More than just annoying and itchy, mosquitoes have tested positive locally for the West Nile Virus. Keep reading to learn how to protect your home and family.
Mosquitoes are a pest that are capable of ruining a great day at the park, a romantic evening on a deck or from even spending time in the garden. People will do anything to avoid being bit. They will wear long pants during the summer, use hats with screen veils and even spray themselves with everything imaginable hoping that no mosquito will find them. However, mosquito populations are more active today than ever. If you enjoy the great outdoors, get used to dealing with mosquitoes. They are here to stay. There are over 150 species of mosquitoes in the United States. Some are able to fully develop from eggs in less than a week. Most take 10-14 days to reach maturity but what is important is they grow rapidly.
Mosquitoes need water and high levels of moisture to sustain themselves and reproduce. They will readily move to moist, shady areas under decks, around pools, in garages, in dense shrubbery or flowers, any kind of ivy, holes or nooks of trees, water in a clogged rain gutter or simply the water on a leaf of shrubs which are being watered during the hot summer months. Although female mosquitoes may live for up to a year, most die in the season they were born. Mosquito populations are able to continue from year to year because one stage is able to overcome winter and start their cycle again the next spring. Each species has different winter survivors. It may be the adult, the pupa, the larva or the egg.
Some adult females don’t need a blood meal to begin to reproduce. Most mosquitoes lay several hundred eggs and are able to generate huge populations within a short period of time. Although standing water is the prime location for them to reproduce, there are many locations around the home that afford fertile egg laying areas. Such places include water in the bottom of planters, drainage streams, street sewers which don’t drain completely, rain barrels, buckets of water, swimming pools, drain lines from rain gutters, old tires, mulch around the home, shrubs, trees, firewood, slow moving water, small decorative ponds for pet fish, bird baths, water accumulating around windows or doors, water accumulating from an automatic sprinkler system, pet water dishes, leaks around water spickets and just about anywhere water is used or is able to accumulate during the warm summer months anywhere in the country.
Most people believe mosquitoes are coming from great distances to their yard in search of food. In fact, most mosquitoes migrate to a yard first and foremost because there is something about the yard which the mosquito finds attractive for living. In most cases, mosquitoes are finding a great place to live around the home and then take advantage of the free meals the homeowner or their children present when outside in the yard.
Mosquitoes won’t migrate far from where they will find shelter and protection from the hot sun. Shade and moisture are two key ingredients needed for their survival and these of course, can be found around any home. If your home is on a lake or pond, the mosquitoes could be breeding in the water. Generally, they will do so close to shore. Don’t expect to find them more than 10 feet from shore. They like shallow water and will keep themselves close to plant life and wet lands if possible. Open deep water which is moving is not the kind of water they like for reproduction. Barns or sheds are another great location for reproduction or shelter. The underside of most decks which are built close to the ground offers great shady shelter and protection for weak mosquitoes susceptible to the hot sun.
It is important to locate any area around the home where mosquitoes may be seeking shelter or using for reproduction. Many homeowners are creating perfect breeding and shelter conditions which are attracting mosquitoes. If you have any of the conditions described above, chances are you will have mosquitoes. Mosquitoes will stay where the breeding and shelter areas are best for them. If you are creating a moist shady area around your home, you will be luring mosquitoes. Once they find the shade and moisture to live, expect them to find you and your family for their food!
Mosquito control is easy when we determine where they are living or breeding, like in any of the sites listed above. Chances are mosquitoes are taking advantage of such conditions. To find out pricing and more information on our mosquito treatment, visit our Services page.
Let’s recap. These are possible places around your home that are perfect mosquito habitats. If possible, try to minimize moisture in these areas:
- Bottom of pots or planters.
- Pet water bowl (rinse and keep clean with fresh water daily).
- Any shady or moist area in shrubbery, around decks, garage, wood piles, gutters, widows, doors, old tires, around your water hose spickets, etc.
- Sprinkler system.
- Pool/pond drainage areas.
- Rain barrels.
- Any standing water.
Any insect that feeds on blood has the potential of transmitting disease organisms from human to human. Mosquitoes are highly developed blood-sucking insects and are the most formidable transmitters of disease in the animal kingdom. Mosquito-borne diseases are caused by human parasites that have a stage in their life cycle that enters the blood stream. The female mosquito picks up the blood stage of the parasite when she imbibes blood to develop her eggs. The parasites generally use the mosquito to complete a portion of their own life cycle and either multiply, change in form inside the mosquito or do both. After the mosquito lays her eggs, she seeks a second blood meal and transmits the fully developed parasites to the next unwitting host, you.
- West Nile Virus: The most common mosquito-borne virus in the DFW area is the West Nile Virus. It’s transmitted from birds to humans by mosquitoes. Find out more about West Nile Virus here.
