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Mosquito eggs develop with the help of our blood

We almost had to abort a recent family outing to the Sky Lakes Wilderness, the mosquitoes were so bad. The subject came up that only the female mosquitoes bite. Does anybody know why this is?

— Lou P., Medford

First of all, Lou, the bug geeks here at the Since You Asked Institute of Entomology claim there's no such thing as bad mosquitoes, just misunderstood ones.

Male mosquitoes spend the bulk of their lives (about a week) peacefully sucking up nectar for the sugar. They get together around dusk in large swarms, and mating occurs when a female decides to fly into the swarm.

OK, it sounds cold, but you're anthropomorphizing here. To a female mosquito it might be the height of romance.

The females, as you have observed, consume not only sugar but, yes, suck your blood. But they're not doing it for themselves. It's for the protein and iron that enables their teeny-weeny eggs to develop.

After doing her Dracula number, the female takes it easy for a few days to digest the blood and let the eggs grow. She might repeat this cycle more than once before she dies, usually at the age of a week or two.

Many mosquitoes believe in a life after death. In mosquito heaven, the streets are paved with soft human flesh, and everybody worships Bela Lugosi. Mosquito hell is surrounded by a river of DEET and is slapped over and over, forever, by a giant hand.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.