There are more than 2,700 species of mosquitoes in the world. Of these, most mosquitoes belong to three species:
Aedes – These are sometimes called “floodwater” mosquitoes because flooding is important for their eggs to hatch. Aedes mosquitoes have abdomens with pointed tips. They include such species as the yellow-fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). They are strong fliers, capable of travelling great distances (up to 75 miles/121 km) from their breeding sites. They persistently bite mammals (especially humans), mainly at dawn and in the early evening. Their bites are painful.
Anopheles – These tend to breed in bodies of permanent fresh water. Anopheles mosquitoes also have abdomens with pointed tips. They include several species, such as the common malaria mosquito (Anopheles quadrimaculatus), that can spread malaria in humans.
Culex – These tend to breed in quiet, standing water. Culex mosquitoes have abdomens with blunt tips. They include several species such as the northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens). They are weak fliers and tend to live for only a few weeks during the summer months. They persistently bite (preferring birds over humans) and attack at dawn or after dusk. Their bite is painful.
Some mosquitoes, such as the cattail mosquito (Coquilettidia perturbans), are becoming more prevalent pests.These pests are part of the same family as houseflies and fruit flies because they all have two clear, veined wings.
Best known as a summer pest, Mosquitoes can develop from egg to adult in 10 to 14 days.
We usually say, “I have been bitten by a mosquito”, but this is not completely true. Mosquitoes do not bite. Female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar and blood. They need the protein to reproduce. To get to the blood, they pierce our skin with their “proboscis” and suck our blood. Male mosquitoes feed exclusively on plant nectars. Mosquitoes are busiest at night and will fly up to 14 miles for a blood meal. They hunt for food by detecting body heat and carbon dioxide, the gas we breathe out.
Mosquitoes breed in soft, moist soil or stagnant water sources such as storm drains, old tyres, children’s wading pools and birdbaths.
Mosquitoes spread diseases such as West Nile Virus, Malaria and Dengue Fever.
- Replace all objects with stagnant water at least once a week.
- Remove trash from around any standing water.
- When sleeping outdoors or in areas where mosquito populations are heavy, surround your bed with mosquito nets.
- Screen windows, doors and other openings with fine mesh.
- Use insect repellents containing DEET on exposed skin any time you’re around mosquitoes. DEET doesn’t kill the mosquitoes, it just disorients them and they look elsewhere for food.