Mosquitoes - Interesting Facts

  • Mosquitoes vector many diseases to humans. Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Encephalitis, and others. Even today mosquitoes and their diseases kill over 2 million humans each year around the world. Every 30 seconds – somewhere in the world – a child dies from Malaria. Malaria means, literally, “bad air”, from the early belief that the disease was caused by breathing the stale, warm, humid air found around swamps.
  • Female mosquitoes have been shown to fly as far as 25 miles from where they emerged as an adult to where they were captured later.
  • Male mosquitoes do not bite – they feed on nectar and other plant juices.
  • Malaria, spread by mosquitoes, may have been responsible for killing one half of all humans on the Earth since the Stone Ages. Mosquitoes easily are rewarded the title of “World’s Deadliest Creatures”.
  • “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” is a famous campaign slogan for the 1840 presidency, when John Tyler ran as vice-president running mate to William Harrison. Tippecanoe brand of drink was marketed as a snake oil concoction that claimed to cure malaria, among the many other wild health claims it advertised.
  • The larvae of mosquitoes are called “wigglers” and the pupae are called “tumblers”, because of the way these early stages move around in the water.

Mosquito-borne diseases have changed the course of history many times:

  1. 1542 – Hernando DeSoto in Florida lost half of his troops in Florida to Yellow Fever
  2. 1741 – England sent Admiral Edward Vernon to Mexico and the Louisiana Territory with 27,000 men – 20,000 were killed by Yellow Fever
  3. 1802 – the brother of Napoleon, Charles LeClerc, came to the Louisiana Territory with 33,000 soldiers and lost 29,000 of them to Yellow Fever
  4. 1914 – in the United States there were 600,000 cases of Malaria, most in Florida and California – by 1930 this number still was over 6,000 cases per year
  5. 1923 – Russia had 5 million cases of malaria with over 60,000 deaths
  6. 2002 – in Africa malaria still kills as many as half of all children by the age of 5 years in many of the under-developed areas
  • The Asian Tiger Mosquito is native to eastern Asia, but entered the United States in 1985 in infested tires brought in for recycling. They were discovered in California in 2001 having come in with infested household bamboo plants. Their larvae can survive in only ¼ inch of water, and the adults can spread every disease spread by mosquitoes.
  • The Asian Tiger Mosquito may have been introduced into the western United States in planters of “lucky bamboo”, as larvae in the containers of water these plants were shipped in. Not so “lucky” now, perhaps.
  • When the Asian Tiger Mosquito invaded Brazil in 1985 there were only 6 cases of Dengue Fever each year. By that next year there were 350,000 cases of Dengue Fever.
  • One huge mosquito species in the United States – the genus Toxorhynchites – is called the “Tiger” Mosquito, for its larvae feed as voracious predators on other mosquito larvae, and the adults feed only on plant juices, not blood.
  • Mosquitoes that live in cold climates may be the most aggressive. In a study in the Canadian Arctic some researchers bared their arms, legs, and torsos in one experiment, and counted up to 9,000 mosquito bites each minute. At this rate an unprotected person could be drained of half of his blood in just 2 hours. In the southeastern states there have been reports of hundreds of cattle and horses dying from just such an overwhelming attack.