Tropical Mosquitoes are in the same scientific order as house flies, but they have very different life history traits. There are around 3,100 different species of mosquito, which all live near water, mainly in warmer regions.
Mosquitoes are regarded as the most dangerous animal on the planet because of the infamous Anopheles mosquitoes that transmits malaria, the deadliest disease in human history.
Distribution and Life History
Occurring on all continents except Antarctica, mosquitoes are recognized worldwide and are one of the most resented animals. The males, recognised by bushy antennae, are harmless and feed solely on nectar. The females on the other hand seek out vertebrate blood for egg development.
Mosquitoes have elongate mouthparts that form the well known blood-sucking proboscis. The adults usually rest during the daylight hours in humid areas and commence flight activity at sundown, but there are always exceptions. The larvae are all aquatic, which is why the adults are tied to areas with water.
Health in the Tropics
Please consult your personal G.P or travel medical professional before undertaking any trips to the tropics. Tropical environments are home to a variety of pathogens that cause different diseases.
In the Amazon Rainforest, the main mosquito carried diseases are dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever. Both yellow fever and malaria require preventative medication. There is no preventative medication available for dengue fever, but the disease has a limit on growth and almost all infected individuals have complete recovery.
As these pathogens are carried by mosquitoes, the best thing is to prevent bites, which is easier said than done in the tropics. On the other hand, you can reduce the amount of bites considerably and greatly reduce the probability of a bite leading to an infection.
Suggestions on Minimizing Bites
Suggestions to minimize mosquito bites are to wear long sleeved, loose fitting clothing, and always wear and carry insect repellent designed for the tropics. Always sleep under a mosquito net. Remember to ensure the net reaches the floor or is sufficiently secured so there are no gaps.
If you plan to camp in the rainforest, line your mosquito net with clothing entirely around the perimeter, as mosquitoes will constantly be trying to gain entry anywhere they can. Mosquitoes are more active during the night and less likely to bite you if you are moving. For other suggestions, see our article on what to take to the Amazon Rainforest.