Do Mosquitoes Get Drunk After Biting Intoxicated People?

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“The implications [of this question] are… profound,” says entomologist Michael Raupp. “Reckless flying, passing out in frosty beer mugs, hitting on crane flies instead of mosquito babes. Frightening!” Still, no major studies have been conducted to determine if mosquitoes get hammered—or even woozy—after ingesting human blood with a higher-than-normal alcohol concentration.

We do, however, know there’s at least one common bloodsucker that definitely can’t hold its Guinness. In 1994, Norwegian scientists Anders Baerheim and Hogne Sandvik wondered how potent beer might affect “the appetite of leeches.” “Six leeches,” the pair reported after their ensuing experiment, [PDF] “were dipped briefly in two different types of beer (Guinness or Hansa Bock) or in water (control) before being placed on the forearm of one of us… After exposure to beer, some of the leeches changed behavior, swaying their forebodies, losing grip, or falling on their backs.”

And keep an eye on that Honey Nut Cheerios bee! Inebriated honeybees can get so “buzzed” that they’ll lose their ability to stand upright or start crashing into things while flying under the influence:  

So, what about skeeters? Could a horde of boozy blood-eaters be angrily swarming over your neighbor’s outdoor kegger party?

Well, many mosquito species also dine on fruits, including those with a tendency to ferment. They’ve therefore likely evolved a respectable tolerance for all-natural alcohol. 

In fact, beer-drinkers might actually be walking mosquito magnets. “Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to insects,” writes Smithsonian blogger Joseph Stromberg. Researchers aren’t quite sure why downing cold ones makes people more susceptible to winged pest attacks, but warn that individuals “drinking alcohol should be careful about their increased risk to mosquito bites and … exposure to mosquito-borne diseases.” Now there’s a nice summery thought.

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July 30, 2014 - 9:30am
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