Mosquitoes are often an annoyance as their bite can be itchy and uncomfortable, but they are also a health risk as they can carry and transmit diseases viruses from one human or animal to another with each bite.
If a mosquito feeds off a diseased host, some can transmit pathogens that can infect other hosts it subsequently bites.
Mosquitoes are perhaps the most dangerous of summer pests. They are most well known for their pesky biting habits, which can leave itchy, red bumps. When the female mosquito pierces your skin with its piercing-sucking mouthparts, at the same time, it injects saliva into your skin. It is the proteins in the saliva that can trigger a mild immune system response which results in those itchy red bumps.
Adult mosquitoes are tiny, about 1/8 - 3/8" long. They have six legs and long mouthparts called a proboscis. Their colouring varies from grey to black, with some having white, green, or blue markings. Individually, mosquitoes are very difficult to spot as they fly because of their small size and because they are most active from dawn to dusk.
Mosquitoes can be found near stagnant rain puddles and ponds, decomposing material such as wet leaf matter, swamps, and marches.
The mosquito goes through four separate and distinct stages of its life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The first three stages occur in water. As adults, they are active flying insects.
An entire life cycle (egg to adult) takes about 10 to 14 days. Only the female mosquito feeds on the blood of humans or other animals, as a source of protein for their eggs, laying up to 200 eggs at one time.
Depending on the condition and source of food, male mosquitoes can only live for around 6-7 days while females can live up to two months.
How do l recognize a mosquito?
Mosquitoes are very slender flies with an elongated piercing mouth-part and long legs. Their wings are fringed with scales along the edge. Female mosquitoes also have an antenna covered with long soft hair.
Are mosquitoes dangerous to humans?
Mosquitoes are a health risk as they can carry and transmit diseases viruses from one human or animal to another with each bite. When biting with their proboscis, they will stab two tubes into the skin: one to inject an enzyme that inhibits blood clotting and the other to suck blood into their bodies.
To date, mosquitoes have infected humans with the Zika virus, yellow fever, dengue fever, encephalitis, malaria, and West Nile, to name a few.
Where do you find mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are found near stagnant rain puddles and ponds, near decomposing material such as wet leaf matter, swamps, and marches.
As mosquitoes lay eggs in water, they are common around marshes and lakes but can breed in as little as a ½ inch of standing water. This underscores the importance of homeowners regularly checking their property for containers collecting water and providing a safe harbor for mosquitoes to grow.
Common breeding areas around an urban home are flower pots with stagnant water at the base, birdbaths, baby pools, rain barrels, metal cans, and tires – yes old discarded tires are one of the most important mosquito producers in urban environments! These should be emptied regularly.
Gutters along the roofline that are clogged can offer great breeding sites. Ornamental ponds left stagnant with no fish also act as breeding areas.
Do mosquitoes only feed on blood?
Only female mosquitoes bite and feed on humans. They need a blood meal to lay fertile eggs. Most mosquitoes breed continuously, so a female will search for a blood meal approximately every two days to lay another batch of eggs. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar from flowers and plant juices as their main source of energy.
How can I prevent mosquitoes?
Mosquito prevention at home starts with removing areas of standing water – habitat modification. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water where the larvae develop, so it is critical to empty containers such as tires and flower pots, pool covers, and baby pools after a rainstorm. Water in birdbaths should be changed regularly as well.
Most types of mosquitoes are active around dusk and dawn, so avoiding the outdoors at those times will reduce the likelihood of getting a bite. If you're outside, wear long sleeves, long pants, and insect repellent to protect skin from mosquitoes. A small fan at outdoor gatherings may also reduce mosquitoes, as they are not strong flyers.
What are some of the mosquito prevention tips I should follow?
When spending time outdoors, apply an insect repellant containing at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, and reapply as directed on the label. People who are spending more time outdoors should also consider wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toe shoes to limit exposure to mosquitoes. Depending on what area of the continent you are on, the type of mosquito that carries Zika is a daytime biter, so taking preventive measures at all times of the day is crucial. (we do not have mosquitoes that carry Zika in Canada and most of the US – may be only Florida)
Mosquitoes need only about half an inch of water to breed, so homeowners should eliminate areas of standing water such as flowerpots, birdbaths, baby pools, grill covers, and other objects where water collects.
Screen all windows and doors, and patch up even the tiniest tear or hole on screens.
If I have an infestation of mosquitoes, what can I do to eliminate them?
Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes. Birdbaths should be cleaned out regularly. Look around your building or home for buckets, wading pools, toys, gardening items, pots, discarded tires, and other containers that can collect water and remove them. Keep your gutters free of water and debris, stop leaks, and regularly maintain your outdoor pool or spa. If the infestation of mosquitoes becomes severe, call Abell Pest Control.
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