Mosquitoes are Flies, with a single pair of wings, six long legs, and a long pointed proboscis (mouth parts) used for feeding. Only female Mosquitoes consume blood. Male Mosquitoes feed on sweet plant products – nectar from flowers, fruit juices and liquids that ooze from plants. When they’re not reproducing, females may also eat nectar from plants. Mosquitoes lay eggs on the surface of water and in areas that flood on a regular basis. Eggs only need an inch of water to hatch, and can hatch in a matter of hours.
Mosquitoes are a major pest throughout the world, as their bites are not only an itchy nuisance, but can spread diseases from human to human, animal to animal and animal to human. When a female Mosquito bites, she releases an anti-coagulant in her saliva to keep blood from clotting. An allergic reaction to Mosquito saliva causes itching.
Controlling Mosquitos is difficult because, regardless of what you do, they can quickly move in from surrounding areas. The best results usually comes from taking multiple approaches including:
- Eliminate breeding sites or areas where water collection can occur, such as plugged gutters, old tires, wheelbarrows, birdbaths, toys in the yard, flower pots, etc.
- Use beneficial organisms like Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (often sold as Mosquito dunks) in water that cannot be drained or eliminated.
- Spray vegetation and other areas where adult Mosquitoes hide during the day.
- Use repellants like Deet on exposed skin when outdoors.
- Electronic “zappers” or repellants have mixed results and you may want to check with online sources to see which ones work best.
- If Mosquito problems are severe, contact local public health agencies about abatement programs. Contact www.cdc.gov/zika to control Mosquitoes in the West Nile- and Zika-infested areas.
More than 3,000 Mosquito species live throughout the world; roughly 150 species live in the United States. Texas boasts the most, with 85 different species. Florida has 80. West Virginia has the least – just 26 species.
- Keep grass mowed to a proper height to limit Mosquito-friendly hiding places.
- Don’t allow standing water to collect anywhere, including in pots, fountains, gutters, old tires, and bowls – these are Mosquito breeding grounds.
- Where possible, drain puddles.