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What Happens When a Mosquito Bites?

Aug 26, 2022

What Happens When a Mosquito Bites?

How Does a Mosquito Bite?

Mosquitoes have a needle-shaped part on their mouth that is only visible under a microscope, called a proboscis. In female mosquitoes specifically, the proboscis is used to collect blood from our bodies. 

Believe it or not, mosquitoes are quite smart! They can detect carbon dioxide and heat from far away, which is what ultimately attracts them to our bodies. Once they’ve located their next victim, they will detect what blood vessels are closest to the skin's surface, insert its proboscis directly into the blood vessel and draw your blood.

 

Accessing the Blood Vessel

For a mosquito to become successful, it takes a lot of moving parts. Once the mosquito has found its target and is ready to pierce the skin, the proboscis is then punctured into the vessel, and they release their tubes (labrum) that will do the pumping of the blood. A second tube (hypopharynx) is also inserted into the vessel but rather than pumping blood, this tube directs saliva from the mosquito into the human bloodstream to prevent clotting.

 

Did you know? A mosquito can suck blood for up to four minutes or until its stomach is filled!

 

 

Why Do Mosquitoes Bite?

A mosquito wants your blood for the sole purpose of reproduction. Our body's blood is producing protein which aids in the reproduction of the mosquito life cycle. In fact, only female mosquitoes will latch onto your skin and suck your blood. This is because the females are carrying their eggs and are hungry. Once the mosquito is filled with enough protein, allowing its eggs to properly hatch, the mosquito will find a moist area to lay her eggs. The life cycle starts soon thereafter.


How Does Your Body React to a Mosquito’s Bite?

Everyone has experienced what it’s like to be bitten by one of these pesky insects and we have all experienced the same or slightly different bodily reactions. The most popular being itchy red bumps. The reason for this is because, as said before, the mosquito injects its saliva into your skin to prevent clotting but simultaneously infects us with it. The foreign substance is unknown to our bodies and will therefore trigger an immune system response. This response is called histamine and is designed to flush out the substance and return our bodies to its normal state. Once the immune system gets rid of the substance completely, the swelling and itching will go away as well.

Some reactions may include:

  • Red, puffy, itchy bump appearing minutes after the bite occurs

  • Reddish-brown bumps which exterior is hard and appears a day after the bite

  • Small blisters instead of hard bumps

 

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