One of the most frequent threats of the summer season is mosquitoes . This little invertebrate being is present in practically any of those places usually frequented by anyone in the middle of summer (terraces, beaches, beach bars, swimming pools, rivers, swamps). There are countless erroneous myths around mosquitoes that we detail below.
- Only female mosquitoes bite. True.
Males don’t bite because they feed on nectar. However, females need blood not only as food but to produce eggs . Both male and female mosquitoes can live without biting, but a female will not lay eggs if she cannot find the vertebrate to suck the blood from. The reason, a diet of nectar can endow it with energy, but it hardly provides proteins (amino acids) as well as other substances necessary to carry out oogenesis, which is how egg production is known.
- Do they itch according to the sweetness of the affected person’s blood? False.
The key is in the chemical composition of the air around us. Mosquitoes locate and bite their victims from the carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaled by the victim. The CO2 present in the exhaled air (about 1 kilo a day) is the most important sensory signal for female blood-sucking mosquitoes. This causes the female mosquito to activate the long distance flight towards its victim. An additional curiosity, mosquitoes flutter between 250 and 500 turns per second, so they need a lot of energy to be able to fly.
3. Our diet and physical exercise influence us being bitten . True .
Those who eat a diet high in fat generate more carbon dioxide, making them the perfect target for stings. In addition, those who play sports are more exposed to bites because when exercising, their muscles need more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide.
- They are attracted to strong smells. True.
They are attracted to strong smells and floral fragrances. For this reason it is recommended to avoid strong perfumes and fragrances during this time of year.
- They love sweat. True.
Sweat causes the skin to emit certain substances such as lactic acid, uric acid or ammonia . When looking for a victim to suck the blood from, female mosquitoes keep track of human sweat, more specifically the volatile acidic molecules that transpire through the skin (lactic acid). According to a recent study by American biologists, mosquitoes have an olfactory coreceptor called lr8a, located on their antennae that serves as a compass helping the female mosquito to locate those victims most prone to bites.
- They prefer people with a high basal temperature and those with a blood group of 0. True.
Each person has more than 300 chemical compounds that vary from person to person depending on their genetics and environment. The temperature of the skin, the presence of water vapor, the blood type of the victim (they prefer to bite people with blood group 0 ahead of those of blood group B and A) and the heat of clothing are some of the variables that mosquitoes take into account to bite their victims. So people with a greater diversity of microbes on their skin tend to experience fewer mosquito bites.
- Garments in white, light, bright or pastel shades are especially striking. True.
In addition to smell, female mosquitoes locate their victims from a distance using vision . Hence, it is recommended to bet on dark colored garments. It is also advisable to shake the clothes that have been hung outside before using them.
- Bite Remedies, Do They Really Work? It depends.
It is often said that applying toothpaste on the sting brings freshness and alleviates its symptoms or that the mud absorbs the venom of the sting. The reality is that none of these remedies is scientifically proven. On the contrary, applying toothpaste can produce greater irritation in the area due to its composition and, on the other hand, it is not advisable to apply mud or clay due to the bacteria present in them.