- Chikungunya: Chikungunya is another mosquito transmitted virus confirmed in DFW. Learn more about Chikungunya here.
- Malaria: Malaria is a parasitic protozoa that infects the blood cells of humans and is transmitted from one human to the next by Anopheles mosquitoes.
- Encephalitis: Encephalitis is a virus of the central nervous system that is passed from infected birds to humans by mosquitoes that accept birds as blood meal hosts in addition to humans.
- Yellow Fever: Yellow fever is a virus infection of monkeys that can either be transmitted from monkey to human or from human to human in tropical areas of the world.
- Dog Heartworm Disease: Dog heartworm is a large filarial worm that lives in the heart of dogs but produces a blood stage small enough to develop in a mosquito. The dog heartworm parasite does not develop properly in humans and is not regarded as a human health problem. A closely related parasite, however, produces human elephantiasis in some tropical areas of the world, a debilitating mosquito-borne affliction that results in grossly swollen arms, legs and other body parts.
Why do mosquitoes bite?
Mosquitoes belong to a group of insects that requires blood to develop fertile eggs. Males do not lay eggs, thus, male mosquitoes do not bite. The females are the egg producers and “host-seek” for a blood meal. Female mosquitoes lay multiple batches of eggs and require a blood meal for every batch they lay.
Interesting info: Few people realize that mosquitoes rely on sugar as their main source of energy. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, fruit juices and liquids that ooze from plants. The sugar is burned as fuel for flight and is replenished on a daily basis. Blood is reserved for egg production and is imbibed less frequently.
Why do mosquitoes leave welts when they bite?
When a female mosquito pierces the skin, she injects a small amount of saliva into the wound before drawing blood. The saliva makes penetration easier and prevents the blood from clotting in the narrow channel of her food canal. The welts that appear after the mosquito leaves is not a reaction to the wound but an allergic reaction to the saliva injected to prevent clotting. In most cases, the itching sensation and swellings subside within several hours. Some people are highly sensitive and symptoms persist for several days. Scratching the bites can result in infection if bacteria from the fingernails are introduced to the wounds.
Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes then others?
Scientists are still investigating the complexities involved with mosquito host acceptance and rejection. Some people are highly attractive to mosquitoes and others are rarely bothered. Mosquitoes have specific requirements to satisfy and process many different factors before they feed. Many of the mosquito’s physiological demands are poorly understood and many of the processes they use to evaluate potential blood meal hosts remain a mystery. Female mosquitoes use the CO2 we exhale as their primary cue to our location. A host seeking mosquito is guided to our skin by following the slip stream of CO2 that exudes from our breath. Once they have landed, they rely on a number of short range attractants to determine if we are an acceptable blood meal host. Folic acid is one chemical that appears to be particularly important. Fragrances from hair sprays, perfumes, deodorants and soap can cover these chemical cues. They can also function to either enhance or repel the host seeking drive. Dark colors capture heat and make most people more attractive to mosquitoes. Light colors refract heat and are generally less attractive. Detergents, fabric softeners, perfumes and body odor can counteract the effects of color. In most cases, only the mosquito knows why one person is more attractive than another.
How long do mosquitoes live?
Mosquitoes are relatively fragile insects with an adult life span that lasts about 2 weeks. The vast majority meet a violent end by serving as food for birds, dragonflies and spiders or are killed by the effects of wind, rain or drought. The mosquito species that only have a single generation each year are longer lived and may persist in small numbers for as long as 2-3 months if environmental conditions are favorable. Mosquitoes that hibernate in the adult stage live for 6-8 months but spend most of that time in a state of torpor. Some of the mosquito species found in arctic regions enter hibernation twice and take more than a year to complete their life cycle.
Where do mosquitoes go in the winter?
Mosquitoes, like most insects, are cold blooded creatures. As a result, they are incapable of regulating body heat and their temperature is essentially the same as their surroundings. Mosquitoes function best at 80°F, become lethargic at 60°F and cannot function below 50°F. In tropical areas, mosquitoes are active year round. In temperate climates, adult mosquitoes become inactive with the onset of cool weather and enter hibernation to live through the winter.
Some kinds of mosquitoes have winter hardy eggs and hibernate as embryos in eggs laid by the last generation of females in late summer. The eggs are usually submerged under ice and hatch in spring when water temperatures rise. Other kinds of mosquitoes enter winter as adult females that mate in the fall, enter hibernation in animal burrows, hollow logs or basements and pass the winter in a state of torpor. In spring, the females emerge from hibernation, blood feed and lay the eggs that produce the next generation of adults. A limited number of mosquitoes enter winter in the larval stage, often buried in the mud of freshwater swamps. When temperatures rise in spring, these mosquitoes begin feeding, complete their immature growth and eventually emerge as adults to continue their kind.
Check out Texas A&M’s Interactive Mosquito Safari to learn more about these pest.
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