Here’s how you protect yourself from the world’s deadliest animal — The Mosquito

When you think of a threatening animal, you probably think of sharks, alligators, snakes, bears, etc., but there is a much smaller, more dangerous animal to humans. They claim 50,000 times more lives than sharks. Though they are small in size, they can pack a deadly bite. Of course, we’re talking about the mosquito.

The mosquito, Spanish for “little fly,” holds the top spot for animals causing the most human deaths. There are over 3,000 different species in the world. During breeding season, mosquitoes outnumber every animal in the world (except ants and termites). Female mosquitoes are the only ones equipped with the necessary mouth parts to suck blood from a host. The blood isn’t used as food, but as a source of protein for their eggs. Their food source comes from nectar and other plant sugars.

Mosquitoes can be quite the nuisance and it only takes one bite to get really sick. They use several different factors to home in on their victims. Body odors, temperature and movement are just some factors a mosquito will use. When they bite, they leave behind an itchy, irritating mark. Sometimes the area of the bite will swell-up immediately, and other times it takes a few days to appear.

Mosquitoes can spread many diseases including malaria, Zika, dengue, west Nile, yellow fever, chikungunya and more. The ways in which diseases are transmitted varies depending on the species. According to National Geographic, in the case of malaria, parasites attach themselves to the gut of a female mosquito and enter a host as she feeds. In other cases, such as yellow fever and dengue, a virus enters the mosquito as it feeds on an infected human and is transmitted via the mosquito’s saliva to a subsequent victim.

How to Protect Yourself

Mosquitoes can be found everywhere in the world, except Antarctica. They need water to breed and they aren’t fans of extreme cold temperatures. If their eggs don’t stay in water, they won’t hatch. A small bucket left outside with a little amount of water can be plenty for a mosquito to reproduce. It’s probably safe to say, everywhere you go there’s probably a mosquito flying about.

It is very important to protect yourself against mosquitoes and take necessary precautions. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following:

  • Protect yourself when traveling: Learn about country-specific travel advice, health risks, and how to stay safe by visiting CDC Travelers’ Health website.
  • Use insect repellent: Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Cover up: Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Keep mosquitoes outside: Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.

Mosquitoes may not have their own week on The Discovery Channel like sharks, but maybe they should.

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