Defying the Deadly Sting

By Elaine Marie Alphin


     B-z-z-z-z-z-z-There it is again—an annoying mosquito that's determined to suck your blood. Are you ready to give in and let her land? If you do she'll first slice through your skin with two saw-like lancets. Then she'll bury a long, hollow lancet into your bloodstream. She injects an anticoagulant to keep your blood flowing. After that she uses two powerful pumps (one at the base of the lancets and the other inside her chest cavity) to suck up the blood she needs in order to feed her eggs.
     That's right—feeding one mother mosquito means breeding a whole new generation of mosquitoes who are starving for a taste of your blood! Or you can decide to swat back. If you battle the mosquito to her death, you become one of the most triumphant conquerors since Alexander the Great. Actually, you'll be even greater, since Alexander himself was bitten in 323 B.C. by a mosquito carrying malaria. That bite killed him.
     Mosquito bites have killed more animals and people in the last 200 million years than any single species or weapon. Back in 500 B.C., an Indian priest made the connection between mosquitoes and malaria. Unfortunately, no one believed him for over two thousand years. As late as the 1950's, mosquito-carried malaria killed one person in the tropics every 10 seconds.