World Mosquito Day

Mosquitoes are interesting creatures, but can be very dangerous as they have the ability to transmit serious diseases. Here are some interesting facts about the stinging insects.

1). Mosquitoes get most of their nutritional requirements from plants and open accessible plant juice. Female mosquitoes don’t use blood as an energy source but rather to get the protein they need to help them produce their eggs. This is the reason why only female mosquitoes bite.

2). They can be found everywhere around the world except in the Antarctic.

3). Mosquitoes, like human beings, can migrate to new areas and adapt to local environmental conditions. For example, the Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) established in Southern Europe in 1990’s and has already caused disease outbreaks in these countries.

4). More than half of the world’s population is at risk of mosquito-borne disease and the diseases they transmit cause more than half a million deaths each year.

5). Different types of mosquitoes breed in different kinds of places. For example the Aedes mosquitoes which transmit dengue, zika and chikungunya breed in small volumes of water usually in small containers such as can be found in discarded waste; whereas many of the most important Anopheles vectors of malaria breed in shallow puddles of clean, open water such as can be found in rice fields or temporary puddles during the rainy season.

6). Not all mosquitoes bite people; in fact, the majority of mosquitoes do not bite people. Some prefer to bite other mammals or even reptiles and birds. Some species (e.g., many types of Anopheline malaria mosquitoes) bite us during the night and rest on internal walls after they have fed on blood, therefore bednets can protect us when we sleep or residual wall sprays can kill them as they rest. For those that bite during the day, we need to use personal repellents or mosquito control authorities must use adulticides or larvicides to bring down mosquito populations.

7). Mosquitoes detect our presence through a combination of signals which attract them: e.g., body temperature, carbon dioxide in our breath, and odour molecules we release. Some people get bitten by mosquitoes more than others because they emit a more attractive combination of these signals.

8). The diseases which mosquitoes transmit can also evolve over time. The Zika virus, which was first discovered in Uganda in the 1940’s, has evolved from a relatively benign form to one which causes more severe neurological disease and conditions such as microcephaly in the newborn. Malaria parasites have also evolved to become resistant to some of the drugs which have been used for treatment.

Insecticide-based interventions are currently the most effective means to prevent mosquito-borne disease. One of the biggest challenges encountered is the resistance to existing insecticides. Bayer invests in the development of new compounds targeting Aedes, Anopheline and other disease vectors in order to help overcome this challenge and help keep people healthy.

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