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The world of Mosquitoes

Upasana Kamineni Konidela

Wellbeing Curator

8 min read

The world of Mosquitoes
To an extent, there has been a rise in mosquitoes around us in the last couple of weeks. The blame entirely cannot be put on the nationwide lockdown that India is currently undergoing. Mosquitoes generally thrive during the summer months. The Indian summer begins from late March to May and into June or July in parts of the country.

Research has found no relation of transmission of COVID-19 from mosquitoes. Other diseases can be transmitted by mosquitoes, it’s best not let UR guards down during this time.

The entire workforce of paramedics and municipal corporations have been busy with sanitization efforts in different parts of the country to prevent COVID-19. The temperature rising above 28 degrees Celsius in April and May, makes it peak breeding season for mosquitoes. Breeding is usually kept under check with fogging and spraying medicines. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, negligible amount of time given to these activities.

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The mosquito ranks pretty high on the list of the worlds deadliest organisms.
We along with Dr Suneetha Narreddy, infectious disease specialist get you the complete lowdown on mosquitoes to help safeguard URlife. Find below diseases causes by the deadly mosquito.

Chikungunya majorly affects the Asian and African continents. Symptoms include severe joint pains and fever. Infected patients show signs within a week of the mosquito bite. Post onset, it takes another week to recover with proper medication. People already suffering from joint pains take up to 2 months to recover from the pain. As of last year, there are no associated deaths with Chikungunya.

Dengue is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions. Symptoms include fever, headache (near the eyes), body pains, vomiting, motions. This disease causes a decrease in platelets levels. Platelets are those that help clot blood to prevent bleeding. If the platelet count is not gradually decreased, it takes two weeks to recover from dengue. Dengue could sometimes be life-threatening. Dengue kills approximately 22,000 people every year.

Malaria is present through the African and Indian subcontinent. Symptoms include Chills & evening fever on alternate days. With proper medication and care people affected from malaria can recover within three weeks. 405,000 deaths occur every year due to malaria.

Zika virus predominantly hits Africa, North and South America, Asia and the Pacific. Symptoms include Mild fever, Rash, Conjunctivitis, muscle, joint pain and headaches. If a pregnant person gets affected by this virus, it hinders the development of the foetus and complicates the birthing process. There is no treatment to the virus, so prevention is the only method to stay safe. Though cases are confirmed round the globe there is no fatality rate.

Lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) is one of the common diseases frequented in the tropical and subtropical areas. Symptoms include Permanent swelling of the lymph node. This affects mostly the lower legs and is not treatable. A medicine that can be taken only once a year seems to kill the parasite. It’s not a deadly disease but causes irreversible damage.


Japanese Encephalitis is a brain infection prevalent in Asia and the West Pacific. Symptoms include Headache, Fever, Disorientation, swelling of the brain (rarely). A vaccine is available to keep this disease at bay. If affected, it cannot be treated with medicine.More than 24,000 die due to this disease every year.

According to Umeå University, Sweden, mosquito larvae can spread infectious diseases like Ockelbo disease similar to Chikungunya alphavirus. Since this can cause a viral infection outbreak, it is best to take precautions to prevent breeding near UR surrounding areas, especially in the stagnant water.

Prevention is better than cure!

  • Try not to be outdoors during the early mornings and early evenings.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes.
  • Apply citronella oil as a mosquito repellent while going out. Citronella can also be used as bracelets, stickers or patches.
  • Use mosquito nets.
  • Use mosquito screens on windows and doors.
  • Get rid of stagnant water where mosquitoes breed or grow gambusia fish in stagnant water ponds.
  • Lemon, eucalyptus or neem oil can also be used to ward off the mosquitoes.

The truth behind the mosquito sting

A mosquito bites through its proboscis (a long elongated sucking tube) which functions more or less like a needle. As soon as this needle structure pierces our skin, the pain receptors send alarm signals to our brain about the sting. The interesting aspect here is that technically our blood clots as soon as a mosquito bites us, but the chemical compounds in the mosquito saliva dissolves the clot and allows the mosquito to suck blood until we kill it or shoo it away.

Mosquito bites don’t leave without a bit of swelling and a burning sensation. Things get worse when these bitten areas turn into a viable path for infectious diseases. Applying heat on the area brings down swelling and numbs the pain.
If pus-forms or if you’re having an allergic reaction, paired with high temperature, please consult UR doctor immediately.

Think before preferring coils and mosquito repellents
Mosquito coils have been in use in most countries of South Asia, Africa and South America. They are generally considered an excellent way to get rid of the insect. Some studies have suggested that coils harmful chemicals and can affect humans when used in closed spaces, same is the case with mosquito repellents. Side effects such as eye irritation, headaches and frequent allergic rhinitis are reported in children and babies. As far as the adults are concerned, the DEET (diethyltoluamide, mosquito repellent) present in the repellents is safe only when used according to the instructions.

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Unknown facts about mosquitoes

  • People with fair skin tend to have a stronger reaction to a mosquito bite. The histamine released by our bodies in response to mosquito saliva tends to be stronger in individuals with lighter skin
  • The Greek name for mosquito is Anopheles, which means ‘Good for nothing’
  • Mosquitoes bite people with ‘O’ type blood groups nearly twice as often as those with other blood groups.
  • Mosquito repellents work by hiding you. They block mosquito sensors, so they don’t know you are there.
  • Only female mosquito feast on human blood before laying eggs
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide found in human breath and sweat. They are equipped to sense the heat and humidity that surrounds our bodies.

The life cycle of a mosquito
The mosquito experiences four particular phases of its life cycle. Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult. Every stage can be recognized by its appearance.

Eggs are laid on the inner, wet walls of containers with water, over the waterline.Mosquitoes usually lay 100 eggs at a time. The eggs are exceptionally solid; adhere to the walls of a container like glue and can survive severe conditions for up to 8 months. It takes a minimal quantity of water. Bowls, cups, tires, barrels, jars and any vessel storing water makes for an extraordinary “nursery.”

Larva rises out of mosquito eggs, only after the water level ascents to cover the eggs. This implies that rainwater or people adding water to containers with eggs will trigger the larvae to develop. Generally, eggs hatch into larvae within 48 hrs. After shedding subsequently 3 times, the larva changes into a pupa.

The pupa is a resting stage and the time where it develops into an adult. After development, the pupal skin splits, and the adult flying mosquito emerges.

Adult mosquitoes rest on the water surface for a few minutes to harden all its body parts. Female mosquitoes need to feed on humans and animals for blood to produce eggs. After mating, female mosquitoes will look after water sources to lay more eggs.

It takes approximately 8-10 days for the entire life cycle, from an egg to death.

Considering quarantine, limited movement and budget here is what you can do to prevent mosquitoes at home.

  • Unclogging the rooftop
  • Emptying any children’s pools
  • Changing the water in any water basins week after week
  • Ensuring rain water isn’t collecting in waste can tops
  • Put away boxes or unused containers. Store them upside down

I recently met Mr.Patrick Firmenich, Chairman of the world’s largest privately owned perfume and taste company, Firmenich. He told us how they were working with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fight mosquito borne diseases. Malaria is a disease that could be eradicated completely. If I understood right, they were working on releasing a scent into the world that could stop mosquitoes from smelling and getting attracted to human beings. If mosquitoes couldn’t smell or recognize us, the chance of them biting could be very minimal.

These organizations are striving to develop data-based, scientific tools to deal with the world wide mosquito outbreak. .

Till date, an estimated amount of US$2.9 billion, grants were spent to eradicate malaria around the globe.