Knowing how to identify mosquitoes is your first step to controlling them.
WHAT DO mosquitoes LOOK LIKE
Mosquitoes are one of the most bothersome summertime pests. There are over 3,000 types of mosquitoes in the world, and at least 170 of them can be found in North America. The most common mosquitoes in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island are the culex mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito.
Culex mosquitoes can vary in color, typically appearing gray with white, silver, green, or iridescent blue scales. They have two wings, a set of antennae, slender bodies, and long legs. Culex mosquitoes are usually about 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch in length, although their body size can slightly differ depending on how recently they’ve fed. Individually, mosquitoes are very difficult to spot as they fly because of their small size and due to the fact that they are most active at dawn and dusk.
Culex mosquitoes are known for causing itchy, red spots on your body from their bite. There are a few things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of a mosquito bite. After cleaning the bite with soap and water to prevent infection, apply over the counter ointments and creams directly to the bite. Applying ice will temporarily relieve swelling and itching as well.
Asian tiger mosquitoes are black with silvery white markings. The best way to identify this species is by the single median silver-white stripe from its head down the center of its back, as well as its striped black and white legs. As with all mosquito species, the antennae of the males in comparison to female is noticeably bushier and contains auditory receptors to detect the characteristic buzz of the female.
Female Asian tiger mosquitoes typically bite during the daytime. Asian tiger mosquito bites are not necessarily painful, but they can leave an itchy, red bump on the skin. Be sure to use an antibiotic ointment to ward off infection caused by excess itching. Male Asian tiger mosquitoes do not bite and primarily feed on plant nectar.
Most people have a minor reaction to a mosquito bite, but for some, the reaction may be severe. If you start to become nauseous, have chills or trouble breathing, or you develop a fever, it’s important to contact a medical professional immediately.
Where Do Mosquitoes Live
Common house mosquitoes are most commonly found in warm and wet environments. These hospitable conditions are ideal for these pests to find hosts to feed on, as well as lay their eggs. Culex mosquitoes hunt by detecting body heat and the carbon dioxide that humans exhale. However, only females suck human blood, while males feed on plant nectars. After feeding on a host, it can take several days for the female to digest the blood meal and then she will seek out a body of still water in which to lay eggs. Culex mosquitoes are able to breed in any form of stagnant water, including ponds, marshes, floodwaters, storm drains, old tires, and the water that collects in tree holes. Females will lay eggs in “rafts” of as many as 300 on the water’s surface. Once the eggs hatch, the insects spend their larval stage submerged in water, feeding on particles of organic matter, microscopic organisms, or plant material. It then develops into a pupa before finally emerging from the water as an adult. In warm weather, this developmental cycle takes about two weeks.
Asian tiger mosquitoes are unique in that they typically feed during the daylight hours, unlike many other mosquito species that feed only at dusk and dawn. In warm regions, Asian tiger mosquitoes are active year-round. However, they are known to overwinter in temperate climates. Like other mosquito species, only females require a blood meal to produce eggs. The females lay their eggs inside items that can hold at least a half inch of stagnant water, such as tires, flowerpots, birdbaths, and clogged drains. That means something as small as a bottle cap can hold enough water for larvae (the immature form of insects) to develop! Breeding sites are likely to be close to where the adult mosquito can be found.
Although mosquitoes are generally attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide, studies have shown that other factors such as blood type and the presence of naturally occurring bacteria on skin can make some people more appetizing to these blood-sucking pests than others. Additionally, dark colored clothing and perfume have been known to attract Culex mosquitoes.
How Did I Get Mosquitoes
If you have a backyard, odds are good you have mosquitoes! Make sure to dump standing water and keep your landscaping on point. But the only true way to take care of your yard and to keep it mosquito free is with treatments and traps. The treatments will help with the mosquitoes that are already there and the traps help with 24/7 control in between treatments. If you are using the right pest control company, their treatments should target mosquitoes and their biology at all stages of their life cycle. And their traps should be locked and filled with a product that attracts mosquitoes and not other beneficial pests (like honeybees!). So, getting mosquitoes in your yard may seem like a fact of life or a necessary evil of summer, you don’t just have to put up with them!
Problems Caused by Mosquitoes
Although mosquito bites typically result in just an itchy welt, Culex mosquitoes are known to transmit a number of diseases including West Nile virus and several encephalitis diseases. Although most people do not show symptoms, West Nile virus can cause fatigue and fever There is no treatment for West Nile Virus, so prevention is the best way to stay safe from any and all mosquito-borne diseases.
Asian tiger mosquitoes can transmit numerous diseases including Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), West Nile virus, and dengue fever. This biting insect is also the primary vector for Chikungunya, a virus similar to dengue fever. The disease originated in southeast Africa and was first described in Tanzania in 1952. It has since spread throughout the Americas, the Caribbean islands, and most recently in the United States.
Aside from the various mosquito-borne disease symptoms, common house mosquitoes are most commonly known for causing itchy bumps after biting. This bodily reaction to mosquito bites is caused by the mosquito’s saliva, which they inject into the skin in order to keep the blood from clotting while they feed. This anticoagulant allows mosquitoes to consume blood quickly before the host notices their presence (and swats).
How Do I Prevent Mosquitoes
Mosquito prevention at home starts with removing areas of standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water where the larvae develop, so it is important to empty containers such as empty tires and flowerpots, pool covers, and baby pools after a rainstorm. Water in birdbaths should be regularly changed 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, since they’re not strong flyers. It’s especially important to wear effective insect repellents and protective clothing if traveling outside the U.S. Mosquito-borne diseases that may be rare in the U.S. are common in many foreign countries.
Most counties have a mosquito abatement program in place to minimize the local population and help keep the public safe. These programs typically involve trapping mosquitoes in different areas and testing them for known pathogens. This helps monitor the spread of diseases and warn the public of risks in the area. County programs may also include plans for periodic spraying or fogging to eliminate adult mosquitoes. But the best way to help around your own home or business is a mosquito treatment plan and 24/7 mosquito traps.
We’re passionate about keeping mosquitoes out of your home or business because we live and work here – it’s our neighborhood, too. We’ve been keeping homes and businesses in Kentucky, Indiana, and portions of Ohio safe from pests since 1972. OPC Pest Services has the experience you can trust.