It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the unofficial state bird…the mosquito! There are very few animals on Earth that evoke such a feeling of misery as the mosquito. And, if you have ever visited Camp Foley I am sure you have had the pleasure of being woken up in the middle of the night to itch one of those mosquito bites, which almost always end up in the most awkward place possible. Mosquitos are a natural, and healthy part of our environment here at Foley, and even though you might not stop disliking them, my hope is that you will have a new-found understanding of them.
|Female Mosquito feeding.|
Mosquito is Spanish for “little fly” and there are over 3,500 species in the world with about 50 of those species living in Minnesota. Mosquitos begin their lives in water, about 10 days, as larvae. They feed on organic matter that lives in stagnant water and breathe oxygen through little tubes called siphons, which look a lot like a snorkel! Over the next 10 days, they will eat and grow into an adult mosquito and fly away. If you think that they grow up fast, it is because the average mosquito only lives about 6-8 weeks.
During the course of their short lives, they spend their time doing two things….eating and laying eggs! As far as eating goes, only female mosquitos eat blood. That is right, females suck blood from people and animals, while male mosquitos feed off of plant nectar. Human skin produces over 300 chemical odors that smell like dinner to the mosquito. They can also detect body heat. So, really it is almost impossible to keep a mosquito from finding you!
So even though you may think mosquitos are very annoying creatures, they do play a role in our ecosystem! They are a reliable source of food for thousands of animals including bats, birds, frogs, and fish. So, the next time you head outside, grab that mosquito repellent, and don’t let the mosquitos take a bite outta you!
– Carrie Stageman, Assistant Director