If you ever think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in bed with a mosquito.
In each state, of the United States, there are many kinds of mosquitoes. New, Jersey has sixty species, each of which has a different habitat, behavior, and preferred source of blood. About ten of these species are so numerous, and such vicious biters of people and animals in the state, that many years ago, most New Jersey counties established agencies to control mosquitoes.
Organized mosquito control is necessary because mosquitoes are not only a nuisance as biting insects, but are also involved periodically in transmitting disease to humans and animals.
Mosquito control agencies reduce mosquito populations in various ways, including water management, biological control agents, and insecticides, which can be effective in controlling mosquito larvae (larvicides) or mosquito adults (adulticides).
Mosquito populations can increase rapidly, and, depending on flooding and general weather conditions, mosquito control agencies cannot always keep up with mosquito problems in all areas. Very often, residents can help significantly by controlling mosquitoes around their homes and properties.
Mosquitoes Need Water
All mosquitoes have four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult; and they spend their larval and pupal stages in water. The females of some mosquito species deposit eggs on moist surface; such as, mud or fallen leaves, that may be near water but dry.
Later, rain or high tides flood these surfaces again and stimulate the eggs to hatch into larvae. The females of other species deposit their eggs directly on the surface of still water in such places as ditches, street catch basins, tire tracks, streams that are drying up, and fields or excavations that hold water for some time.
This water is often stagnant and close to the home in discarded tires, ornamental pools, unused wading and swimming pools, tin cans, bird baths, plant saucers, and even gutters and flat roofs.
The eggs deposited on such waters soon hatch into larvae. In the hot summer months, larvae grow rapidly, become pupae, and emerge one week later as flying adult mosquitoes.
A few important spring species have only one generation per year; however, most species have many generations per year, and their rapid increase in numbers becomes a problem.
Only Female Mosquitoes Consume Blood
When adult mosquitoes emerge from the aquatic stages, they mate, and the female seeks a blood meal to obtain the protein necessary for the development of her eggs. The females of a few species may produce a first batch of eggs without this first blood meal. After a blood meal is digested and the eggs are laid, the female mosquito again seeks a blood meal to produce a second batch of eggs.
Depending on her stamina and the weather, she may repeat this process many times without mating again. The male mosquito does not take a blood meal, but usually feeds on plant nectar. He lives for only a short time after mating.
Winter Survival Is Important to Mosquitoes
Most mosquito species survive the winter in the egg stage, waiting for the spring thaw, when waters get warmer and the eggs hatch. A few important species spend the winter as adult, mated females, resting in protected, cool locations; such as, cellars, sewers, crawl spaces, and well pits.
With the warm spring days, these females seek a blood meal and begin the cycle again. Only a few species can overwinter as larvae.
"Mosquito bites itch because the insects inject proteins and other chemicals into the body when they bite. The chemicals help enlarge the blood vessels and keep blood from clotting. This makes it easier for a mosquito to get blood out. The chemicals also cause irritation, activating the immune system, which reacts to the chemicals and creates an unpleasant welt."
Mosquitoes live in a wide variety of ways and ecosystems so there is no common description that applies to all of them
In Africa, some insects called mosquitoes breed in tree holes and feed on plant nectar. In arctic Canada, other insects called mosquitoes breed in ponds of melted snow and attack warm-blooded animals in such numbers and with such avidity (eagerness) that they could, if left to do so, suck a man dry in four hours.
Some species prefer sunlight, some shade. Some breed in the foulest latrine pits or in saltwater marshes, while some exhibit almost no tolerance of pollution or salinity. Some like to bite cows; others prefer humans, others birds or reptiles. One genus inserts its proboscis into an ant's mouth and helps itself to the ant's food. All of these creatures are called mosquitoes.
The name mosquito can properly be given to any member of the insect family Culicidae, a group that comprises some 3,000 species and subspecies over virtually the entire globe. When a mosquito "bites" (pierces or perforates into the skin), people usually feel an allergic reaction to the saliva, which causes the swelling and itching. That this reaction is allergic helps explain why some victims suffer more than others when injected with her contaminated saliva.
Hemophilic female mosquitoes have special piercing instruments
to get blood protein for their eggs
Mosquitoes, female mosquitoes only, use their proboscides (slender tubular feeding and sucking structures) to perforate the skin. The proboscis consists of six different shafts. Four are cutting and piercing tools; a fifth transports blood from host to mosquito; the sixth transports saliva, thought to act as an anticoagulant, the other way.
The saliva also transmits the organisms of malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and most of the other diseases for which mosquitoes are notorious.
