It’s dark, nay… an almost pitch-black
summer night, your windows are open, a breeze is blowing…and a fiendish
criminal is sneaking into your room. His plan is simple: to drink all the
blood from your slumbering form. He silently approaches you, his target,
preparing to take the first sip of that crimson elixir… when suddenly
the lights are turned on, illuminating the room. You – his prey – have
woken up, and glare straight into the eyes of this inhuman villain. But
wait! It’s just a mosquito. And he can’t do this all alone. To drink all of
the blood from a human, he’s going to need some friends to help him out. The
only question is… just how many of friends does the diabolical mosquito
need? Does the world even have enough mosquitoes to drain all of the
blood from a single human being?
At first, let’s figure out what motivates these tiny, vampiric criminals.
Mosquitoes often feed not only on blood, but also on water and nectar.
But, just as with humans, their lives radically change when a strong
feeling of… love appears. Female mosquitoes meet their “soulmate” just
3 days after being born. But on that note, their luck ends. Sadly, similar
to what sometimes happens with humans, after this glorious “night of
love” the male flies away, and the female is forced to find food for herself
and her future children on her own. And like any mother to be, she
needs to supplement her diet with extra vitamins and trace elements. But
more than anything else she needs protein, protein to help nourish her
unborn offspring. It’s here where human blood comes to the rescue.
These future mothers drink human blood for one simple reason: the
protein they derive from it. They digest our human blood for 2 to 3 days,
whereupon they then lay their eggs in a convenient reservoir of water.
The mother invests much in this endeavor, often even dying when giving
birth. Remarkably, as it turns out, a single mosquito needs your blood
only once in its entire life! And that is simply for the sake of her children.
Interestingly, “urban adapted” mosquitos don’t need your blood at all!
This species has evolved for life in our cities and receives all its vital
nutrients from the water in, for example, our basements. Is it difficult to
imagine that these cute – seemingly harmless – little creatures could drink all of the blood from a human being?
Scientists from the University of Cincinnati say that you shouldn’t drop
your guard so fast. They discovered that mosquitoes desire and drink
even more human blood if they are lacking in water. And, according
to the study, when the temperature goes above 77ºF – or 25ºС – 30%
of the females go on a second, more intensive nutrition-related search
operation, become much more aggressive. So, during a drought, we
risk becoming victims of hordes of rabid and hostile pregnant mosquitoes.
Certainly not a reassuring fact, especially if we take recent
global warming into account. And what if the males also suddenly wanted
human blood due to higher temperatures? In that turned out to be the
case, the possibility of dying from mosquitos stealing all of our blood doesn’t
seem so far-fetched and crazy as before.
Scientists at the University of California decided to check what would
happen if male mosquitoes also drank human blood. They divided the
men into three groups: the first group was given only sugar to eat, the
second – sugar and blood, and the third – only blood. Those male
mosquitoes eating the “sweet” sugar-only diet lived a happy and long
mosquito life of 28 days. The males who ate or drank a mixture of blood
and sugar, enjoyed sunrises and sunsets for no longer than 7 days. And
those who drank only blood lived bright lives, but alas even briefer, from
but 3 to 5 days before their short lives winked out. So, our human blood
will kill a male mosquito. But this doesn’t mean he will not drink it. The
same scientists continued with the experiment, this tie giving the insects
a choice: blood or sugary sweet syrup. Half of them chose the blood. So,
in the end, 50% of male mosquitoes will still bite you to get a taste of the
red stuff they so crave! Add in some aggressive, pregnant females and
we’ll have a real gang of thieves, ready to drink every last drop of the
sweet liquid pumping through your veins. And don’t expect these thieves
and hooligans to fail in pursuit of this juicy loot… At least, that is,
according to team of researchers from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, who
discovered just how much these malicious, bloodthirsty brutes are
capable of… The main thing revealed by these Parisian
scientists was the amazing flexibility of the mosquito’s proboscis…the
skin-piercing and blood- sucking mouth-like protuberance that extend
from the mosquito’s face. According to the researchers, the proboscis
only happens to look hard and unbending like a needle. When the mosquito
pierces your skin, it doesn’t even know exactly where your blood
vessels are located. The flexible proboscis is actually six separate,
thin, needle-like mouthparts, each of which pierces the skin, searching
in your flesh, allowing these tiny vampires to prospect for blood until
they finally hit pay dirt. And the tentacle-like organs at the end of this “elastic
needle” don’t leave you a single chance – you can be sure the mosquito
will get what it wants sooner or later. And
when it finally finds a blood vessel, it will literally feast on your protein
rich red juice for no less than an 4 entire minutes.
