The weather warms up and we find ourselves dreading the coming of female mosquitoes. But what about male mosquitoes? How do they play a factor?
Male mosquitoes soul purpose in life is to mate with females. Males can seek out female mosquitoes to mate with by listening to the sounds of their wings, which beat 500 times per second. In a male mosquitoes short 1-2 week lifespan, they feed on nectar and water. Females do this as well, but their main meal comes from animal and human hosts, as we all unfortunately know. Females will only drink blood after they have mated with a male. This makes sense since they need the protein and iron from hosts blood to reproduce (scroll down to last weeks blog post to learn more about female mosquitoes). Without the male mosquitoes, females couldn’t mate, AKA couldn’t reproduce.
Although both are some of the smallest creatures in the animal kingdom, females are larger than males. If you look through a microscope, the male mosquitoes proboscis, or antenna’s, are long and feathery. The females proboscis is smooth, acting like a needle. This makes sense since that is what they use to cut into their hosts’ skin for blood. The hair on the males proboscis is there to help with hearing. They use it to assist them in locating their female mate. Again, the female mosquitoes wings beat at 500 times per second. That is what the male mosquito is listening for. The males proboscis does not have the ability to pierce skin. This is why they can’t feed off a host. The benefit of this is if they can’t feed off a host, they can’t spread disease.
Male Mosquitoes and Science
There are numerous studies going on in the scientific community that are trying to prevent mosquitoes from spreading the harmful diseases they do. The male mosquito is the key factor in one of these studies. These male mosquitoes will carry the Wolbachia bacterium. This bacterium will make the male mosquitoes sterile. When released into the outdoors, they will compete with wild males to mate with females. If they win, procreation will fail. The hope is to reduce mosquito populations that carry yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika virus. The fight to end mosquito-borne illnesses could be won by the help of males.