That Really Bites: Everything You Wanted to Know About Mosquitoes But Were Afraid to Ask

Get Ready to Itch:: It's almost always just the female of the species of mosquito that bites you on these hot summer days. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Get Ready to Itch:: It's almost always just the female of the species of mosquito that bites you on these hot summer days. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture)

It’s been mighty hot and dry in Minnesota this summer. And feeling the pinch, much to most people’s delight, are moquitoes.

The dry conditions have put a squeeze on breeding grounds for the little buggers. So while their numbers are down for now, here’s some information that you can use to prepare for their inevitable return.

Did you know….

* In most species of moquitoes, it’s the female that does the biting. Female mosquitoes need proteins they can find in blood to develop the eggs that they’re going to deposit in damp areas to hatch into future mosquitoes.

* That long needle they use to poke your skin isn’t smooth and sharp like a syringe. Instead, it’s got a lot of serration, like a steak knife. Those extra points help spread around the poking sensation when a mosquito bites, and keeping your body’s nerves from detecting something is poking into you.

* How does a moquito know to bite you? Primarily through their sense of smell. They have a highly developed sense for finding carbon dioxide of exhaled breath. They also like the aroma of several chemicals found in human sweat.

* Why does a mosquito bite often itch? It’s actually nothing that the mosquito puts into you. Rather, the bite area can become inflamed and itchy within 24 hours of the bite due to reactions to the bite from our body’s immune system and antibodies. The older you get, it is possible to become desensitized to the impact mosquito bites have on you. Conversely, little children my have stronger reactions to bites than adults.

* How can you best keep mosquitos away from you? One of the most effective repellents is a fan. Mosquitoes don’t like moving air and you can keep them at bay with a gentle breeze.

* Among the spray-on repellents, the most effective ones include at least one of the following ingredients: DEET, catnip oil extract, nepetalactone, citronella or eucalyptus oil extract.

* There is debate over the concept of using vitamins to keep away the pests. In know of people who go on trips to the Boundry Waters Canoe Area who swear that beefing up their B1 intake for a week before the trip helps keep away mosquitoes while they’re there. But there’s no credible scientific information backing up those assertations.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

The Weather Channel webpage offers a "mosquito activity forecast" as well as local weather. And look out: mosquito activity in the museum's zip code (55102) is forecast to be HIGH!

posted on Thu, 07/20/2006 - 4:42pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Ever heard the whining of a mosquito when you are trying to sleep in your tent? That whine makes me slap-happy, but I just learned that it can put a mosquito in the mood for love. Read about how mosquitoes tune thier whine to the right notes to mate in mid-air.

posted on Sun, 07/23/2006 - 1:39pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Mosquitoes kill more than 2 million humans every year. Guess what animal takes second place in killing off human beings? Humans! We kill off more than a million of our own kind every year.

posted on Sun, 07/23/2006 - 2:34pm
zino rai's picture
zino rai says:

mosquitoes are attracted to blue colour, is that right?

posted on Thu, 06/06/2013 - 9:25am
Sonya Fleming's picture
Sonya Fleming says:

How do bees make honey and why?

posted on Sun, 07/23/2006 - 2:37pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

This question is not really related to the mosquito. I put your question in the "search" box at the top of this page and got your answer on this page.

Honey is nectar that bees collect from flowers. The bees add an enzyme to the nectar to break down the sugars, and they evaporate water from the nectar. When the water content is less than 18.6%, and it is stored in honey combs, it is honey.
-Marla Spivak

The honey is stored food which they can eat during the winter.

posted on Sun, 07/23/2006 - 2:57pm
Rebekah's picture
Rebekah says:

Is it bad to smack a mosquito when it is in mid-bite? Or is it better to let it finish biting?

posted on Sun, 06/29/2008 - 2:27am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

let it finish sucking.

posted on Sun, 06/29/2008 - 2:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

if its a tick, you will want to pull it out carfully. but I dont know about mosqitos.

posted on Sun, 06/29/2008 - 1:08pm
Rick's picture
Rick says:

I think the sooner you swat the better, as the longer it bites the more poison it injects.


posted on Sun, 06/29/2008 - 1:30pm
Jenn's picture
Jenn says:

Let it finish biting...I had one bite me today, I let it finish, and there is no bump, no itching

posted on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 6:46pm
tyashila sutton C.S.A.L student 7th grade's picture
tyashila sutton C.S.A.L student 7th grade says:

do they inject something into your skin if so what is it can u die 4m mosctaoe bites

posted on Thu, 08/28/2008 - 9:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Can a Mosquito hear sound at all and if so can you go into detail?

posted on Wed, 09/10/2008 - 7:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

is there such thing as like electricuting mosiquitos becuz there ones that keeps stiinging me inside my housse and it wont go AWAY!!!!!!

posted on Sat, 03/20/2010 - 5:01am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i dont think that mosquitos can be electrifying but maby they can shock you with statick electricity

posted on Sat, 03/20/2010 - 2:43pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

I think bug zappers attract mosquitoes with light and zap them with high voltage sparks.

posted on Sat, 03/20/2010 - 5:52pm
Unknown's picture
Unknown says:

I think that the sooner you swat a mosquito the better because the longer you wait the bigger the bump.

posted on Sun, 03/21/2010 - 3:07pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

What is the farthest away a person can typically hear a mosquito? My husband swears people can only hear them when they are inches away from your face, but I know I can hear them a few feet away from me when all is still and quiet at bedtime. I know I'm not crazy but my husband is beginning to think I am because I hear them and he doesn't - the worst part is that I don't always see them when I do hear them sometimes!! HELP!!!

posted on Fri, 04/02/2010 - 7:48am
profase's picture
profase says:

You're not crazy. Your husband just has damage to his ears most likely. It happens with age. The older you get, the lower the frequency range of sound you can hear. Mosquitos buzz at a higher frequency than most adults can hear.

posted on Thu, 06/13/2013 - 1:39am
Science Museum of Minnesota GUEST's picture
Science Museum of Minnesota GUEST says:

Do mosquitos in Minnesota give any harmful diseases? Thank you!

posted on Sat, 06/08/2013 - 4:21pm
bekxy's picture
bekxy says:

Ewwwwww So glad i'm not bitten.

posted on Mon, 06/10/2013 - 6:57pm
willow's picture
willow says:

at least we have bug zappers!

posted on Thu, 06/13/2013 - 12:42pm
Sarai's picture
Sarai says:

My mosquito bíte got infected good thing i know about it.

posted on Fri, 06/14/2013 - 10:32pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options