“Why do mosquitoes suck my blood?” This might be a question your kids have asked in the past while scratching at a handful of itchy red welts left behind by the little pests.
But do you know the answer? It’s something most of us haven’t thought about since 7th-grade biology, but mosquitoes are actually much more complex creatures than we give them credit for.
While they may be irritating, we at The Natural Patch Co. are the mosquito behavior and mosquito fighting experts. We are going to discuss everything you need to know about the headache that is the adult mosquito. These bugs might be your least favorite thing on the planet right now, so we've got the answers.
Additionally, we are going to go over how you can actively prevent mosquito bites from dawn to dusk, whether you are outdoors playing tag or indoors.
Read on for more.
Blood-suckers, skeeters, pests, swamp angel, nipper, mozzie. Or, perhaps names used in the scientific community: Anopheles mosquitoes, Aedes Albopictus, or the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
These bugs have more names than we can list here. Regardless of what you call them, you’re likely familiar with these flying insects that favor warm, moist climates and can result in itchy welts. But, what do mosquitoes do, and why do they do that?
Mosquitoes are actually one of the most common insects around the globe. Did you know that there are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes? That’s a lot of bug bites! Or is it?
You might be surprised to find out that not every type of mosquito bites. And even if it does, it’s usually only the females, not males, that attack. Male mosquitoes favor plant nectar instead of leaving behind the angry red welts that your kids probably fuss about.
Additionally, mosquitoes feed all day and night. They need light sources to fly but aren’t attracted to light specifically (in the way many other bugs are).
Mosquitoes are considered vectors which means they can carry viruses and parasites. Now, obviously, every mosquito bite does not end in Malaria or West Nile Virus, but these are two of the many diseases that can be carried by the blood-feeding insect.
Mosquitoes can also transmit and carry:
- Dengue fever
- Yellow Fever
- Zika Virus
Because of this, it’s a great idea to keep repellents handy. Natural mosquito repellants are a great option to look into to protect your family from these bugs.
Why Shouldn’t We Get Rid of Mosquitoes?
Believe it or not, mosquitoes are actually beneficial to the environment. They provide nutrients and energy for some of those same animals that we love to point out to our kids on nature walks. Mosquitoes are often a food source for animals such as bats, birds, and reptiles.
Additionally, their larvae and eggs are a great food source for fish and other insects. So, as annoying as they are, we don’t want to eradicate them from the face of the planet.
Additionally, they are pollinators. This is actually a primary function of many of the 3,500+ types of mosquitoes. Did you know that only 100 to 200 of those types of mosquitoes bite humans? Others might be interested in birds or reptiles.
Ultimately, there are actually a few mosquitoes that will try to bite us. Which is good for the species, because as parents, we know we will stop at nothing to protect our kids.
Why Do Mosquitoes Suck Blood?
As we said earlier, it’s actually only the females of those 100 to 200 types of mosquitoes that will suck blood. The simplest answer is that they need the nutrients to survive. Female mosquitoes suck blood because they need the protein to lay eggs.
You might be thinking, “But if we’re using repellents, won’t we kill off the mosquitoes that we just decided are good for the environment?” Thankfully, the answer is “Nope!”
See, these female mosquitoes aren’t limited ONLY to feasting on the blood of humans. They can also drink the nectar of flowers to achieve the same nutritional fulfillment.
Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?
Mosquitoes actually don’t just bite us. They actually inject a bit of saliva when they bite us. This allows them to make room to absorb the blood from our blood vessels through their little needle-like mouthparts called stylets. The maxillae have needles that act like teeth. But did you know that that saliva is not actually what makes the bump appear?
In fact, it’s really YOUR OWN BODY's immune response creating those itchy welts. That’s right! Mosquito saliva is actually an allergen. Some people are much more allergic than others and will be left with massive welts or even bruise-like marks from the mosquito saliva, causing a reaction.
Those bumps are actually a result of your body working well. They form because histamine rushes to the location of the bite to prevent further reaction. Have you ever noticed a ton of tiny bumps in one location on your child?
Some children have more severe symptoms or even an allergic reaction. Look for swelling, flu-like symptoms, rash, or more; a trip to the doctor might be necessary.
While your child may have had a very hungry mosquito choose them for their lunch, the chances are that they didn’t get bit five to six times in the same location. They probably had a single bite where a ton of saliva was injected, causing a more severe histamine reaction. Yikes!
Yes, these bites can look intimidating, but they are largely harmless. Even so, a large welt on a small toddler limb can look alarming and cause them quite a bit of grief.
Read on to learn how you can soothe your child’s misery.
How Do You Stop Mosquito Bites From Itching?
Maybe you’ve noticed a bunch of welts—large, small, or clustered. While these more extreme reactions can be scary, it's a sign that your child’s body is doing its job to protect them from allergens.
Mosquitoes are attracted to the CO2, body odor, and sweat we emit naturally. That’s why we’ve come up with a way to overpower that scent with a blend of natural essential oils with our BuzzPatch stickers. If they can’t smell you or your kids—there won’t be itchy bumps to deal with later. BuzzPatch stickers to repel mosquitoes, but we also produce itch relief patches.
These MagicPatch Itch Relief Patches work like a bandage with a unique Grid-Relief Technology that lifts the irritating biochemicals from the skin to soothe an angry bite in seconds.
Another benefit is that it provides a barrier to stop tiny fingernails from scratching at the itchy welt and breaking the skin, which could cause infection. And guess what? They work on grown-ups too.
While we’re less likely to consciously poke at those irritating bumps during the day, how many times have you woken up to find you’ve scratched a bump open in your sleep? The heat and friction caused by blankets can make the bites seem even itchier - so bedtime is a perfect opportunity to apply (or reapply) itch relief patches to yourself and your kids.
Mosquito bites are not only irritating, but to kids, they can be confusing too. Learning about mosquitoes is like going through a haunted house with all the lights on and none of the scary actors in costume or makeup. Yes, it might seem scary at first, but with the knowledge of what’s truly there, the threat seems less frightening in the daylight. The same goes for learning about mosquitoes.
Now you know more information, you can share it with your kids so that they understand how to protect themselves. Kids, especially those who are sensitive to thick, slimy, smelly creams and lotions, might not quite look forward to putting on their insect repellant.
But with insect repellent stickers, you can make safety into a super fun task. They can choose their favorite smiling face that emits lovely scents of essential oils. Kids thrive when given choice and agency, so you can easily mark this chore off your to-do list.
Mosquitoes are fascinating creatures that are essential to our ecosystems. Let’s learn more together so we can continue to keep our kids safe while also enjoying the great outdoors in harmony with the flying neighbors that also call our backyards their home.
Knowledge is power, after all. At The Natural Patch Co., we know that knowledge is power, after all. We are constantly providing news and information about mosquitoes and repelling options. As parents, we know how important it is to keep your family safe and healthy (and have a whole boatload of fun).
Let’s continue to educate ourselves about mosquito safety and how we can keep our kids safe while protecting our environment together!
What are Mosquitoes Good For? NPR