Mosquito species are nocturnal (night), diurnal (day time), or crepuscular (active at dawn and twilight). Different species also prefer different altitudes.
Male mosquitoes do not suck blood and therefore do not transmit disease. Like the males of many other insect families, they are important for just one reason, and then become superfluous because the female usually needs to mate only once in her life time.
She stores sperm in her body and fertilizes her eggs at the time of laying. Shortly before or after mating, she takes a meal of blood to provide the eggs with protein. When the eggs are mature and ready to be fertilized, she searches for a suitable place to lay them.
There are various locations for mosquito eggs and nurturing
Some mosquito species lay their eggs in places that are likely to contain water in the future; for example, rusty cans or discarded tires.
When these future water holders are dry, the mosquito will lay them and the eggs lapse into a state called diapause. They won't hatch until this dormant period passes, and the water level, temperature and oxygen content are just right. The eggs of some species can survive for years in diapause, even in sub-freezing temperatures.
Some favorite places for mosquito nurseries are bird baths, wading and swimming pools, rain barrels, sewer drains, tree holes, or a variety of places where water collects and bacteria develop to serve as food sources for the mosquito larvae and pupae.
The main rule when it comes to breeding grounds for mosquitoes is that they need stagnant water in order to lay their eggs. What most people don't realize is the surprising number of areas around their own houses where mosquitoes can find the stagnant water they need.
The main rule is: If it can hold water for more than a few days, it can breed mosquitoes. Remember: Anything that can hold water for more than a few days is usually a breeding ground for mosquitoes! Target the source for mosquito breeding and eliminate it, or suffer the consequences!
Tracking Down your Mosquito Problems
Mosquitoes are opportunistic, and will find and breed in a wide variety of places around your residence. Any water-holding location can become a breeding site for mosquitoes. A half-cup of water can breed enough mosquitoes to cause problems.
Everyone can get rid of the mosquito problems simply and without using pesticides by eliminating breeding locations around the house and yard. Common breeding areas around the home include:
Locations and solutions
- Potted plants with pans: Don't overwater, remove pan if possible.
- Drainage ditches: Remove vegetation and obstructions to water flow.
- Low spots that hold water: Fill and regrade.
- Plugged roof gutters: Keep gutters clean.
- Pet dishes: Change water frequently.
- Trash piles: Remove or cover.
- Old tires: Remove or cover.
- Water holding containers: Remove or cover.
- Poorly maintained pools: Follow recommended maintenance.
- Tree holes: Fill with sand or concrete.
- Debris on roofs: Remove debris.
- Ponds: Keep clean, stock with minnows.
- Boats: Cover or turn upside down.
- Bird baths: Flush at least once per week.
- Rain barrels: Empty at least once a week.
Different Types of Mosquitoes
- The anautogenous mosquito is a mosquito that requires a blood meal in the adult stage for the production of viable eggs.
- The argamous mosquito is a mosquito that requires large or outdoor spaces for breeding.
- The autogenous mosquito is a mosquito that can produce viable eggs without a blood meal.
- The steyogamous mosquito is a mosquito that can breed in captivity in limited spaces.
- An adult mosquito can live as long as 5 months. It may take several months for a larva to develop to the adult stage in very cold water.
- An adult female mosquito weighs about 2.0 milligrams.
- An adult female mosquito takes in about 5-millionths of a liter of blood in a single meal.
- A mosquito wing beats from 300 to 600 times per second.
- Male mosquitoes find female mosquitoes by listening to the sound of their wings beating. The males can actually identify the correct species by the pitch of the female's wings.
- Mosquitoes can fly about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour.
- A mosquito can detect the carbon dioxide you exhale from about 60 to 75 feet away.
- In the interest of science, Arctic researchers uncovered their chests, arms, and legs; then they reported as many as 9000 mosquito bites per person, per minute.
- At this rate, an unprotected human would lose one half of his/her blood supply in approximately two hours.
Here are some pages that will give you significantly more information about mosquitoes:
Mosquito, Mosquitoes in other languages
as written in Latinized text
Mosquitoes, Part 1 of 2
, for illustrations and significant mosquito information
Historical synopsis about malaria and mosquitoes
Information about those who were responsible for finally determining the real causes
of malaria as being something other than "bad air"
A cross reference of other word family units that are related directly, or indirectly, with: "insects, bugs, worms; invertebrates":
Dung Beetle Survival;
Dung Beetles Important;
Mosquito, other Languages;
Mosquitoes, Pt. 1;
Mosquitoes, Pt. 2;