Mosquitoes represent a group of about 3500 species of small insects from the fly family. Mosquitoes diverged from other insects about 226 million years ago.
Similarly to flies, these insects go through four stages in their lifecycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The first three stages—egg, larva, and pupa—are largely aquatic. These stages typically last 5 to 14 days. The period of development from egg to adult varies among species and is strongly influenced by temperature, but the average time from birth to adult is 40 days.
Male mosquitoes do not suck blood (only the females). Instead, they feed on nectar and other sources of sugar. The female needs blood in order to reproduce. After getting blood, the female will rest for a few days while the blood is digested, and eggs are developed. This process depends on the temperature, but usually takes two to three days in tropical conditions. Once the eggs are fully developed, the female lays them and resumes host-seeking. The cycle repeats itself until the female dies.
Mosquitoes have a slender segmented body, a pair of wings, three pairs of long hair-like legs, feathery antennae, and elongated mouth parts.
Facts About Mosquitoes
- More deaths are associated with mosquitoes than any other animal on the planet.
- Only female mosquitoes bite humans.
- Mosquitoes can beat their wings almost 300 times per second.
- Bug zappers don’t attract mosquitoes.
- Female mosquitoes can drink up to 3x its weight in blood.
What Do Mosquitoes Eat?
A mosquito uses a variety of sensors to find its prey (chemical, visual, heat). Both plant materials and blood are suitable sources of energy in the form of sugars, and blood also supplies intense nutrients, such as lipids. The most important function of blood is to obtain proteins as materials for egg production.
Among humans, mosquitoes typically prefer people with type O blood, heavy breathers, have an abundance of skin bacteria, high body heat, and pregnant women. Female mosquitoes hunt their blood host by detecting organic substances such as carbon dioxide (CO2), lactic acid and octenol.
Most mosquito species are dawn or dusk feeders. During the heat of the day, most mosquitoes rest in a cool place and wait for the evenings, although they may still bite if disturbed. Prior to and during blood feeding, mosquitoes inject saliva into the bodies of their prey. The saliva serves as an anticoagulant; without it the female mosquito’s ‘needle nose’ might become clogged with blood clots.
The Affect and Impact of Mosquitoes
These insects can be found on every land region except Antarctica and Iceland. In warm and humid tropical regions, some mosquito species are active for the entire year, but in colder climates they hibernate. Mosquitoes have been known to carry diseases (yellow fever, dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus, Zika).
In order for a mosquito to transmit a disease to the host there must be favorable, seasonable conditions. Seasonal factors that impact the prevalence of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases are primarily humidity, temperature, and precipitation.
Mosquito-borne diseases are most widespread in East Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and India. Various species of mosquitoes are estimated to transmit various types of disease to more than 700 million people annually. At least two million people annually die of these diseases making the mosquito the most deadly animal on the planet.
Mosquitoes and the Weather
Just like many insects these pests are heavily impacted by the weather around them. In order to thrive, mosquitoes require warm and wet temperatures. Frequent rains and warmer climates create the perfect breeding ground for the female mosquito. Not only do they require moisture, these insects become extremely lethargic if the temperature is not right. If it is 60 degrees mosquito activity begins to slow and when it reaches 50 degrees activity stops almost all together. This is because the mosquito is a cold blood insect that is not able to regulate its own body temperature. Leaving them to adjust to the temperature around them.
The temperature in which these pests thrive is a nice 80 degree day. When the temperature is 80 degrees or higher prepare for an influx in mosquito activity because these insects are hungry and on the hunt.
Many measures have been tried for mosquito control, including the elimination of breeding places, exclusion via window screens and mosquito nets, biological control with parasites, sprays and repellents. There is no permanent or total eradication method for mosquitoes. The best you can do is discourage them from breeding. To do that you need to remove their breeding habitat by:
- Eliminating standing water (they need water for their eggs to hatch)
- Use pesticides/insecticides to kill larva and control male populations
- Create structural barriers like screens and netting
- Stop them from getting your blood (they need blood to reproduce)
Hire a professional
Controlling these pests effectively requires a comprehensive approach that has been scientifically tested and proven. Successful mosquito management requires intervening at some point during the mosquito’s life cycle before they bite and infect a human. The best approach to controlling mosquitoes takes advantage of every life stage of a mosquito to achieve control, using a unified approach referred to as integrated pest management (IPM).
Mosquito & Tick Control Program
Surveillance is a critical component to any successful IPM program because the results from the surveillance will help determine the appropriate response to an infestation. Extensive infestations, or those where disease is present, merit a different response than will lower levels of infestations.
IPM strategies include source reduction (prevent), biological (control), insecticide/pesticide (repel), and non-chemical controls methods. In most cases, a combination of, or even all of these methods, is the only way to combat mosquitoes. This is where we come in. Sigma Pest Control is your IPM professional.