But wait a second… are we really so inattentive that we cannot
feel the foreign intrusion of this blood sucking proboscis into our bodies
for a whole 240 seconds? Well yes…and this is due to the utter cunning
and deviousness of these tiny bloodsuckers. Even at the first stage
of just probing your skin, the mosquito plants its saliva in you. This prevents
inflammation. And if there is no inflammation – there are no disturbing
signals from your body to warn of this attack and penetration. Moreover,
mosquito saliva keeps blood vessels from constricting, and blood
from coagulating, so the blood just keeps on flowing at full steam.
All of this turns a simple bite into a gala feast for this unholy, demonic
insect. But again, we must ask: how long would it take for one of these thieves
to suck out all of a person’s blood… down to the very last
drop? According to one Dr. Daniel Landau from the
University of Florida, an adult has about 1.5 gallons, or 5.7 liters
of blood. Imagining a mosquito drinking so much at one go is difficult…okay,
yeah, it’s impossible, obviously. But the trick is that these tiny
bloodsuckers dont have to drink all of our blood in order to harm us.
There is a good reason why doctors don’t take more than 450 ml or 15
ounces of blood from donors. This is about 8-10% percent of the total
volume in our body, and taking more gets into dangerous territory.
According to the American College of Surgeons, if you lose 15% of your blood, you will begin to feel some negative side effects, such as
a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing, and mild nausea. Vampires suck
about this much blood from their victims if they plan on keeping them
alive, or turning them. At least thats what some students of physics from Leicester
University say. They figure that if a vampire does not plan to
kill a person, but simply wants to have a little bite, as it were, he will need
around 6 minutes for his snack. In this situation it’s important for the
bloodsucker to feel satiated at 15%. As if a person loses 20% of their blood, something
called hemorrhagic shock begins. This is a condition in which
– if it were you – you pulse would weaken considerably, your skin would
turn deathly pale, and you will likely faint. And when 40% of your blood
is lost, you die. Death from bleeding out comes very rapidly – even faster
than from a vampire bite. Literally in just 4 to 5 minutes. The cause
may be due to an injury from an accident, being stabbed or cut with a knife,
or from a mosquito bite. After all, if you remember, the duration of
a bite is roughly 4 minutes. So the question is, how many mosquitoes need
to start drinking at the same time to induce a fatal outcome? How many mosquitoes
are needed to suck us to death?
Actually, there are more than 3,500 different species of mosquitoes – and
all of them come in different sizes, have diverse appetites, and possess
a variety of distinctive temperaments. So, let’s suppose that you are not
very lucky and you’ve stumbled upon the most aggressive and largest of
all species – the Asian tiger mosquito. It’s hungry females drink 5 microliters per bite.
So, for this species, to drink all the blood from one average adult, 1,100,000
“tiger mosquitoes” will be required. It goes without saying…but
I’ll say it anyway, that it’s really unlikely that such a cluster could be found
in a single location. On top of that, there isn’t even enough space on the
body for all these little bloodthirsty devils. On average, a person
has about 2 square meters, or 11 square feet, of skin covering their body.
So only about 6300 of these bloodsuckers will be able to get “landing
rights”. All the rest will have to line up. And, really… have you ever seen
a line of mosquitoes? Thus, in reality, the risk of dying from mass mosquito
bite total blood-loss is almost non-existent. This is good news. The
bad news is that you can die from a single bite, from a single mosquito.
It’s little wonder then that scientists have included these insects on
the list of the most dangerous creatures on Earth.
Mosquitoes are carriers of malaria, fever, and encephalitis. Every year,
about 725,000 people die from the bites of infected mosquitoes. Most
often, these victims are residents of cities with hot and humid climates.
There, dehydrated and hungry mosquitoes are especially cruel. But
there is no need to panic. Yes, it’s true that no one is entirely safe
from a chance meeting with these notorious, blood-sucking thieves. But
the risks can be minimized. The Journal of the American Association for
the Prevention of Mosquitoes has reported that the main way
you attract mosquitoes to you is when there is too much carbon dioxide
in and around your body. For example, if you exercise in the outdoors
and sweat a lot. Or if you drink beer on a hot summer day. To avoid becoming
a victim of mosquitoes, simply apply special protective
chemical agents, or even just eucalyptus oil. Mosquitos hate the stuff!
Researchers claim that these simple preventive measures will discourage
even the hungriest females from trying to bite you!
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