The most frequent questions about mosquitoes

Mosquito control is a complex process. It requires both personal and collective effort. For more information on the control of mosquitoes read the following articles:

Intergrated management of arthropods of public health importance
Controlling the Asian tiger mosquito

The presence of stagnant water is a prerequisite for the occurrence of mosquitoes in an area. For more information, see the section “General Information” (“Learning about mosquitoes”).
A mosquito is capable of transmitting diseases when it bites, if it has previously received pathogens. Pathogens that can be transmitted by mosquitoes are received from hosts with the blood meal and then transferred to new hosts through the mosquito’s saliva.
Not all mosquito species (approximately 3,500 species worldwide) transmit the same diseases.
For instance, some species of the genus Anopheles are responsible for transmitting malaria, mosquito species of the genus Culex transmit the West Nile Virus and some species of the genus Aedes are responsible for transmitting Dengue fever.
For more information about the mosquito species recorded in the Athens Basin and the diseases that they can transmit, see the section “Mosquito Diseases”.
Female mosquito can suck about 5 mg (0,005 gr) of blood. In 90 seconds it gets an amount of blood equal to 2.3 times its weight.
First, mosquitoes detect us through their vision (they observe movement) and then detect any difference in temperature due to infrared radiation emitted by our body. Mosquitoes can also detect several chemicals, the most important of which is carbon dioxide. They can also spot us during our physical work due to lactic acid produced by our muscles.
Mosquitoes can spot us 25-35 meters away from us.

For more details, please read the article “Mosquito- A perfect machine”

Only female mosquitoes bite. Female mosquitoes bite several animals, such as mammals, birds or even reptiles. Depending on the mosquito species, there some preferences regarding which “victim” to choose. There are anthropophilic mosquitoes (preferring humans), ornithophilic (preferring birds), but there are also mosquito species that prefer to suck blood both from birds and humans.
Mosquitoes, like all insects, need energy to perform their activities (e.g. flying, mating, etc.), which they receive from the nectar of flowers, insect-extracted honeydew (e.g. by aphids) and mature fruits. Only female mosquitoes need blood as a source of proteins for the production of their eggs.
The speed of mosquitoes, when they fly, can range between 1.5 and 2.5 km per hour. The distance that mosquitoes can cover depends on the species. For example, there are mosquitoes that fly up to 300 – 500 meters (e.g. Asian tiger mosquito) and others that can fly up to 30 km away from their breeding sites (Ochlerotatus caspius).
The lifespan of adult mosquitoes usually depends on several factors, such as the temperature, humidity, the sex of the mosquito and the time of year. Males live about a week whereas females live longer, but the lifespan can be up to one month depending on the above factors.
It is worth mentioning that there are about 3,500 mosquito species worldwide and about 60 mosquito species have been recorded in Greece.
It depends on the mosquito species and the consumption of food at the larval stage. For instance, a mosquito weighs 2.5 mg (0.0025 gr) on average. Its size can range from 0.3 up to approximately 1 centimeter.
Mosquitoes appeared during the Triassic period, i.e. at least 200 million years ago. A recent finding of a fossilized mosquito aged about 46 million years (Eocene Period) showed that that insect had received a blood meal.
Although there are some studies supporting that pregnant women are more attractive to mosquitoes, there is no clear answer over the preference of mosquitoes to bite men or women, when both sexes are compared. As it was previously mentioned, body odors, eating habits and the way of dressing ourselves may make us “blood donors” to mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are attracted by the clothes we wear and particularly by the color of clothes. White attracts them less; by contrast, dark colors (e.g. blue, red and black) attract them more. For instance, the way women dress themselves can theoretically increase the number of bites by mosquitoes, since women usually do not cover some parts of their body.
Mosquitoes can locate us due to body odors, the emitted body heat and most of all due to the produced carbon dioxide. Therefore, the more fat we are the more carbon dioxide and heat we produce, resulting in attracting mosquitoes. An obese person or a pregnant woman, who emit more heat and exhale more carbon dioxide, can attract more mosquitoes.
Any exercise or activity that increases the production of carbon dioxide and that of other substances (e.g. sweat and lactic acid) favors the attraction of mosquitoes. Thus, a person may attract more mosquitoes during a body exercise.
Drinking beer can lead to attracting more mosquitoes according to a study conducted by researchers from France, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Canada.
Japanese researchers supported that Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) does not show the same preference to bite individuals of different blood types. Mosquitoes of this species prefer to bite people belonging to blood type “O” to people of other blood types (B, AB and A).
The proboscis of mosquitoes is not just a needle as everyone thinks. Watch the related video demonstrating that “… in fact, this a very complicated microsurgical tool placed in the body of mosquitoes that can perform microsurgeries in a telescopic way.”
No insect species has been recorded to transmit AIDS. The reasons for this are listed below:

a)The infectious agents must be kept alive inside mosquitoes in order to be transferred to the host and cause a disease. When a female mosquito gets a blood meal, digestion starts immediately. The infectious agents must “get away” from the digestive enzymes of mosquitoes in order to pass on to the next host.

Studies into this issue have demonstrated that HIV is consumed as food by mosquitoes, thus its proliferation in the tissues of mosquitoes is impossible.

b)HIV cannot be transmitted mechanically. We all know that HIV can be transmitted with contaminated needles. It should be noted that mosquitoes are not like “flying syringes” and therefore cannot transmit the virus due to the small amount of blood in the mosquito’s proboscis.

Editing: Dr Antonios Michaelakis