Jim Ingebrigtsen

In the previous edition of Lifestyles 55, I told you about the troubling traits of ticks. I thought I’d continue sharing some information on another particularly irritating insect, the maddening mosquito. But make no mistake about it, these teeny tiny blood-sucking insects are considered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to be the “world’s deadliest animal”.

Some scientists believe mosquitoes have been around for more than 200 million years. Over the past 200,000 years, 108 billion people have walked on this planet and about 52 billion people have died as a result of being infected by mosquitoes. Close to a million deaths still occur each year because of various infections. The ones we’re most familiar with are malaria and closer to home, West Nile virus. Mosquitoes have killed more humans than all the wars in history.

There are more than 3,000 species in the world of which only a couple hundred feed on human blood. About 175 of them are found in the United States. Canada claims 82 species and we have around 39 in Winnipeg. Komarno, Manitoba boasts the largest species in Canada. It is considered the Mosquito Capital of Canada.


The average mosquito lives less than two months. Males live 10 days or less while females can live up to eight weeks. They only need an inch of water to lay their eggs. Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. Females will lay eggs up to three times before they die. Usually, the eggs are deposited in clusters on the surface of stagnant water. Only females bite. The female needs blood to help her eggs develop. Both males and females feed mainly on fruit and plant nectar. 

Mosquitoes love sweaty people. Our skin produces more than 340 chemical odors and mosquitoes find some of them very appealing. They also seem to like smelly feet. 

These little critters can detect our breath (carbon dioxide) from 75 feet away. The saddest fact of all, for me, is they are also very attracted to people who drink beer.

A full moon, believe it or not, can increase mosquito activity by 500%. They rely on sight to find their next meal so when it’s brighter outside … it’s time to eat. Finally, they prefer darker environs to relax and digest their meals. So lighter clothing is best while you’re out and about.

Maybe we should follow a favourite Finnish summertime sport. It’s mosquito squashing. The winner is the person who can swat the most mosquitoes in five minutes. The record is currently 21. I think we can beat that. Let’s organize a bunch of Swat Teams and raise some money for charity. Or, maybe a case of insect repellent.

Have a great rest of the summer.

Jim was a writer-broadcaster, producer and presenter on television and radio for 40 years. He is also a podcast host on Lifestyles 55 Digital Radio. Find Radio Redux, Mid-Century Memories and many others at www.whatsupwinnipeg.ca then click on lifestyles55 digital radio and find the app.