Why Do Mosquitoes Suck Your Blood?
Female mosquitoes bite and suck blood due to its iron, protein, and amino acid content that is essential for the development of their eggs.

It is interesting to know that only female mosquitoes bite and suck your blood because iron, proteins, and amino acids in the blood are essential for the development of their eggs.

Several thousands of mosquito species feed on the blood of humans, animals, birds, and even other insects to gain proteins that help with reproduction.

However, male mosquitoes feed only on water, flower nectar, and other plant juices. Female mosquitoes also feed on nectar and plant juices along with blood.

What are mosquitoes?

A mosquito is a small insect that flies around feeding on the blood and plant juices for reproduction and survival. Mosquitoes are considered parasites because they live feeding on the blood of living organisms, and in return, they infect humans and animals with various disease-causing parasites.

Mosquitoes have complex, long mouthparts known as proboscis that has six thin needles called stylets.

  • Whenever they find a suitable host, they puncture the skin with their mouth and suck in blood.
  • As the mosquito bites your skin, it injects some of its salivae so that the blood doesn’t clot.
  • Along with saliva, mosquitoes transfer infection-causing agents into the blood. 

Various life-threatening mosquito-borne diseases lead to death among the population globally. Because of this, mosquitoes are considered harmful insects.

Mosquitoes do not feed on one person. They feed on several people for one meal, which is known as sip feeding. Sip feeding increases the number of people who are being exposed to infections.

Mosquitoes attack people throughout the day. They are often found around water bodies, and they lay their eggs in shallow waters such as ponds, lakes, small pools, or anywhere water is stagnant.

What happens when a mosquito bites?

Most mosquito bites are harmless, but some people may develop allergic reactions following the bite. Some may be infected with pathogens (disease-causing organisms) that transfer from the mosquito to the host.

With every bite, mosquitoes transfer some amount of their saliva. This saliva acts as an allergen, provokes the host immune system, and produces inflammatory reactions, which include:

Complications of mosquito bites include:

  • Cellulitis: As the infection-causing bacteria penetrate the skin area, it becomes red and is extremely unpleasant to the touch.
  • Impetigo: It is a local bacterial infection that causes sores, soft scabs, and pus. Scratching or picking at the bites causes this condition. This is most commonly seen in itchy bites.
  • Lymphangitis: If the bacterial infection spreads through the lymphatic system, it produces a red line that runs up the arm or leg. This is more dangerous because the infection has the potential to enter the bloodstream.
  • Diseases: Mosquito bites may transmit infections such as malaria, dengue fever, Zika fever, chikungunya, and West Nile fever.

How to treat mosquito bites

Usually, mosquito bites do not need any attention. However, sometimes, they might become red and itchy.

With the following remedies, you may get relief from itching:

  • Applying diluted apple cider vinegar on the bite may help reduce the itch.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and apply it to the bite and leave it to dry. You may add baking soda to a warm bath.
  • Adding Epsom salt to baths or applying Epsom salt mixed water on the bite helps with itching.
  • Ice packs can be applied to the bites to reduce itch and redness.
  • Applying aloe vera gel on the bites relieves itch and pain.
  • Applying honey on the bites may reduce inflammation.
  • Using antihistamines will reduce symptoms such as itching or skin irritation.

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5 common diseases spread by mosquito bites

Diseases that are transmitted through mosquito bites are Zika fever, West Nile fever, chikungunya, dengue fever, and malaria.

