Sunday, January 23, 2011

Flying dracula - the Mosquito!

Mosquitoes have been made villains to me. As young, I heard a musical ringing sound over my ear when I retired to bed. That sound quickly shifted to the other ear! It is produced by nobody but by our mighty mosquito flying around. Though its name in Tamil language, 'Kosu' is used also to mean an easier work or a small sized person, the mosquito still remains the strongest giving nuisance and causing diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Malaria. In 2006, when there was Chikungunya epidemic in India, the electric mosquito killing bat (zapper) was introduced to us by the increased population of these mosquitoes.

Life of this 'Terror' fly:
Mosquito lays hundreds of eggs at a time. The eggs develop into adults through the stages of larva and pupa, which are aquatic. This metamorphosis takes place in about five days. The male mosquitoes have bushy antennae which are said to have auditory receptors to detect the whine of an approaching female mosquito. The females' antennae can also detect the host odours before going for a bite and having a blood meal. These mosquitoes travel to about 12 km at night! They live for about four weeks. Their natural predators are the house lizards, dragonfly nymphs (an aquatic predator for larvae and pupae), martins, bats and fish like Guppies and Mosquitofish.

Bite of this 'Dracula' fly:
Both female and male mosquitoes are nectar-drinkers. But the female is also in need of protein and iron for its mass egg production. So, it bites the mammals to get them through the blood sucked in. While it is biting, apart from causing pain and itch, it injects its saliva that contains anticoagulants. This makes the blood drawn (into its proboscis) to flow freely into its mouth without any clotting or block. Mosquitoes bite both at dusk and dawn. They have excellent sense of smell that detects the presence of carbon-di-oxide and the chemicals of human perspiration to locate the place of their feeding host. Yet another type of mosquito (Toxorhynchites splendens, Mosquitohawk) does not bite humans at all to get blood, as its larvae kill and eat the larvae of Tiger mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and thus control Dengue by themselves!

Experiences with this 'Kosu' (mosquito):
At dusk the female mosquitoes smell outdoors the human odour from the stale air getting out of the windows and enter the house. When males also try to enter the windows, females fly back towards them and mate; then they re-enter the house to have blood meal! They can even sense warmer human skin in winter and follow us as we enter into our house! At night, I have also felt mosquitoes intrude under my blanket through gaps and bite me thwarting repellents, draughts of fan and even winter cold!
I listed two years before itself to write about this wonder terror mosquito. But it eluded me as I had to tell all about it. Now I have told you a few wonder aspects of it! I am still in search of ways to bring down the population of this wonder villain of me, as also the whole world!

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