A meal for mosquitoes

Do you know why mosquitoes bite?

Like most insects, mosquitoes reproduce by laying eggs. It takes more energy to make eggs, which means female mosquitoes are always looking for good, nutritious meals. Unfortunately, the blood of animals, including people, fills the bill. For some mosquitoes, we're like big, sweet-smelling energy bars.

North America is home to more than 100 species of mosquitoes. In all species, only females bite, and only blood meals are converted to energy for egg production. Each bite you suffer helps spawn a new generation of mosquitoes.

While heat, movement, moisture and color all play a role, mosquito attraction is mostly about scent. Most mosquitoes home in on prey by sensing chemicals, notably carbon dioxide, which we exhale with every breath. If we could just stop breathing, we'd avoid a lot of bites.

Source: Wondertime magazine

Cube conquest

Mount Pleasant's Joshua Satterfield, 12, the Rubik's Cube phenom, was the youngest competitor to make it to the semifinals at the U.S. Open competition in Chicago on June 17.

Joshua solved the 3-by-3-by-3 cube in 19.9 seconds, improving his World Cube Association ranking to 185th for a single solve. Before, his best time was 21.59, which put him 353 on the list. He also improved his time in the 5-by-5-by-5 cube to 5:37.24 from his previous 6:11.59, moving him up 64 places in the rankings to 112th. He competed for the first time in the 2-by-2-by-2 cube competition, finishing in 14.53 seconds, making him 151st in the world; the Rubik's Master Magic, finishing in 9.85 seconds (68th in the world); and set a new American record solving the Pyraminx, a tetrahedron-shaped puzzle, in 12.17 seconds, placing him 23rd in the world.

Trouble with Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine and his train-yard friends are favorites to the point of obsession in the toddler to kindergarten set.

So recent news that 1.5 million China-made toys based on the Thomas books and animated television series have been recalled because they contain lead paint has sent shudders through parents everywhere.

RC2, the Illinois company that markets the toys, says a plant in China used lead-based red and yellow paint on pieces manufactured between January 2005 and June of this year.

Lead ingestion can cause serious neurological and developmental problems in children. No injuries have been reported, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission said parents should make sure they immediately remove the toys from their children's collections.

The recall involves wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set components.

For details, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission at tinyurl.com/2ps3bd.

'Wiped'-out mom

After her little bundle of joy, Rowan (aka The Dictator), arrived, Rebecca Eckler, author of "Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-Be," wondered when the promised "rewarding" part would kick in.

She wasn't supposed to trade in tight jeans for baggy sweatpants or give up the dream of sound sleep.

Now, she has penned "WIPED! Life with a Pint-size Dictator" ($13.95), which includes everything modern moms need to know from "must-have items" to baby monitors.