• Salina Janzan

Know your enemy.

One of our lecturers* enjoys reiterating the importance of "Know your species!" and more specifically: "Know your enemy!" (in a very Mad-Eye "CONSTANT VIGILANCE" kind of way).

I have found my enemy here in Mauritius, and they have certainly found me. Mosquitoes.

To the effect of "knowing my enemy" I did a little research recently. Sadly, no, I have not found a way to eradicate them from the earth or a magical way to stop them biting me other than copious amounts of DEET and mosquito coils. However I did find some interesting facts in relation to my questions (which were mostly expanded from: 'Why have you bitten my left butt cheek 45 times!!?! WHY!!' I dare you not to share my rage if this ever happens to you):

  • Both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar and plant juices (when they can't get field workers), but in many species the mouth-parts of the females are also adapted for piercing the skin of animal hosts and sucking their blood

  • Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. Females will lay eggs up to three times before they die. I'm no maths genius, but that is a little (see also: very) over-productive if you ask me.

  • Males have the shortest lives, usually 10 days or less, and females can live about six to eight weeks, under ideal conditions.

  • The feeding preferences of mosquitoes apparently include those with type O blood, heavy breathers, those with a lot of skin bacteria, people with a lot of body heat, and the pregnant.

  • There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes.

  • Prior to and during blood feeding, blood-sucking mosquitoes inject saliva into the bodies of their source(s) of blood. This saliva serves as an anticoagulant; without it one might expect the female mosquito's proboscis to become clogged with blood clots.

  • There are both immediate hypersensitivity reactions and delayed hypersensitivity reactions to mosquito bites. Unfortunately, both reactions result in itching, redness and swelling. Immediate reactions develop within a few minutes of the bite and last for a few hours. Delayed reactions take around a day to develop, and last for up to a week.

  • Dark clothing attracts mosquitoes. Remember, they are drawn to heat and darker clothes retain more heat than light-coloured clothing. This explains a lot as to how many times my legs have been bitten... thank you black leggings.

  • There are some measures being taken to control mosquitoes - complete eradication is impossible - depending on the situation this is done through methods such as habitat modification, pesticide, biological-control agents, and trapping. (Clearly this is not being done here...)

And this my friends, is what the devil looks like:

Image credit:

*The lecturer I refer to is Professor Carl Jones who is pretty awesome to say the least. Check him out on Wikipedia.

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