In some of our previous articles we already explained that only female mosquitoes drink our blood. Males eat nectar from plants (which is a sugary liquid). We’ve all had those nasty bites that annoyed us for days, but do we really know what’s happening behind the scenes? How much blood did they take from us and why didn’t we notice a thing in the first place? When it comes to mosquitoes and blood, here are some of the most common frequently asked questions around:
How much blood do mosquitoes eat/drink?
If we let a mosquito suck our blood without disturbing it, the amount of consumed blood is somewhere around 0.005 up to 0.01 milliliter. Now, 0.01 milliliter of blood weighs about 10 milligrams. The mosquitoes we find in our house usually weigh around 2.5 milligrams. In other words, they’re able to consume up to 4 times their own body weight.
Let’s compare this to humans (fun fact)
The above got us thinking: If we as a human would eat or drink 4 times our own body weight, we’d end up consuming an entire zebra (including the bones). Now quite obviously a zebra is not a liquid, we’re just trying to explain things by weight. In liquid terms it would mean that we humans would drink about 400 bottles of red wine within minutes. Not a good idea.
Why don’t we feel mosquito bites?
The interaction of a mosquito with a human consists of 2 phases: The landing on our skin and the actual sucking of blood. So why don’t we feel a thing during that process?
We just explained that a mosquito weighs around 2.5 milligrams, which means they’re extremely light weight. Furthermore, the surface of their legs is very small. All in all we’re usually not able to detect their landing on our skin, especially when we’re sleeping. The landing usually happens directly on our skin, but can mosquitoes bite through clothes? The answer might surprise you.
After a mosquito landed on our skin it’ll start biting. What happens is this: They release saliva which prevents our blood from clotting (and facilitates their drinking). However, their saliva also has a numbing effect on our skin. Drinking from a numbed area allows mosquitoes to successfully operate (unless we somehow wake up which bring us to the following question). If you’re curious, here’s our article that answers the question: “Why are mosquito bites so big?”
Should you let a mosquito finish?
If you detect a mosquito biting you, you should definitely not let it finish drinking your blood. Like we just explained, a mosquito releases saliva into your skin for several reasons. This release of saliva continues during the entire process. We all know those itchy wounds right? Well, this is our reaction to their saliva. In other words, we want to reduce the amount of saliva by getting rid of the mosquito as soon as possible.
One thing to note here is that some experts claim that you shouldn’t smack a biting mosquito. These experts advise you to make a quick movement so the mosquito understands it’s time to leave your skin. You can read more about this discussion here.
Does the food you eat attract mosquitoes?
This is a tough question that hasn’t fully been answered as far as we know. Many people say that mosquitoes prefer humans who eat salty or sugary (and even spicy) food. We don’t know if this is exactly the case. However, some researchers have proven that mosquitoes like people who drink beer and eat bananas. This could explain their preference for sugar. Garlic and onions seem to repel mosquitoes to a certain extent.
Do mosquitoes get drunk?
Let’s say you enjoyed a few glasses of wine before going to bed. A mosquito is waiting for you to fall asleep so it can finally drink your blood. Now, will it get drunk? This seems to be a hard question that hasn’t yet really been answered by professionals. However, we do know that some “bigger” flying insects like bees or flies have shown to “go nuts” after consuming alcohol. Some we even flying upside down. This article by BBC explains that mosquitoes become hyper active but probably not into any extremes. We think it would be fun to see a mosquito crash into the wall or dance the Macarena. But that is probably not going to happen.
Does a mosquito ever get full?
As long as a mosquito is able to drink blood without any interruption, it will get full. Like we already explained, this should only take a few minutes. If however you make a movement that scares the mosquito away, it will come back for the remaining blood. Always a good idea to have a bug zapper racket in your bedroom.
Do mosquitoes poop?
Female mosquitoes drink blood and male mosquitoes eat nectar. Whether blood or nectar, both of these substances will be absorbed and broken down within their bodies, just like we humans digest our food. So yes, mosquitoes do in fact poop. We’ve never seen them using a toilet, but well, most animals don’t really care for those.
Female mosquitoes love our blood because it’s full of proteins and other nutritions which they need for reproduction. They found a great way to drink human blood without us actually noticing. However, their bites usually don’t take longer than a few minutes (sometimes even shorter than that) until they are full. In the meantime they drank about 4 times their own body weight, which is pretty crazy if you think about it. The food and drinks we consume does have an effect on their taste, but it’s probably not that big of a deal. Once they’re done they find a place to chill for a few days, lay their eggs and poop around a little.
Just a short disclaimer: This article refers to the “normal mosquito” that we find in our homes. The information doesn’t apply to all species. The Elephant mosquito for example doesn’t require human blood for reproduction.
Want to keep your blood to yourself?
When we experience that skin irritation after a mosquito bite it’s already too late. We wake up at night, turn on the lights, do some mosquito swatting and hopefully fall back to sleep. Having a bug zapper racket next to your bed could be of some assistance, but you’re still struggling at night. In other words, try to be prepared. There are many helpful gadgets and they’re not necessarily ugly to look at, like this decorative bug zapper for example. Well, it’s more of a trap since it doesn’t make the typical zapping sounds.