Mosquitos are Pests, but with a Place in Nature

Mar 20, 2018

According to Clemson University biologist Peter Adler, two thirds of the approximately 60 mosquito species in South Carolina don't bite humans. This Aisian Tiger mosquito, however, does.
Credit James Gathany, US Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Mosquitos are among nature’s biggest pests.  Their bites itch, they’re annoying and they can carry diseases.  But surprisingly, says Clemson professor Peter Adler, of the approximately 60 mosquito species that inhabit South Carolina, two-thirds of them DON’T bite humans.  Some are adapted to reptiles, others to birds, and some don’t feed on blood at all.  Of those that do, different things about people attract them:  size, the amount of carbon dioxide they produce, even blood type!  (Type A, you’re lucky.  You’re their least favorite.  Type O, sorry about that.  They love you.)

According to DHEC epidemiologist Dr. Melissa Overman, preventing bites is the best way to deal with pesky mosquitos.  Use DEET-containing bug sprays when you’re outdoors, and long sleeves are helpful, she says.  Perhaps the best prevention is emptying all outdoor containers of standing water, which mosquitos love to breed in.  Adler says even though they seem to be bad critters, mosquitos actually have their place in nature, because they serve as food for many creatures, such as frogs, birds and bats.  Nothing will completely eliminate them, adds Overman, but with DEET and smart outdoor practices, their annoyance can be kept to a minimum.