Why Do Mosquitoes Need Blood?

Up close of a mosquito sucking blood from a person


Do vampires really exist? Nasty bloodsuckers who prey on innocent humans? Sounds a lot like mosquitoes! These flying blood bandits are always on the hunt for their next meal. But why do mosquitoes need blood? Keep reading to discover the real reason these vampires long to drink your blood for dinner.

Which Mosquito Sucks Blood?

Why do mosquitoes need blood? Only female mosquitoes drink the blood of humans and animals. The blood meal is essential for growing the eggs of the next generation of mosquitoes. Our blood is an excellent source of the proteins, amino acids, and iron needed for mosquito eggs and hatchlings. Most female mosquitoes hunt for their meals in the early morning and sunset hours, preferring to shelter during the heat of the day. At all other times, they feed on nectar and plant sap, which is what the male mosquitoes eat.

So, why do mosquitoes suck blood? They require it for reproduction. That’s why only female mosquitoes need blood. The mosquito who bites you today does so to ensure there will be future generations of little bloodsuckers doing the same thing. Yuck!

Male mosquitoes are vegetarian, restricting their meals to nectar from flowers. When not binging on blood, female mosquitoes, too, visit flowers for their nectar. In fact, mosquitoes are valuable pollinators for some marsh and bog plants like the blunt-leaf orchid (Platanthera obtusata).

Blood: It’s More Nutritious Than You Ever Knew

Why do mosquitoes suck blood? The answer is pretty straightforward. For a mosquito, it’s a literal life-or-death situation, generationally speaking. Blood is full of essential nutrients for mosquitoes, namely iron, proteins, and other amino acids. Mosquitoes can’t get these vital nutrients from any other source. And without a blood-rich diet, the circle of life for mosquitoes would cease entirely. (Wouldn’t that be sad?)

What Do Mosquitoes Do with Blood?

Up close of a mosquito sucking blood of a human with green background We know why mosquitoes need blood. Female mosquitoes require the building blocks of blood to grow and lay their eggs. That’s why only females need blood in their diet. The average female mosquito lays about 100 eggs at a time, and most produce ten broods on average in their lifetime. Without a proper blood meal, she won’t be able to develop healthy, viable eggs after mating.

Male mosquitoes, on the other hand, do not drink blood and will leave you alone. Yes, you read that right: male mosquitoes don’t bite people or other animals. But, since you can’t tell the difference between a male and female mosquito without a microscope, there’s no way to know which one has just landed on your arm. Sorry, guys.

Human Blood: A Quick and Efficient Meal

OK, fine, so now we know why mosquitoes need blood. But do they really need our blood? Well, put yourself in the little bloodsucker’s position. If you were the spindly size of a mosquito, would you target an animal with a thick, tough hide and lots of dense fur? Or would you settle on the bare, tender skin of an unwary human? (Yeah. That’s what we thought).

Actually, most mosquitoes don’t bite humans. More than 3,500 mosquito species inhabit our world, and just 6% of the species feed on people. The rest pester a wide variety of mammals and birds; even reptiles are on the menu.

Do Mosquitoes Prefer Certain Types of Blood?

So, now that we know why mosquitoes need blood and why they like ours, what’s their favorite? Do mosquitoes prefer a certain blood type?

Although mosquitoes aren’t the pickiest eaters in the world, they do prefer some blood types more than others. Mosquitoes can smell a person’s blood type before taking a bite. Those of us with Type O blood, for instance, are a particularly tasty treat for a female mosquito. Pregnant women also seem to get more mosquito bites than other people. And anyone who sweats a lot may produce pheromones that attract mosquitoes. It’s like ringing the dinner bell for mosquitoes. Come and get me!

But even if these factors don’t apply to you, you’re still on the menu. Whenever a female mosquito feels the urge to feed, she will seek out the easiest target. Since people are often the largest mammals in their area, we are easier to bite. Mosquitoes are also attracted to humans because people emit more carbon dioxide than many other animals. Mosquitoes have a receptor that detects carbon dioxide, helping them to hunt and locate their next meal.

How Long Can a Mosquito Live Without Blood?

