Bold Zika mosquitoes love to hang with humans


Most people would to love to wipe the mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus off the face of the Earth.

But fighting these nasty little biters — a species called Aedes aegypti — is harder than most people imagine, experts say. USA TODAY’s Liz Szabo talked to mosquito control experts to find out why this species is such a formidable foe.

Q. What makes these mosquitoes different?

A. They love humans — but not in a good way.

Like the dog, the Aedes aegypti has evolved to live among people. Yet while dogs seek human approval, and willingly work for us, the mosquitoes that spread Zika simply want our blood.

Although the Aedes aegypti originated in jungles, breeding in tree holes or in water that collected in leaves, it now thrives in our homes, according to the World Health Organization.

“It’s a domestic mosquito,” said biologist Laura Harrington,  professor and chairwoman of the entomology department at Cornell University in New York.  “You won’t find it in places without humans.”

Female mosquitoes need the protein and other nutrients in blood to make eggs.

The Aedes aegypti produces more eggs and lives longer after dining on our blood than when they feed on other animals.

All mosquitoes release a numbing substance in their saliva, so that people don’t feel them bite, Harrington said. They also release chemicals that prevent blood from clotting, so that they can suck longer.



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