Mosquitoes are best known for their annoying, itchy bites. But why do mosquitoes need to bite you? And do mosquitoes stop after just one bite? To know how many times a single mosquito can bite you, we must understand which mosquitoes take a blood meal and how the feeding process works.
Why Do Mosquitoes Bite?
You may have heard that not all mosquitoes bite you, which is true on two levels. First, some mosquitoes, like Tox mosquitoes (Toxorhynchites sp.), feed exclusively on flower nectar and therefore have no reason to try and bite you.
Aside from Tox mosquitoes, the only other mosquitoes known never to bite a person or animal are male mosquitoes. In the world of mosquito host finding, it’s ladies-choice. Female mosquitoes are exclusively the biting breed as they require nutrients from their blood meal to support egg production.
Why Are Mosquito Bites Itchy?
Mosquito host finding is a multi-step process. When a mosquito finds a host to bite, she uses her labium, a sensory mouthpart, to probe the skin for optimal sites to take a blood meal. Once she finds an area of the skin she likes, she will unsheathe her proboscis, a long straw-like mouthpart that she uses to piece the skin and suck up blood.
The probing and piercing of the skin may cause a ticklish or tingling feeling, but the itch occurs during the bite process. In order to suck up as much blood as she can, the mosquito will secrete saliva containing anticoagulants as she feeds. The anticoagulant compounds in the saliva prevent the blood from clotting, but the body detects these compounds as foreign invaders, and your immune response causes the skin to rise, get warm, and itch.
If you were getting itchy just reading the last paragraph, you’re not alone! Part of the itchiness that comes with mosquitoes is psychological. Phantom itch describes feeling like there are bugs on you when nothing is actually there. In the same way that talking about lice can make your head feel prickly, seeing mosquitoes flying around or catching one that lands on you before the bite can still cause an intense itchy sensation.
Can A Mosquito Bite Me More Than Once?
This is the question I’m sure we’re all itching to know the answer to by now. While I wish I could tell you there is a definitive answer, a mosquito may bite you as often as she needs to find an optimal site to take a blood meal. And even when she finds an optimal area, the mosquito may pierce the skin multiple times until she hits a vein.
An average mosquito needs to drink three times her body weight in blood per hatch of eggs she can lay. This means that a female mosquito will continue to host-find and bite until she either has enough blood or gets swatted in the process. This could mean she bites you once, twice, thrice, or more to complete her bloodmeal and nourish her eggs.
While it's challenging to say the exact number of times the same mosquito can bite you, we can say for sure that where there is one mosquito, there will be more. Mosquitoes can fly one to three miles in search of hosts, meaning many mosquitoes can locate and attempt to bite you simultaneously. Even if every mosquito only bit you once when your yard is swarming with mosquitoes, it’s easy to lose count of the bugs over the bites! Additionally, individuals that are “mosquito magnets” are more attractive to mosquitoes and may be sought out and bitten more persistently by the same mosquitoes.
Don’t Count Your Bites – Avoid Them!
Mosquitoes are ruthless when it comes to tracking down their hosts. Don’t let yourself become their next meal! Mosquito Squad offers traditional and natural barrier treatments to manage the mosquitoes swarming your yard. Contact us today for a free quote, or call (512) 488-5331