We know why mosquitoes need blood. But how long can mosquitoes live without blood? The truth is, they only live about three weeks, whether they have blood or not. Remember why female mosquitoes need blood: it’s for reproduction, not their own survival. They feast on our blood for the sake of their progeny. Without the all-important blood meal, mosquito reproduction suffers.

Starving a mosquito of blood doesn’t harm the individual bloodsucker, but it can slow the rate of reproduction.

Other Food Sources for Mosquitoes

We’ve established why mosquitoes need blood. Since only female mosquitoes need the nutrients found in blood, what are the needs of males? Why do they choose to feast on nectar-producing plants?

Both males and females need the glycogen and triglycerides found in sugar to produce energy. Nectar is the prime source. You’re most likely to see mosquitoes buzzing around brightly colored flowers. But they also enjoy the taste of water lettuce and other plants with high water content.

Tips to Avoid Mosquito Bites

Now that we know why mosquitoes need blood, what can we do to keep them from drinking ours? There are a number of strategies that can help you avoid being tapped by the hungry vampires of the insect world. Some are personal choices, and others are ways to adapt your environment to make it less appealing to mosquitoes.

Here are some of the best ways to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes:

  • Wear light-colored clothing made from tightly woven fabrics.
  • Cover your skin. Choose long pants, long sleeves, and a high neck.
  • Apply a mosquito repellant when heading outdoors.
  • Try planting basil, lemongrass, or mint, as mosquitoes can’t stand their smell.
  • Avoid wearing perfumes or scented products outside.
  • Light citronella candles and torches to deter mosquitoes.
  • Dump out all sources of standing water near your home.
  • Keep the yard well-tended, removing all leaf litter, tall grass, and weeds.
  • Schedule a professional barrier spray treatment with Mosquito Joe®

Protect Your Home and Family from Mosquitoes

Even though mosquito blood doesn’t exist (they have hemolymph instead), these insects are anxious to taste your red blood cells. Now you know why mosquitoes need blood: to ensure an inexhaustible supply of hungry little vampires hunting you in the future. Eek! The best way to keep your family and pets protected is to limit the population and prevent bites before they happen. That’s where Mosquito Joe® comes in.

Mosquito Joe offers proven mosquito control, including our barrier spray, misting, and eco-friendly treatments to keep your yard mosquito-free all year long. With us on your side, there is less chance of you becoming a mosquito’s next meal!

All our work is backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™, which ensures your satisfaction.
Request a free quote today!

FAQ About Mosquito Bites

Can mosquitoes survive without blood?

Yes, individual female mosquitoes — the only ones that bite and drink blood — can survive without blood. They also feed on the nectar from flowers, which supplies the food and nutrition they need. The reason why female mosquitoes need blood is not for their own survival but for their eggs. Female mosquitoes rely on iron, proteins, and other amino acids in the blood to grow their eggs and hatchlings.

Why do mosquitoes want human blood?

The reason why mosquitoes need blood is all about reproduction. They need the components of blood to produce healthy, viable eggs and hatchlings. Humans are far easier for the tiny bloodsuckers to feed from than animals with tough hides and thick coats of fur. Yet just 6% of the 3,500 species of mosquitoes prey on humans.

Is it better to let a mosquito finish?

No. The moment you see a mosquito biting you, flick it away immediately. The longer the mosquito bites, the greater the chance it can transmit diseases and germs into your body. (Yuck!) There is a strange myth circulating that allowing a mosquito to finish biting means the bite won’t itch. While this sounds like pro-mosquito propaganda from Big Bug, don’t believe it.

Is it bad to smash a mosquito while it’s biting you?

Ooohhh. It’s so tempting to just smash a biting mosquito, isn’t it? But medical experts urge caution. The blood the mosquito carries may be contaminated with diseases and germs that could infect the open wound of the bite. Instead, flick the mosquito away — hard.

Do mosquitoes prefer a certain blood type?

It turns out that mosquitoes do prefer a certain blood type — type O. Scientists do not understand why female mosquitoes prefer blood type O yet, but they’re working on it. At present, we know people with type O blood who secrete antigens in their bodily fluids like sweat and tears are highly attractive to biting mosquitoes. About 80% of people are secretors, so those with type O blood are the most likely to get bitten. O, so sorry (couldn’t resist that one).