How much do you really know about our “state bird” – the ever-annoying and potentially dangerous mosquito?
There it is again. That constant hum by our ears as we gather for an evening in the back yard. It’s a point of pride for many Minnesotans, even as we complain and compare bite marks as if they were battle scars.
Mosquitoes are worthy adversaries, often striking before being detected, their saliva numbing the skin before biting. They’re greedy, capable of drinking twice their weight in blood. And they’re great breeders — one mosquito lays hundreds of eggs at a time.
But the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District is on the front lines, destroying larvae before the babies can grow into adulthood. This offensive typically cuts down the metro’s mosquito population by 75 percent, said Mike McLean, a spokesman for the district. Still, a soggy early summer has produced a bumper crop.
We enlisted the help of McLean and vector ecologist Kirk Johnson to gauge our knowledge of this common foe. From mosquito behavior to skeeter defense to bite remedies, take our myth-busting quiz to better arm yourself this summer. Check the answers on the next page.
TRUE OR FALSE?
1. Mosquito season ends in July.
2. Mosquitoes find some people tastier than others.
3. Mosquitoes have a specific appetite for beer drinkers.
4. Both male and female mosquitoes like to bite.
5. Pressing down on a bite with your fingernail to make an “X” will stop the itching.
6. To avoid getting bitten, run away as fast as you can.
7. Mosquitoes are morning people.
8. Mosquitoes can’t fly very far.
9. Mosquitoes tend to swarm their victims.
10. Minnesota is home to only a few species of mosquitoes.
11. Wearing light-colored clothes is a sure way to attract mosquitoes.
12. A mosquito bite can be fatal.
13. Like vampires, garlic keeps these little bloodsuckers away.
14. A dollop of toothpaste takes the itch out of a bite.
15. Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a bite relieves the itch.
16. Mosquito-repellent clothes don’t work.
17. Bug zappers kill mosquitoes.
18. Rubbing basil on your skin works both to repel mosquitoes and soothe a bite.
19. Handheld electronic anti-itch devices work.
20. Mosquitoes only live a few days.