What To Know About Mosquitoes

Over 200 types of mosquitoes live in the continental United States and US territories; of these 200, about 12 types spread diseases that can make people sick. Of these blood-borne diseases, malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus and dengue are global health threats. [2] Female mosquitoes take in blood from animals and human beings so that their eggs can mature prior to laying. It serves no nourishment function. Males do not take blood meals at all. In order to obtain energy, both males and females feed upon plant nectars – much in the same manner as honeybees.[1]

Despite the existence of mosquitoes for millennia, it still not entirely understood what draws them to humans. Carbon dioxide is the most universally recognized mosquito attractant and draws mosquitoes from up to 100 feet. When females sense carbon dioxide they usually adopt a zigzagging flight path within the plume to locate its source. Once in the general vicinity of a potential host, other cues predominate, including body odors (sweat, lactic acid, etc.) and heat. Odors produced by the skin also play a part in inducing the mosquito to land. [2]

Of the 200 types of mosquitoes in the continental United States, five species are most common. They include the black mosquito, the common house mosquito, the (asian) tiger mosquito, western malaria mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito.

How To Prevent Mosquitoes

Preventing mosquitoes requires ongoing maintenance of outdoor conditions that provide standing water for eggs and larvae to mature. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water. [4]

Humidity and wet conditions like heavy rain and wet weather allow these conditions to reset throughout the spring, summer and fall. If there are larger bodies of water that are not used for drinking and cannot be covered, consider using larvicides to treat them. Larvicides are very effective in eliminating mosquito larvae and creating new broods after each rainfall or reproductive cycle.[4]

To kill adult mosquitoes, an outdoor adulticide is recommended. According to the CDC website, adulticides are available in three forms: coils, foggers and yard sprays/aerosols.[4] Always follow the product label instructions when using these products. Once outdoor standing water conditions are removed or minimalized, adults will rest under plants, dense brush and tall grasses as well as under leaves and bushes. They rest in moist, shady areas and can be found under porches and decks as well. Knowing where adult mosquitoes can reside is useful when using outdoor mosquito products. Selecting a solution to repel or kill mosquitoes is better served if you can determine all the conditions where they could be breeding or resting.
[1] Mosquitoes in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, March 5). https://www.cdc.gov/mosquito/about/mosquitos-in-the-us.html.
[2] Frequently Asked Questions. American Mosquito Control Association. (n.d.). https://www.mosquito.org/page/faq
[4] Control Mosquitoes Outside Your Home. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, August 25). https://www.cdc.gov/mosquitos/mosquito-control/athome/outside-your-home/index.htm

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
asian tiger mosquitoes explored

Spotlight on an Invasive Mosquito Species

Since the mid-1980s, the Asian tiger mosquito has been present in the United States. The species was introduced via cargo from Southeast Asia and has since expanded to most of the United States. Tiger mosquitoes are notoriously aggressive biters that feed mostly during the day. The species is also well-known for its public health risk to both humans, animals and birds. They have the capability to spread diseases such as encephalitis (St. Louis and eastern equine), dengue, yellow fever, west nile and dog heartworm.[3]
  • Usually under 0.25 inches in length
  • Conspicuous white bands on legs and body
  • Active during daylight
  • Flight range of about 300 feet
[3] William Walton and Mark Hoddle. Asian Tiger Mosquito. Center for Invasive Species Research, University of California, Riverside. https://cisr.ucr.edu/invasive-species/asian-tiger-mosquito
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