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Amber Inclusion/ Mosquito
 

Mosquitoes are members of the insect Family Culicidae. Insects belonging to this family possess paired scaled wings, paired halteres, slender bodies, and long legs. They belong to the insect Order Diptera (“true flies”).

Mosquito is a Spanish word which means little fly. The term mosquito was recorded to have been first used in 1583 in North America. Europeans have a different term for mosquitoes. They call them gnats.

Mosquitoes are similar to flies. The differences among the two insects include: scales on the wings of mosquitoes, longer legs and female mosquitoes possessing a long mouth part called proboscis used for piercing their victim’s skin.

Only the female mosquitoes suck blood from other animals. The usual size of mosquitoes differs but is usually not more than fifteen millimeters. They weigh between 2 to 2.5 milligrams and can fly with a speed of 1.5 to 2.5 kilometers per hour. Most species of mosquitoes are active only at night (nocturnal).

The most dominant suburb species of mosquitoes are the Aedes vexan and Culex pipien. The former is a floodwater variety and accounts for eighty percent of all infestation. The latter species carries diseases and are deemed most dangerous. They are known as the stagnet variety. They become carriers when they bite an infected person, thus ingesting the virus. The ingested virus will build up inside the mosquito. When the mosquito bites someone else, it will infect that person. Of the 150 different mosquito species in the United States, seventy lives on Florida and twenty in Northern Illinois.

It was about 135 million years ago (Jurassic era) that mosquitoes were believed to have evolved. The earliest document mosquito fossil came sixty-five million years ago during the Cretaceous era. The first mosquitoes were considerably bigger compared to the current mosquitoes and are believed to be a sister group to the biting midges (Chaoboridae).

Basically, like all other insects, mosquitoes have three major body parts. The head of a mosquito contains all the sensors and the biting apparatus. The head includes the mosquitoes’ compound eyes, antennae to sense chemicals, the mouth parts (palpus) and for the female mosquitoes, the proboscis that is used for biting. The thorax is attachment segment of the two wings and the six legs. It also contains the compound heart, the flight muscles, trachioles and some nerve cell ganglia. Containing the excretory and digestive organs is the abdomen.

The usual life span of an adult mosquito is five months. The mosquito eggs of the floodwater variety usually remain dormant for several years, hatching only when they are covered in water. A mosquito larva can take several months to mature into adult mosquitoes during winter time.

The scales on the mosquito’s wings act as a drag to help them fly since they have small wings. The wings beat up to 600 times per second. They can fly at a speed of up to 1.5 miles per hour. They usually do not stray away from their habitat but one mosquito species is an exception to this. The salt marsh mosquito can migrate from seventy-five to a hundred miles total in his lifetime.

The sound of a female mosquito’s wing beating is a homing device to their male counterparts. The male mosquitoes judge the pitch of a female’s wings in correctly identifying what species they belong.

Being around for more than thirty million years had made mosquitoes efficient in finding their preys. Mosquitoes have chemical, visual and heat sensors that were designed for tracking their prey.

Chemical sensors. Mosquitoes are sensitive to lactic acid and carbon dioxide. They can sense these chemicals within a distance of a hundred feet. They are also attracted to human sweat.

Visual sensors. Clothing that contrasts with the background is an easy target for mosquitoes. It is their belief that an object that is moving is alive and is full of blood.

Heat sensors. Heat can be detected by mosquitoes. They are pulled by the heat of warm-blooded animals.

Mosquitoes cannot bite, they sting. They first penetrate the skin of their prey using a stylet. To avoid their victim’s blood from clotting, a chemical called salvia is injected to their victim. The mosquitoes will then drink or suck up the blood. After drinking their fill, the mosquitoes fly away.

Adult female mosquitoes weigh more than the male mosquitoes. They usually weigh about two milligrams. They can consume five-millionths of a liter of blood in one sting. Male mosquitoes derive needed nutrients from plant nectars.

Trivia

Arctic researchers, in the interest of science, had their arms, chests and legs bared and exposed to mosquito bites. Almost 9,000 bites were reported by the researchers per minute. This would mean an average of two hours for an unprotected human to lose half of his blood from mosquito bites.

 
 
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