Mosquitoes choose their victims
Sometimes you have certainly heard the phrase that some people are more prone to mosquitoes bite because thier blood is sweet. This idea is part of a popular culture that has taken root from generation to generation until today, but is it really true?
According to researchers, it has nothing to do with it. These insects are not interested in blood sugar but proteins. Only the females feed off blood because they need proteins to develop her eggs in the abdomen. And, yes, it is a matter of survival, as Darwin said.
Females, responsible for guaranteeing their descendants, choose the “victims” before biting them considering what waste substances they secrete through their skin and mouth. One of the most important “baits” is the carbon dioxide from exhaled breath that produces beats detected by mosquitoes. The lactic acid, which is produced in the sweat and breathing, is another chemical substance that provokes mosquito’s reaction. Undoubtedly, these insects fly through “chemical clouds” and are able, considering very specific substances, to decide who the next victim is. As information, those people who consume alcohol are more frequent meal tickets for mosquitoes than the rest of the population because alcohol rise the body temperature increasing ethanol levels in their sweat.
The bacteria living in our skin also play an important role to attract some mosquito species. In fact, some species preferably bite those body areas where there is a higher levels of bacterial flora, like feet.
When the mosquito female bites someone, she injects her saliva into the skin containing an anticoagulant substance that allows blood outflow to easily reach the tip of her mouth. After completing her mission, part of this saliva remains in the human skin causing an immune reaction that irritates the area that has been bitten.
The irritation produces an intense itching transmitted to Group C nerve fibers, the smaller fibers of the skin in size and number that send the nerve impulse to the brain giving the order to scratch. Scratching stimulates nerve endings and new nerve impulses transmit a relief of itching. However, it happens that the more you scratch the skin the more it itches. The answer is because this action stimulates pain receptors in the area that has been bitten.
When the pain becomes somehow intense, the central nerve system releases analgesic substances to reduce pain sensation. These substances, on the contrary, worsen itching while stimulating Group C nerves fibers and, therefore, a constant need to scratch is felt completing a vicious cycle sometimes hard to break.
The good news is that allergic reaction to a mosquito bite that causes swelling and itching can be reduced if a mosquito of the same species bites and provides us more of the substance mentioned before. The bad news is that it only works if the mosquito belongs to the same species and there are more than three thousands...
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