While there are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, there are fewer than 200 species in the United States. Regardless of the number of species, mosquitoes play a significant role in how American communities and individuals enjoy outdoor activities. To what extent you’ll be affected depends on the climate, desirable habitat, and several other factors and variables unique to your region.
Some mosquitoes are a nuisance for leaving itchy, red, and bumpy bites on us while others are a carrier for disease pathogens, such as eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), heartworm disease, Zika, and the #1 reported mosquito-borne disease in the U.S. - West Nile virus.
If mosquitoes are a regular pest where you live, you’ll notice that they’re usually active at certain times. Although it always feels like they choose to invade during your barbecue with family and friends.
What Attracts Mosquitoes to Us?
The carbon dioxide we exhale, components of our perspiration, physical movement, and body warmth attract mosquitoes. Using their long antennae, palps (organs used for detecting scents) and eyes, female mosquitoes can find and pinpoint the location of a blood meal.
Why Do Female Mosquitoes Bite Us?
While both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar for nourishment and sustenance, only the females bite us for a blood meal. After mating, female mosquitoes need to produce eggs. It is from her blood meal that she gets the various proteins and nutrients required for to produce egg batches. A female mosquito will often bite multiple times to get enough blood for all the eggs she wants to lay. It’s during this feeding cycle that she can pass along disease pathogens to her animal or human host.
When Do Mosquitoes Bite Us?
The biting behavior of the mosquito depends on the species. Some species, such as those belonging to the Culex and Anopheles genera, are more active from dusk until dawn. Some species are active for very specific periods of time during those overnight hours. Other mosquito species, mostly belonging to the Aedes genus, are active biters during the day. This makes it important to consider mosquito prevention measures regardless of the time of day.
Where Are Mosquitoes Found?
Mosquito eggs can be found at the edge of a water line or resting on the top of the water’s surface. Larvae hatch out and grow in these water sources, which can include water-collecting depressions, tire ruts, ditches, tree holes, and various artificial habitats created by people. These artificial habitats can include poorly maintained swimming pools, buckets and containers, playground equipment, clogged gutters, and even the catch trays of decorative planters.
Mosquito eggs and larvae
During the day, most mosquitoes can be found resting in cool, shady areas, primarily in dense vegetation or animal burrows and other protected places. They can also be found resting on or inside of buildings.
What Can Homeowners Do to Reduce the Risk of Mosquito Bites?
Below are some tips to help reduce larval habitat and adult harborage areas, prevent mosquitoes from entering your property, and personal protection measures to consider when you are outdoors.
Lawn and Landscaping Maintenance
- Keep grass cut and shrubbery trimmed near the house where adult mosquitoes may rest.
- Water lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for more than five days.
- Keep drains, ditches, and culverts clean of weeds and trash so water can flow properly.
- Fill in, or drain, low spots (puddles, ruts, etc.) in the yard where water collects.
- Fill in tree holes and hollow stumps that hold water with sand or concrete.
- Stock ornamental pools with surface feeding fish such as minnows and goldfish.
Monitor the Exterior of Your Residence
- Clean debris from rain gutters to allow proper drainage.
- Check around outdoor faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks or puddles.
- Check window and door screens to ensure they are in good condition and seal tightly.
- Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools, and septic tanks.
Tip and Toss Water in Utility and Decorative Containers
- Ensure lids of trash and recycling containers are on properly to keep out rainwater.
- Drill small holes in the bottom of these containers to prevent water from collecting if lids are unavailable.
- Dispose of old tires, cans, buckets, bottles, or any other water-holding containers.
- Change the water in pet bowls, birdbaths, watering troughs, plant pots or drip trays at least once per week.
Drain and Cover Outdoor Recreational Equipment and Children's Toys
- Canoes and Boats: Store small boats upside down. Cover large boats tightly.
- Make sure that coverings (boats, pools, compost piles, etc.) are pulled tight and sloped to allow water to drain.
- Empty plastic wading pools at least once per week and store indoors when not in use.
- Make sure your backyard pool is properly cared for while away from the home.
- Drill holes in the bottom of tire swings to allow any water to drain.
Mosquito Prevention Checklist: For You
- Use EPA-approved repellents on skin and clothing (always follow product label directions for use).
- Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants that are loose-fitting for extra protection.
- If you are outdoors at dusk and dawn, when many mosquito species are most active, protect yourself.
- Encourage friends, family, and neighbors to follow these recommendations also.
Understand Existing Mosquito Management Efforts in Your Community
Do you know if your community has an established mosquito management program?
There are many strong integrated mosquito management (IMM) programs across the United States! Check with your local government to learn more about the efforts taking place in your community. Program managers may be able to offer additional details on mosquito species in your community, inform you if disease activity exists, and provide you with mosquito management advice unique to your region. We’ve seen mosquito management programs work with individuals and community groups to organize trash or tire clean-ups, distribute mosquito-eating fish for backyard ponds, visit schools, and more to provide public education and mosquito management support to residents.
Mosquitoes don’t respect geographical boundaries - your mosquito problem can quickly become an issue for your neighbors. It’s important to remember it takes effort by everyone to monitor and reduce mosquito habitat.
If you would like more information about any aspect of an Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM) Plan, including mosquito surveillance, disease testing, adult control, aerial applications, resistance testing, or creating an emergency response plan (major flood event or disease outbreak) - please contact Vector Disease Control International (VDCI).
Founded in 1992 with a single contract in central Arkansas - Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) has grown to have operations in over 20 states and serving customers from coast to coast and abroad. VDCI strives to improve the quality of human life in communities through education, surveillance, and the control of mosquitoes and other disease vectors – including ticks.
We take pride in providing municipalities, city, and state governments as well as mosquito abatement districts and commercial properties with the tools they need to run effective mosquito control programs. Our mosquito management professionals offer supplemental services to existing surveillance and control efforts as well as extensive experience in operating comprehensive programs. As we look towards the future, VDCI maintains our sense of commitment and will strive to provide the most effective and scientifically sound programs based on recommendations by the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many of our mosquito management professionals come from the field of Public Health and have directed mosquito control districts all over the country, from Oregon to New York. At all times, we will conduct business through partnerships with our customers in a manner that protects the environment and the welfare of local residents.
In addition, our team has played an integral role in disaster relief and disease outbreak situations for over 20 years. With our fleet of over 200 trucks and 12 aircraft, VDCI is the only company in the country that can internally manage all aspects of an integrated mosquito management program, from surveillance and disease testing to ground and aerial operations for seasonal needs or emergency response situations.
We are determined to protect the public health of the communities in which we operate.
Contact the professionals at 800.413.4445 for all of your integrated tick and mosquito management needs.