FACTS: There are about 3,000 species of mosquito, but culex pipiens is the most common. It is found almost all over the world, except in Antarctica.
Spanish for "little fly," mosquitoes beat their wings between 300 and 600 times per second. The unnerving sound they create differs from species to species, and listening for the right note helps male and female mosquitoes coordinate their social lives to find suitable mates!
But only female mosquitoes bite. Their eggs need the protein in blood to help develop. While culex pipiens females will happily snack on human blood, they tend to feed on birds – which implicates them in the transmission of the West Nile virus.
The actual sting of a mosquito is rarely painful, and it is seldom even detected. However, the saliva injected to stop blood from clotting provokes the aggravating skin inflammation and itching associated with a bite. Calamine lotions, and other creams, can help soothe the pain.
Of course, wearing longs pants and shirts, particularly at dawn and dusk, can help avoid bites in the first place. Mosquitoes are extremely attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale, and they can detect it up to 75 feet away – so you can also try holding your breath! Better yet, try repellents, particularly ones that contain diethyltoluamide (DEET), picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus. She might just take the hint.
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