With the summer arrives armies of mosquitoes, which with buzzing and puncturing torment our evenings and nights. Discomfort that in fact is not limited to the period of great heat, but which, to a lesser extent fortunately, continues in the autumn and winter months. But the arrival of the mosquitoes does not reserve only bad news. There are also various curiosities.
1) There are at least 3000 species of mosquito, of which 70 are present in Italy . Not all of them attack humans: most prefer birds, amphibians and invertebrates.
2) Only the fertilized females bite, because the blood is rich in proteins necessary for the development of the eggs. Males? They prefer to devote themselves to flower nectar.
3) The saliva of mosquitoes contains an anticoagulant that allows them to suck blood more easily and induces an allergic response by our immune system (the wheal ).
4) Mosquitoes have a weakness for beer and alcohol drinkers in general. Perhaps because those who take it produce greater quantities of acetone, ethanol and methanol through sweat. In general, however, they are attracted by carbon dioxide, released by the breath and the skin, and by lactic acid, which they can perceive up to 30 meters.
5) The buzz is due to the rapid blinking of wings (from 300 to 600 times per second). According to some experts it would be a love call: attracted by the hum of the male, the female mosquito begins to imitate it, trying to reach the same shade to get in tune. This is also love.
6) It is not true that they are useless, as one would like to say! The species Aedes impiger and Aedes nigripes (to give just one example), widespread in Canada and Russia, provide an important food resource for migratory birds : in fact many species enrich the diet of insects, birds, amphibians and fish. We also know at least two orchids of the genus Platanthera that receive pollen from mosquitoes … In nature, nothing is useless: at most we ignore its purpose.
7) An adult mosquito lives at most 5/6 months, without going too far from the outbreak (to learn more). But there are also wandering mosquitoes: those of the salt marshes for example can travel for 150 km.
8) They are the animals that claim the most victims in the world, because they transmit the malaria that every year, only in Africa, according to the Lancet magazine, kills 1.2 million people.
9) Mosquitoes in the afternoon are less active : it's too hot and they prefer to stay cool while waiting for the evening.
10) They love black, they hate white . Studies conducted between 1938 and 1955 have shown that mosquitoes have a preference for those who wear dark-colored clothing. Black above all, followed by red and blue. While they would find the white unattractive. But it does not apply to all species.
BONUS - The thing they hate most? The oil extracted from catnip which, according to some studies, would be even more repellent than deet (dietiltoluamide), considered one of the most effective insect-repellents.