It starts with one bite. Then, one hundred. Soon, one thousand. Now a swarm of one million bloodsucking mosquitoes descends on you. Why is your blood their favorite snack?
What would happen to your body if they bit you again and again? Could they eventually suck you completely dry?
If you’ve ever been in tall grassy areas or near standing water, you’ve experienced the relentless buzzing and biting of mosquitoes. But you might not know that there are 3,500 species. And only a couple hundred drink human blood.
Only females bite. That’s because they need a tasty blood meal before they can lay their eggs. Mosquitoes are surprisingly picky too. They prefer men, pregnant women and people who are overweight.
But perhaps their favorite victims are people of a certain blood type. They are almost twice as likely to land on someone with type O blood. So if you fit that criteria, congrats. One million tiny insects could be dining on you. Tonight.
When the first mosquito lands and takes a bite, you would likely not feel a thing. That’s because her proboscis is very sharp and thin. And, left alone, she would feed on you until she’s full.
An Asian tiger mosquito, for example, would drink approximately 0.005 ml (.0002 oz) of blood. That’s the volume of a single mustard seed. What you would notice is the itchy, red swelling around the bite. Otherwise known as Skeeter syndrome.
This is your body’s allergic response to an anticoagulant in the mosquito’s saliva. It prevents your blood from clotting so the mosquito can get every last drop. If you were unlucky, you could have other allergic reactions like lesions, bruises or swelling in the throat.
A handful of bites doesn’t sound too bad. But how about 90,000? At this point, you would lose approximately 0.45 L (16 oz) of blood. If you’re an avid blood donor, you’re used to this.
Though you would have a headache and feel dizzy, nauseous and physically weak. You have about 1.75 sq m (19 sq ft) of skin. And taking on 90,000 mosquito bites would be a lot. You would be bitten over five times for every 1 sq cm (0.15 sq in) of your body.
That includes your more delicate areas, if you know what I mean. And your nightmare wouldn’t end there. If 220,000 mosquitoes bit you, that would be about 13 bites per 1 sq cm (0.15 sq in).
You would lose 20% of your blood. And now, your body would go into hypovolemic shock. You would have major organ failure as your heart loses the pressure needed to circulate your blood. You would become pale, confused and weak. You could even slip into a coma.
If one million mosquitoes bit you, all 5.5 L (186 oz) of blood would be drained from your body. Each sq cm (0.15 sq in) would be bitten over 62 times. That means you would be a raw, bloody, dead mess.
- “14 Not-So-Fun Facts About Mosquitoes”. Sarah Zielinski. Smithsonian Magazine.
- “RAID® – SC Johnson®”. 2021. raid.com.
- “Here’s how many mosquito bites it would take to drain all of your blood”. Sean, Kane. 2021. Business Insider.
- “Mosquito Bite Allergies: Symptoms And Treatment”. 2021. Healthline.
- “Where Do Mosquitoes Live?”. Mosquito Control | Mosquito Joe | Eliminate Mosquitos. Joe, Mosquito. 2021.
- “Mosquitoes evolved to suck human blood when they couldn’t find water”. Marshall, Michael. 2021. New Scientist.