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National Mosquito day is this Friday!
By: Lauren, Assistant Manager of Animal Collections at the Insectarium
While getting my degree and training in zoology I was fortunate enough to be able to travel quite a bit to see animals in their native ecosystems. This means that I was able to wander about in various deserts and rainforests. One of the banes of my existence when wandering about aimlessly in exotic settings was the constant annoyance of mosquitoes.
Ironically, for someone who chose a profession that would include exposure to such things – I am VERY sensitive to insect bites. I have friends that complain about an irritating bump that lasts hours whereas if I am bitten, I will likely have a quarter sized bump that lasts for nearly a week. This all means that before I go traipsing about in the swamp I always go and get a nice supply of bug spray to thoroughly douse myself with.
One would think that my constant battle with mosquitoes would leave me with a distaste for the species in general, however, that isn’t entirely true. Though I am not fond of being fed upon, I also know that mosquitoes play an integral part in the ecosystem as a whole.
Mosquitoes are best known for biting us for our blood but in reality it is only the females who do that and even then they only do it so that they can create eggs for the next generation. Males never harm anyone but rather feed solely upon nectar and are even responsible for pollinating some plants like the bog orchid, Habenaria obtusata. As young and adults they also serve as an important food source. The larval stage that lives in water feeds small fish and adults are prey for other insects as well as birds, frogs, and bats. During a rather prolific year when it was rather wet in Texas, a bloom of mosquitoes led to a similar increase in the spider population and the creation of an enormous, beautiful web (you can see a picture of part of the web HERE). Every animal has a place in the ecosystem and mosquitoes are no exception. Thre are lots of misconceptions about these little guys and that is why we are going to be celebrating Mosquito Day here at the Insectarium this Friday, August 20th. In preparation for that event I will be posting some more information on these tiny terrors but I hope that people will be able to make there way down here for the celebration of the event so that they can join in the festivities.
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