Learn About Mosquitoes
How many species of mosquitoes are there?
There are currently 46 species identified in Connecticut, 150 in North America, and over 3000 species worldwide.
Do all mosquitoes bite humans?
No. Of the 46 species in Connecticut, only 12 are considered pest species to humans and livestock.
Why do mosquitoes bite humans?
Mosquitoes do not actually “bite” humans; they “feed” on them. Female mosquitoes require protein to produce their eggs and obtain this protein from the blood of humans and other animals.
Do male and female mosquitoes both feed on humans?
No. Since male mosquitoes do not lay eggs, they do not require protein. Only the female mosquito requires a source of protein to produce her eggs.
Where do mosquitoes breed?
A mosquito’s life cycle has four stages- egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Mosquitoes need water to breed since all mosquitoes spend their larval and pupal stages in water. Therefore, mosquitoes can always be found around water.
This is why it is important to prevent stagnant water from standing around your home and apply a larvacide to areas where stagnant water cannot be removed.
How long do mosquitoes live?
Most adult mosquitoes wind up as food for birds, dragonflies, or spiders. Others succumb to the effects of wind, rain, and drought. Those that don’t may persist for as long as 2-3 months and adults that hibernate can live as long as 6-8 months.
Where do mosquitoes go during winter?
Mosquitoes are cold-blooded creatures and do not generally bite in temperatures below 50º F. In Connecticut, some adult mosquitoes become inactive with the onset of cold weather and enter into hibernation before the first frost. Other mosquitoes die in the fall but have winter-hardy eggs, which hibernate as embryos.
How do mosquitoes spread disease?
Only in the last century has it been known that mosquitoes are capable of spreading disease. The diseases are often viruses that are picked up by the mosquito when it feeds on an infected host. When the mosquito then feeds on another host, it can spread the virus.
What type of diseases can mosquitoes carry?
Mosquitoes are known to have carried diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dog heartworm, and viral encephalitis. Mosquitoes do not transmit AIDS.
How can mosquitoes be controlled?
Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Sources of mosquito breeding can be:
- Tin cans
- Discarded tires
- Trash cans
- Bird baths and wading pools
- Clogged roof gutters
- Poorly maintained swimming pools (apply a larvacide to areas of stagnant water that cannot be removed)
Connecticut has also implemented an aggressive mosquito control strategy including mosquito testing, habitat modification, and ground-spraying with mosquito-killing pesticides when disease-carrying mosquitoes are isolated.
Why are mosquitoes able to survive pesticide spraying?
Pesticides such as resmethrin are designed to kill adult mosquitoes with 5-30 minutes of contact. Contact is more reliably achieved after sunset and overnight when most mosquitoes are airborne. When contact is made, insecticides such as resmethrin are approximately 90% effective so some mosquitoes do survive spraying. It is not designed to kill mosquito larvae so non-adult mosquitoes will not be affected and new hatches of adults may need to be addressed.
How can I protect myself from mosquito-borne diseases?
The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. This can be accomplished using personal protection while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Examples of protective measures are:
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors.
- Use insect repellent containing DEET (Caution: Always follow the directions on any insect repellent. NEVER use repellent containing DEET on infants).
- Cover baby carriages and playpens with mosquito netting if outdoors while mosquitoes are present.