There are over 3,000 types of mosquitoes that are known worldwide. About 200 species have been found in the United States, and about 60 species in Michigan. Three important families are: Culex, Anopheles, and Aedes. Though it may be hard to believe, mosquitoes (as disease carriers) actually make them the deadliest insect on earth. Infected Anopheles Mosquitoes carry a parasite in the genus Plasmodium, the cause of the deadly disease Malaria. The parasite reproduces in the mosquito’s body, female mosquitoes then bite humans to feed on their blood and the parasite is transferred to the human host. As agents of Malaria, mosquitoes indirectly cause the death of close to a million deaths each year. Most mosquito-borne diseases are found in tropical places. However, recently, the risk of getting mosquito-borne diseases in the United States has gone up due to West Nile virus, which could be dangerous for people with weak immune systems.
Additional Pest Information
Appearance – Adult mosquitoes are small flying insects with narrow wings and long legs.
Biology – The female mosquito needs to feed on blood to produce eggs. Depending on the species, the eggs are laid on still, dirty water or plants in water, tree holes, or areas that may flood. Female mosquitoes can be picky on the type of body (mammals, amphibians, birds) that they take blood from, depending on the type of mosquito. When female mosquitoes feed, they inject anticoagulants, which produce the swelling and itchiness on the skin of humans. Places where there is high rainfall and warm temperatures are good for mosquito development.
Prevention – Mosquitoes need water to breed. The best way to help reduce the mosquito population around your home is to get rid of any standing water. Get rid of standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys or any other container. Empty and change the water in birdbaths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted plant trays at least once a week. Drain temporary pools of water or fill with dirt. Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.
Fun Facts about Mosquitoes
1. Only Female Mosquitoes Bite Humans and Animals – Female mosquitoes need protein for their eggs, and require the nutrition of blood for the development of their eggs. Without the regular intake of blood, their ability to reproduce quickly diminishes. Male mosquitoes survive by feeding on flower, nectar, and sweet juices.
2. Mosquitoes Can Detect Carbon Dioxide up to 100 Feet Away – Mosquitoes have developed a keen sensitivity to CO2 in the air. Carbon dioxide, which humans and other animals produce, is the key signal to mosquitoes that a potential blood meal is near.
3. Female Mosquitoes Can Lay up to 300 Eggs at a Time – Eggs can hatch in as little as an inch of standing water. Females will lay eggs up to three times before they die.
4. Mosquitoes Spit is Itchy – When a female mosquito sucks blood, she leaves behind saliva, which serves as an anticoagulant so that she may better feast. The saliva induces an allergic response from her victim’s immune system; that’s why your skin gets an itchy bump.
Do-it-Yourself Mosquito Control At Home
1. Limit Breeding Habitat – Mosquitoes require water to breed. Eliminating stagnant water and very damp areas of your yard will remove the possibility of adult mosquitoes laying eggs. Key areas to check are: gutters, pools, containers, ponds and birdbaths.
2. Plants and Shrubs – Planting various plants will naturally keep mosquitoes away. Plants like Citronella and Lemon Grass, Mint, Marigolds and Neem are well known to naturally repel mosquitoes.
3. Light the Night – Kill two mosquitoes with one stone. Decorate your space with tiki torches for ambiance while keeping the mosquitoes away.