  1. Zika fever:
    • Infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus) transmit Zika virus. These mosquitoes bite at any hour of the day.
    • Zika virus can be passed on to a fetus from a pregnant woman. Certain birth abnormalities can be caused by infection during pregnancy. Miscarriages and stillbirths are caused by the Zika virus.
    • There is no Zika vaccine or specific treatment. Symptoms caused by the Zika virus may last for several days to weeks, which include:
  2. West Nile fever:
    • West Nile virus (WNV) is most usually transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito and is the main cause of mosquito-borne illness in the United States.
    • WNV cases arise during mosquito season, which begins in the summer and lasts into the fall.
    • There are no vaccinations or specific drugs available to prevent or treat WNV in humans.
    • Fortunately, the majority of people infected with WNV do not become ill.
    • One in every five people who become infected has a fever and other symptoms.
    • Approximately 1 in every 150 infected people develops a serious, perhaps deadly, infection, and symptoms of the serious illness include:
    • Recovery from a severe disease could take weeks or months. Some effects on the central nervous system may be long-term.
    • One out of every 10 people who have a serious illness that affects the central nervous system dies.
  3. Chikungunya:
    • Fever and joint discomfort are the most typical symptoms of infection. Other symptoms include:
    • Outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific oceans.
    • Chikungunya was discovered for the first time in the Americas in late 2013 on the Caribbean islands.
    • Infected tourists pose a risk of spreading the illness to new locations.
    • There is no vaccine or treatment to prevent or treat chikungunya.
    • Travelers can protect themselves by not getting bitten by mosquitoes.
  4. Dengue:
    • Aedes species (Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus) mosquito transmits dengue viruses to humans through bites.
    • Almost half of the world's population, or about 4 billion people, live in dengue-risk areas.
    • Dengue fever is frequently the major cause of sickness in high-risk settings.
    • Dengue fever outbreaks are occurring in several places around the world. Take precautions against mosquito bites.
    • A novel dengue vaccine has been licensed for use in children aged 9 to 16 years who have had a past laboratory-confirmed dengue virus infection and live in dengue-endemic areas.
    • Some US territories and freely affiliated states are considered endemic zones.
    • The vaccine is not recommended for use in US visitors who are visiting but not living in a dengue-infested area.
    • Symptoms of dengue typically last two to seven days, and the most common symptoms of dengue include:
  5. Malaria:
    • Malaria is a parasitic disease that is spread by mosquitoes.
    • People with malaria frequently experience fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms.
    • If they are not treated, they may develop serious complications and die.
    • 241 million cases of malaria were reported worldwide in 2020, with 627,000 people dying.
    • Each year, about 2,000 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States.
    • The majority of cases in the United States are in tourists and immigrants returning from malaria-endemic countries, many of which are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

8 reasons why some people are more prone to mosquito bites

Some people are more likely to get bitten by mosquitoes than others. If one individual is bitten more than the other, certain factors can account for a fraction of the difference.

  1. Skin chemicals: Some people tend to excrete more substances such as lactic acid, ammonia, and uric acid from the skin. Mosquitoes are more attracted to such people.
  2. Bacteria on the skin: If you do not follow proper hygiene, you tend to grow more bacteria on your skin; this attracts mosquitoes.
  3. Blood type: Mosquitoes most preferably bite people with O blood group and avoid people with AB blood group.
  4. Metabolic rate: With the increased metabolic rate in the body, the body produces more carbon dioxide (CO2), and it is exhaled out. Mosquitoes are attracted to CO2.
  5. Easy target: Mosquitoes tend to attack those who are in their proximity.
  6. Wearing dark-colored clothes: Mosquitoes are attracted to people who wear dark-colored clothes.
  7. Scents: Mosquitoes are attracted to people who use perfume.
  8. Alcohol: Mosquitoes are attracted to people who drink alcohol.

How to get rid of mosquitoes naturally

  • Get rid of any standing water around the house or in the yard.
  • Use a swatter to get rid of mosquitoes in your home.
  • Use insect repellent.
  • Mosquitoes can bite through flimsy clothing. As a result, spraying repellant on clothing will provide additional protection.
  • Use screens to cover windows and doorways.
  • Stay indoors during the peak of mosquito activity (dusk and dawn).
  • Use insect repellent compounds on garments, tents, and net covers.
  • Replace outdoor light bulbs with yellow bulbs that are less appealing to insects.

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Medically Reviewed on 1/25/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Mosquito Bites: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17695-mosquito-bites

Mosquito-Borne Diseases: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/outdoor/mosquito-borne/default.html

Mosquitos: Why do they Suck? https://sciencemadefun.net/blog/mosquitos-why-do-they-suck/