Monday, August 2, 2021

Whole lotta Mosquitoes and a couple of fish

Week 4 was a fun week overall. The visit to the aquarium was real fun, and there were a whole bunch of fun animals to find along the East Boston coastline. My most noteworthy memory from the week, however, was of the sheer number of mosquitoes that bit me during our visit to Belle Isle Marsh. What was most interesting (and somewhat traumatic) about the experience was how mosquitoes preferred to swarm around me, instead of my groupmates. This prompted me to do some further research into why they bite people, as well as how they identify and locate people to bite.

Here's a quick rundown of what I learned:
- Only female mosquitoes actually bite people, because they use the nutrients, protein, and iron in blood to lay eggs.
- The itchy welt caused by a mosquito bite is actually a localized allergic reaction to the mosquito's saliva, which they use to prevent blood clots. Like any other allergic reaction, some people have more serious reactions to mosquito bites, such as people with Skeeter syndrome.
- Mosquitoes locate their targets through the detection of carbon dioxide and certain organic chemicals. 
- High metabolism causes people to exhale more carbon dioxide. Your genetics determine the concentration of "attractive" chemicals in your sweat and on your skin, while your body heat affects how fast these chemicals evaporate and travel through the air. 

All these and more are contributing factors to how mosquitos choose who to bite, and I've learned how and why I can drench myself in bug spray, and still get swarmed by mosquitoes from every direction. The truth is that I'm a mosquito magnet for unshakable genetic and physiological factors, and I'm not sure whether this is something I can take comfort in, or whether it's a cause for even more panic. As of now, I can only hope that I never have to step foot in another marsh ever again.


Me at the Marsh, covered in mosquitoes
Celebrating my escape from the Marsh by picking up a crab

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