Mosquitoes

The Insect

Small and unassuming, mosquitoes often fly unnoticed until they land and find human skin to bite. Using their straw-like mouthparts, called a proboscis, female mosquitoes will pierce skin to suck blood. They can be vectors or carriers for disease in humans and animals, and they can cause loss of weight and reduced milk production in livestock. There are over 3000 mosquito species in the world, and 176 known species within in the United States. Depending on the species, mosquitoes can fly anywhere from a few hundred yards to more than 20 miles.

Mosquitoes can carry disease


Some mosquito species are capable of carrying diseases such as malaria, West Nile, Zika, encephalitis, dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and others. When female mosquitoes bite and draw blood, and if that blood contains a parasite or virus, they carry it to the next bite victim, infecting that person or animal through their bloodstream.

Life cycle


Mosquitoes typically complete their life cycle from egg to adult in 7-14 days. Female mosquitoes lay eggs on substrates in the water like vegetation or on the surface of water in clusters, called egg rafts. Within the size of a single grain of rice, egg rafts contain anywhere from 100 to 400 eggs. Larvae hatch and breathe in the water through tubes called siphons and they feed on algae, plankton, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms in the water. A mosquito larva will molt and shed its skin four times, and on the fourth molt it becomes a pupa. After a few days, mosquito pupae will break away from their casings and morph into adult mosquitoes. New mosquito adults will sit on the water’s surface, gaining strength to fly away. They can live as long as a month during summer, and depending on the species, female mosquitoes will live many months over a winter to lay eggs the following spring or overwinter as eggs altogether.

 

Feeding characteristics


Only female mosquitoes bite. They need the protein in blood to produce eggs. Male mosquitoes don’t bite and only feed on plant nectar.
 

Tips for controlling mosquitoes around your home

 
  • Use DecoShield Decorative Mosquito Repellent and GoClip Personal Mosquito Repellent, made with all-natural essential oils that protect your patio or personal space from mosquitoes.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing with long sleeves and long pants. Tighter fitting garments make it easier for mosquitoes to find your skin.
  • Drain standing water. Mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs, so drain any unnecessary water sources from your property. Even the smallest amounts of standing water can become mosquito breeding grounds.
Possible sources of standing water:
 
Spare tires
Leaky hoses and outdoor faucets
Uncovered recycle or trash bins
Tarps and boat covers
Overturned garbage can lids
Rot holes in trees
Unchanged water dishes for pets
Buckets
Bird baths (clean out weekly)
Clogged rain gutters
Children’s toys
Potted plant saucers

  • For ponds or water features, consider adding mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), which eat mosquito larvae in the water before they become mosquitoes.

Mosquito varieties common to North America

The Aedes genus of mosquitoes

Aedes mosquitoes are capable of carrying disease, such as West Nile, Zika, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE or Triple E), LaCrosse encephalitis, dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and others. Roughly half the mosquitoes in North America are part of the Aedes genus. These dangerous fliers are found in the southeastern U.S. from Texas to Florida, and north from Iowa to New Jersey; as well as parts of New Mexico, Arizona, California, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
  • Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito)

  • Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito)

  • Aedes triseriatus (American tree-hole mosquito)

  • Aedes (Ochlerotatus) sollicitans (eastern salt marsh mosquito)

  • Aedes taeniorhynchus (black salt marsh mosquito)


The Culex genus of mosquitoes

Common West Nile and encephalitis vectors, Culex mosquitoes typically bite in the evening and at night, and rest during the day. House mosquitoes (C. pipiens and quinquefasciatus) are found in urban areas, while the encephalitis mosquito (C. tarsalis) prefers rural settings. Overall, these mosquitoes prefer the tropics, but at least one or many species of Culex mosquito are found across North America and Hawaii.
 
  • Culex pipiens (common house mosquito or northern house mosquito)
  • Culex tarsalis (encephalitis mosquito)
  • Culex quinquefasciatus (southern house mosquito)


The Anopheles genus of mosquitoes

Anopheles mosquitoes are easily recognized by their slanted or tipped stance when resting or biting. Common malaria mosquitoes (An. quadrimaculatus) are found in the eastern and central U.S. and An. freeborni live in the western U.S. Both are capable of spreading malaria.
 
  • Anopheles quadrimaculatus (common malaria mosquito)
  • Anopheles freeborni