All About Mozzies
Mosquitoes, or the diseases they transmit, are responsible for more human deaths through the millennia than any other cause. Thankfully mosquitoes in New Zealand very rarely carry or transmit any harmful diseases, but their bites can still be painful and irritating.
Here are some fascinating facts about mosquitoes and how to protect yourself and your family from their bites.
- There are over 3,000 species of mosquito worldwide. There are only 16 species in New Zealand.
- Mosquito means “little fly” in Spanish. In New Zealand, they are often referred to as mozzies.
- Mozzies is a clever onomatopoeia contraction of mosquitoes.
- Mosquitoes mostly feed on fruit and nectar. However, the females need a protein feed to develop her eggs and that is when she takes a blood feed.
- The mosquito proboscis (mouthpart) has two tubes; one to draw blood and the other to inject saliva that contains anti-coagulant to stop the blood clotting and blocking the proboscis.
- The biting mosquito can ingest 3 times her own weight in blood.
- Mosquitoes do not just bite at dusk and dawn. The different species of mosquito may have different habits and several species feed during the day or in the middle of the night.
- The female mosquito can lay up to 300 eggs. The larvae live in stagnant water for about 10 days feeding on organic matter. They pupate and then emerge as adults.
- Most mosquitoes live for about 2 months. Some mosquitoes hibernate in the winter.
- Mosquitoes don’t fly very far, not more than 5 km. And they mostly stay below 10 m height.
- Chemicals in sweat, CO2 in breath and body heat are what biting mosquitoes are attracted to. There is little evidence that eating garlic, avoiding bananas or taking extra Vitamin B has any effect on your attractiveness to mosquitoes.
- Most people have a mild allergic reaction to the saliva injected by mosquitoes. This causes the raised red mark and itchiness.
- Midges and crane flies are often mistaken for mosquitoes.
- Room plug-in mosquito repellents are effective at keeping mosquitoes out and preventing bites while indoors.
- Personal insect repellents containing 30-50% DEET are the most effective in preventing bites and are recommended in areas where mosquitoes carry diseases or would cause a significant nuisance.