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What's a Mosquito?

A mosquito (say: mus-KEE-toe) is an insect that is found all over the world. There are thousands of different kinds of mosquitoes in many different sizes and colors.

The female mosquito needs blood from vertebrates (animals that have a spine) to lay eggs and produce more mosquitoes. She has a special part of her mouth that she uses to suck blood, and her saliva (spit) thins the blood so she can drink it. In fact, it's the mosquito's saliva that makes the bites itch!

mosquito bite illustration

What a Bite Looks and Feels Like

A person who gets bitten by a mosquito will notice a round pink or red bump that itches a lot.

What You Should Do

If you think you've been bitten by a mosquito, wash the bite with soap and water. Put on some calamine lotion to help stop the itching, or an adult can find an anti-itch cream at the drugstore for you. Placing an ice pack on the bite may also help. Tell an adult you've been bitten by a mosquito, especially if you live in the eastern United States.

What a Doctor Will Do

It's very unusual for someone to have an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite. But if you develop an allergic reaction and feel dizzy or sick, tell an adult immediately. A doctor can treat allergic reactions with medicines.

How to Avoid Getting Bitten

The best way to avoid mosquito bites is to wear an insect repellent. Repellents that include one of these ingredients are best: 10% to 30% DEET, lemon eucalyptus, or picaridin. Ask a parent to help you apply them.

Since mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, it's also a good idea to empty out buckets, flower pots, toys, and other things in your yard that may have collected water during a rainstorm. And when it's possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: April 2013

 
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