All of us have that one friend who always complains about getting bitten by mosquitoes more than anyone else. Well, there is some light at the end of that bite-filled tunnel for them. No, this is not an article about how to stop mosquitoes from biting them, because science has yet to come up with an answer to that, but more about why only some people get bitten more than others.
As per a controlled study by the Journal of Medical Entomology, mosquitoes are selective insects and prefer people with blood Type O nearly twice as frequently as those with Type A. That is because the bugs are attracted to secretions produced by that blood type.
Jonathan F Day, Professor of Entomology at the University of Florida, agrees with the blood preference study and has also pointed out some other factors that draw the bugs towards certain people.
“Perhaps CO2 is the most important. The amount of CO2 you produce, like people with high metabolic rates ― genetic, other factors ― increases the amount of carbon dioxide you give off. The more you give off, the more attractive you are to these arthropods,” he said.
The world has suffered the bites of 3,500 species of mosquitoes and these tiniest of creatures are responsible for transmitting several diseases, including some fatal ones.
Among all the species, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is alone responsible for Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. What’s more alarming is that half of the world’s population reside in areas where this species is present. Meanwhile, Anopheles mosquitoes are known to carry malaria.
“Their ability to carry and spread the disease to humans causes millions of deaths every year. The worldwide incidence of dengue has risen 30-fold in the past 30 years, and more countries are reporting their first outbreaks of the disease,” underlines the World Health Organisation.
These annoying insects are responsible for 7,00,000 deaths every year.
India has 400 species and all of them carry diseases. Since population and hygiene play a crucial role in determining the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, it does not come as a surprise that 67,000 people across the country were diagnosed with last year.
While the high statistics are surely concerning but It is also surprising to note that of the total species, the majority of them rely on plants and fruit nectar to survive, with only 6 per cent of female species that draw blood from humans for their eggs.
If only a minuscule group of mosquitoes are harmful, why can’t we just get rid of them? Or probably wipe out the entire species?
Moral reasons apart, there are actually legitimate arguments that support preserving mosquitoes.
These vectors are a staple food for millions of creatures like frogs, dragonflies, bats and birds. So eradicating them could disrupt the food chain. Plus, male mosquitoes pollinate all plants while consuming nectar.
While killing all mosquitoes is not an ecologically effective solution, it does help to know that mosquitoes actually have a role to play in this world, and are worth protecting, however painful their bites may be.
Edited by Gayatri Mishra