I Heart Indies

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Consider the Mosquito

It has been a warm and rainy summer and the mosquitoes are loving it.  Let's talk a little about the wonder of the mosquito.  The name mosquito comes from Spanish for "fly" and the diminutive "-ito."  It literally means "little fly."  Perhaps they would be better named vampiritoes or draculitoes, but let it pass.  Someone should also inform the Mosquito Indians how incredibly insulting their name is.

Anyway, when a mommy and daddy mosquito love each other very very much, the angels give mommy a tiny egg, along with about two hundred other tiny eggs, to put in a cozy little pool of stagnant water.  Soon the water is filled with tumbling little larvae, eating algae and breathing through their spiracles.  All too soon, however, their carefree childhood is over, and four days after hatching, off they go to have families of their own.

Boy mosquitoes eat only nectar.  Females are the bloodsuckers.  I will make no misogynistic comment here, I merely point out this scientific fact.  The men hang out in groups, and once in a while a female will fly right into the midst of them to mate.  No one thinks any worse of the female for behaving this way, but we have to keep in mind these are only mosquitoes.  Now the female has to get a good belly-full of blood.  This is key to the whole thing.  Without blood, she won't be able to make any babies, and a mosquito has a biological clock like a...  well, the simile fails me, but think of a very, very fast clock. 

Drinking blood could be very dangerous for mosquitoes which is something you probably never thought about, did you?  For example, if the blood clotted, as blood tends to do, she would choke on it, and pretty soon there'd be no more baby mosquitoes.  Fortunately God gives her a very special chemical in her saliva that keeps blood from clotting.  She's not just drinking you see, she's also spitting in you.  It's this spit, this mosquito backwash, that causes the bite to itch.  Without it, you'd probably never even know you'd been bitten, and what would be the fun of that?  So she finds some blood, so she can lay her eggs and the whole beautiful cycle of life begins again.

Let us now do some math.  A mosquito spends about four days developing from egg to adult, and typically mates about two days after that.  So an entire generation takes about a week.  Each female lays around two hundred eggs or so.  After a month, then, starting with just two mosquitoes - and there are never just two - there could be as many as one billion, six hundred million mosquitoes.  

But don't worry.  

Only about eight hundred million of those will try to bite you.`

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