What would you say is the most deadliest animal on Earth? Sharks? Snakes? Humans?
Of course the answer depends on how you define deadliest but if you’re judging by how many people are killed by an animal every year, then the answer isn’t any of the above. It’s mosquitoes.
When it comes to killing humans, no other animal even comes close. Take a look:
Yes, that's right - these pesky little things that have been around for 210 million years, carry devastating diseases like malaria which kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Other mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis.
There are more than 2,500 species of mosquito, and mosquitoes are found in every region of the world except Antarctica.
Facts About The Mozzie
Mosquitoes can smell human breath. They have receptors on their antennae that detect the carbon dioxide released when we exhale. Those plumes of CO2 rise into the air, acting as trails that the mosquitoes follow to find the source.
Sweat helps mosquitoes choose their victims. Our skin produces more than 340 chemical odours, and some of them smell like dinner to mosquitoes. They are fond of octenol, a chemical released in sweat, as well as cholesterol, folic acid, certain bacteria, skin lotions, and perfume.
Body heat marks the target. Mosquitoes use heat sensors around their mouthparts to detect the warmth of your body – actually, the blood inside it – then land on you and locate the best capillaries for tapping.
Dark clothing attracts mosquitoes. Remember, they are drawn to heat and darker clothes retain more heat than light-coloured clothing.
Mosquitoes feed day and night. Some species, like the Aedes are daytime biters, while others, like Culex, start biting at dusk and continue a few hours into dark.
Only female mosquitoes bite. Both male and female feed mainly on fruit and plant nectar, but the female also needs the protein in blood to help her eggs develop. Once she's had her fill of blood, she'll rest for a couple of days before laying her eggs.
The average mosquito lifespan is less than two months. Males have the shortest lives, usually 10 days or less, and females can live about six to eight weeks, under ideal conditions. The females lay eggs about every three days during that time. Females of species that hibernate may live up to six months.
Some scientists think that eliminating mosquitoes wouldn't be such a bad thing. Others aren’t so sure, though, and worry about the effects on the ecosystem of the loss of an insect that is eaten by spiders, salamanders, frogs, fish and dragonfly.
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