I love mosquitoes. Yes, you read that right. Mosquitoes have always fascinated me, from the time I was a kid. I mean, every person on Earth wants to drive mosquitoes to extinction. But mosquitoes aren’t just still around — they’re prospering. How do they do it?
I’ve done various experiments in my own yard. I’ve come up with many theories, unscientific as they might be, and I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two from my studies.
For starters, a mosquito missing two of it’s six legs can function just as well as mosquito with all of them. How do I know this? From counting the legs of mosquitoes who bit me, and by carefully tearing the legs off the mosquitoes with all six. Losing a limb doesn’t even slow them down.
The lesson? Go for the wings, not the legs. Or just squash the insect — that works too.
Mosquitoes evolve fast, much faster than humans. A subspecies of mosquito has been discovered in the New York subways — it lives in the subway tunnels and only in the subway tunnels. A new subspecies — that’s huge.
I think I may have discovered a new subspecies myself — though, not being a scientist, I may be wrong. See, theres a forest near my house. I often go for walks there. There are no paved paths, and it’s not unusual to run into a herd of deer, or an angry moose. The shadiest part of the forest is close to a pond.
Mosquitoes love shady areas. They also love ponds. But one of the mosquitoes there wasn’t like the ones I usually saw — it was huge, by mosquito standards, and incredibly slow — a blow any other mosquito could’ve dodged squashed this dude flat.
It was later that I noticed the swelling on my ankle. What looked — and felt — like a giant mosquito bite, two inches square. I’d never had an insect bite that bad before. I thought of the mosquito I had squashed in the forest. Was it possible another one, just as big, had caused this bite.
It took several days for the swelling to go down. I soon figured out that the giant mosquitoes could only be found in the forest, the place where I’d been walking when I got the bite. Could it be that one of these giant mosquitoes was responsible for the swelling on my ankle?
To test the theory, I let one of the giant mosquitoes bite me. Not a long bite — the mosquito only got a few seconds before it was interrupted. The bite did swell up, and it was unusually large, but no where near the size of the one on my ankle.
What if the amount of time was a factor? A bite that only took several seconds might swell up less than a bite that took an entire minute.
I came up with a plan to find out. I went back to the forest, and waited for a giant mosquito to land. I didn’t squash it, even though it would have been easy. I let it take what I call a ‘full bite’ — as in, when the mosquito finally flew off, it was because it was full of blood, not because it was disturbed.
I’d let the normal mosquitoes give me full bites before. They’d been slightly larger than normal, and slightly itchier as well, so I knew the length of the bite had something to do with it.
The giant mosquito’s bite grew. Within a few hours, it was the size of the largest normal mosquito bites. By the next day, it was two inches square, itchy and raw. Like the first bite, it lasted for several days. I came to two occlusions from this experiment: 1), the giant mosquitoes were responsible for the giant bites and 2) I was never doing another experiment this stupid again — not with the half week of itchiness that followed.
By this time, I was certain that the giant mosquitoes were a separate sub-species. So, being very scientific, I decided to give them a proper sub-species name: ‘beaters’. If I ever discovered another sub-species, I’d call them either ‘chasers’ or ‘keepers’. What can I say? I love Harry Potter.
I have several theories about beaters that I am currently unable to prove.
For starters, their size. It slowed the beaters down, to the point they couldn’t dodge a human. They were easy to spot and squash. How could any species survive like that?
Well, what if it was the forest — or, more specifically, the animals that lived there? Not many humans went to that part of the forest.
But there were deer and moose — I often found their prints along the path. It would make sense if these were the beater’s prey. Deer and moose can’t easily slap a mosquito that lands on them.
Maybe a bigger proboscis helped beaters get through the animals fur? Did it help them carry blood? Or was it just that, with deer and moose as their main victims, there was no reason for the beaters not to be big?
Mosquitoes are horrible. They’re also amazing. The next time I see one, I’m killing it.