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Author Topic: Why do mosquitoes announce their presence?  (Read 3037 times)

Offline Shane

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Why do mosquitoes announce their presence?
« on: 10/06/2009 15:30:02 »
Shane  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chris
 
Let me start by saying that you are one of my heroes, intellectually speaking. I have listened to several of your newbielink:http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/ [nonactive] but I came across you listening to Redi Direko's show in South Africa.

I am not sure if you personally read your emails so I won't go on - I have several more profound questions which perhaps I will ask some other time but for now something fun:
 
Question: Why do parasites (specifically mosquitoes) announce their presence? That high pitched whining sound and the irritant reaction to their bites is normally enough to wake me up in the middle of the night and try to hunt them down. Surely it would be better if we slept sleeping and they could sip on our blood all night?
 
thanks a lot
Shane

What do you think?


 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Why do mosquitoes announce their presence?
« Reply #1 on: 10/06/2009 17:44:20 »
Well to guess, I would say that we often hear them because they home in on us from our breath, so it's no wonder they end up near our heads, and making the high pitched noise is probably an unavoidable side-effect of flapping their wings 600 odd times per second.

But, maybe for every mosquito that you do detect, 10 more go undetected? Maybe the ones you do detect are just unlucky enough to fly near your ears or hit a nerve when they peirce your skin. If there are hundreds of mosquitos this 1 in 10 would still be enough to wake you from your sleep.

You would have to do an experiment like sticking your arm in a fish tank full of them, and without looking tell how many times you've felt being bitten, and have another person counting how many times you were actually bit.
 

Offline Shane Killeen

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Why do mosquitoes announce their presence?
« Reply #2 on: 12/06/2009 11:07:41 »
Hi all

I am going to have an attempt at answering my own question. The first is satisfactorily andswered by previous writer but I would suggest the answer to the second part of the question is that the itch reponse forces us to scratch our skin during our sleep, thereby emflaming the area, drawing the blood closer to the skin, making drinking easier. Sometimes a light sleeper will be disturbed enough to be awakened.
 

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Why do mosquitoes announce their presence?
« Reply #2 on: 12/06/2009 11:07:41 »

 

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