Mosquitoes suck – literally and figuratively. It’s bad enough that they swarm around us every time we go outside, covering us in itchy bites when they eat our blood, but the worst part is that they show up just in time for the nicest months of the year. Just when you actually want to start spending some time outside, they’re waiting for you.
Why? How is it that mosquitoes only show up just in time for summer? Where were they during winter or spring? Is there anything we can do to send them back? Get to know your enemy, and maybe you can have an itch-free summer this year. Here are some of the facts about the least interesting, most annoying bloodsuckers in the animal kingdom.
Depending on where you live, mosquito season may be in full swing already. It all comes down to temperature, weather, and humidity. Michigan experienced greater-than-average rainfall in spring, and that moisture hung around, partially in the form of excess standing water. Rain tends to bring all kinds of pests around, and when you combine it with above average spring heat, you get perfect mosquito conditions.
Mosquitoes deposit eggs in puddles of standing water, so there’s a direct correlation between rainfall and mosquito severity. So why summer and not spring? Mosquito eggs won’t generally hatch until the average temperature reaches around 50 degrees. The hotter the outdoor temperature, the more quickly mosquitoes complete their growth cycle. Mosquitoes come for the standing water and stay for those nice, summer temperatures. They even settle down and start families! It’d be kind of cute if they weren’t mosquitoes.
Where Were They?
If mosquitoes “come back” during spring and summer, then where were they the rest of the year? It varies by species. Mosquitoes respond to winter’s cold in one of two ways. Either they spend fall gorging themselves to prepare for hibernation like very small, flying bears, or they get busy making winter-proofed eggs and then die.
Fast forward to summer. When temperatures start warming back up, the hibernating mosquitoes emerge from the dark, enclosed places where they had been hibernating and start feeding, reproducing, and (of course) laying eggs. As for the less-lucky fall egg layers, the outdoor heat stimulates the previously-laid winterproof eggs, and a new generation of mosquitoes is born.
Where Are They Coming From?
Mosquitoes live, breed, and generally hang out around puddles of standing water, or in moist and dark areas. Anywhere that’s the least bit damp, dark, or warm can be prime real estate for the less-than-discerning bloodsucker. You may notice particularly bad mosquitoes around ponds and lakes, heavily-wooded areas, swampy, brackish fields, and natural low points that hold water like gutters, valleys, or potholes.
Most mosquitoes can be active all day, but you’ve probably noticed they’re considerably more active at dusk or night. Ironically, though they love the sun, mosquitoes are easily dehydrated. Staying out in the hot, dry summer sun for too long can kill them quickly. Most mosquitoes stick to dark, damp areas like basements, forests, or swamps during the day where they can stay hydrated, and feed at night when the darkness preserves a comfortable enough amount of dampness and coolness.
How Can I Keep Them Away?
Mosquito prevention revolves around depriving the pest of things they need. First, look for places where water may be accumulating. Clear your gutters, downspouts, storm drains, and window wells. Look for low spots in your lawn that may collect moisture, especially in shaded areas. Untreated wooden decks and porches soak up a lot of moisture and attract mosquitoes, too, so make sure yours is water resistant.
Next, look for other objects out in the open that could collect water. Keeping your lawn and hedges trimmed short can help too, because shorter plants collect less water than longer ones. Finally, it’s a good idea to apply mosquito repellant when you go out. If you’re planning on spending more than two or three hours outside, you should bring your repellant with you to reapply as needed to help prevent bites.
Few things on earth unite us like mosquitoes: everybody hates those nasty things. Understanding what makes mosquitoes tick (or suck) can help you better understand how to prepare for them and prevent them from ruining your summer.