body temperature, has high cholesterol levels, has been drinking beer or foods with certain fatty acids, they smell more delicious to a mosquito. Genetics can also be a factor. But the most important reason that mosquitoes are attracted to us is that we exhale Carbon-dioxide. And some people just naturally produce more Carbon-dioxide than others – for many different reasons like obesity, genetics, et.c.
How to treat a mosquito bite?
Well, the most important thing is that you DO NOT SCRATCH.
I know how hard it is, I know how tempting it is, but please do your best and avoid scratching as much as possible, because it will only make things worse. A lot worse.
Your body just wants to destroy the mosquito’s saliva, but if you scratch the skin the area gets even more irritated, and your body reacts by sending even more histamine to the spot – which makes it swell and itch even more.
It’s a vicious cycle.
So right after you notice the bite, you should wash the skin with antibacterial soap, which will reduce the chances of an infection.
After that, place an ice pack or a few ice cubes wrapped inside a cloth directly on the bite. The cooling will relieve the itchiness, reduce the redness and the swelling as well. After that, you can put on some cream or lotion that has been specifically designed for this purpose, or make your own by mixing 3/4 baking soda with 1/4 water and letting the paste dry on your skin. If nothing else helps, you can also try some anti-histamine medication.
Why don’t we just kill ALL the mosquitoes ?!
After all these negative effects, it seems like a pretty easy solution to get rid of mosquitoes all together. But first of all, there are over 3,000 different kinds of mosquitoes – and only a few hundred of them even bite humans. Also, mosquitoes have been around for over 100 million years so much longer than humans – they have survived some very hard times and wouldn’t be that easy to kill. Additionally, effective pesticides like DDT have negative effects on plants, the planet, and everything falls back on us.
But what would happen in a scenario where we did kill them all?
This is where the opinions of many scientists differ. Some say that it would actually be alright, because another species would simply take their place in the ecosystem. (We just don’t know if that other species would be better or worse for us than mosquitoes). Others say that every animal plays an important role in the ecosystem, so removing them entirely could have a lot of negative effects. Mosquitoes are a source of food for a lot of birds, fish, and even plants, so many animals would actually suffer from their extinction.
So currently, scientists are working on ways to kill only the species that carry deadly diseases like Malaria – or genetically modify them, so that they either can’t carry the disease anymore, or die before they can infect humans with it.