General Information to Help You Enjoy the Outdoors.
Mosquitoes can be found in many parts of the world with about 200 different species in the United States, all living in specific habitats, exhibiting unique behaviors, and biting different types of animals. Only the north and south poles and desert regions are mosquito free.
Mosquitoes are best known for their bug “bites” which are not really bites at all but are an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva – this is what causes the red bump and itching. A more serious consequence of some mosquito bites may be transmission of certain serious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and several forms of encephalitis, including West Nile virus. Mosquitoes can also transmit diseases and parasites to which dogs and horses are very susceptible, including dog heart worms, eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus.
Only female mosquitoes drink the blood of humans and other animals to provide nutrients for her eggs. She uses her proboscis, a long and sharp body part to pierce the skin and suck out blood. Mosquitoes also drink the nectar from flowers and other plants. Male mosquitoes feed exclusively on this.
These pests are part of the same family as houseflies and fruit flies because they all have two clear, veined wings. They are thought of as a summer pest, developing from an egg to adult in 10 to 14 days. Mosquitoes have a very short life span, living only about 14 days or less. However, in that time, the female may lay her eggs 4 or 5 times, laying dozens to hundreds each time.
Mosquitoes breed in soft, moist soil or stagnant water sources such as storm drains, old tires, children’s wading pools, and birdbaths. They live in warm, damp parts of forests, grasslands, swamps, and mountains. They lay their eggs in water, hatching in a few days. The larvae look like very small worms and are often eaten by fish. Eventually they become pupae and the adult body is formed.
Even in complete darkness, a mosquito is able to detect body heat and carbon dioxide, the gas that we breathe out. Mosquitoes bite some people and leave other people alone. Scientists believe this might have to do with one’s body chemistry as mosquitoes are attracted by sweat, body heat, perspiration, perfume, and scented soaps.
Remove Mosquito Habitats
- Empty all containers that hold water, such as rain gutters, old tires, flower pots, buckets plastic covers, etc.
- Empty and change water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week to eliminate potential mosquito habitats.
- Remove trash from around any standing water.
- Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.
Prevent Exposure to Mosquitoes
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin anytime you are around mosquitoes. DEET does not kill the mosquitoes, it just disorients them and they look elsewhere for food.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants if you venture into an area with high mosquito populations such as salt marshes. Tuck your shirt into pants and pants into socks to cover gaps in your clothing where mosquitoes can get to your skin.
- When sleeping outdoors or in areas where mosquito populations are heavy, surround your bed with “mosquito” netting.
- Stay indoors at sunrise, early in the evening, and at sunset when mosquitoes are most active, especially if there is a mosquito-borne disease warning in effect.
- Replace outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights, which tend to attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights.
- Cover all gaps in walls, doors, and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering.
Use Insect Repellents Safely
Commercially available repellents can be purchased as creams, lotions, or in pressurized cans and applied directly to the skin and clothing. Some manufacturers also offer clothing impregnated with repellents; coarse, repellent -bearing particles to be scattered on the ground; and candles whose wicks can be lit to release a repellent chemical. The effectiveness of all repellents varies from location to location, from person to person, and from mosquito to mosquito. Repellents can be especially effective in recreation areas, where mosquito control may not be conducted. All repellents should be used according to instructions.
- Follow the label direction to ensure proper use.
- Repellents should be applied only to exposed skin and / or clothing. Do not use under clothing.
- Store repellents safely out of the reach of children, in a locked utility cabinet or garden shed.
- Do not apply near eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around the ears.
- When using sprays, do not spray directly into the face; spray on hands first and then apply to the face.
- Never use repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
- Do not spray in enclosed areas. Avoid breathing a spray product, and do not use near food.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin and clothes with soap and water.
- Do not use any product on pets or other animals unless the label clearly states it is for animals.
Use Insecticides Safely
Several commercially available insecticides can be effective in controlling larval and adult mosquitoes. These chemicals are considered sufficiently safe for use by the public. Select a product whose label states that the material is effective against mosquito larvae or adults. For safe and effective use, follow the instructions for applying the material. Read the label!
For use against adult mosquitoes, some liquid insecticides can be mixed according to direction and sprayed lightly on building foundations, hedges, low shrubbery, ground covers, and grasses. Do not over apply liquid insecticides as the excess spray drips from the sprayed surfaces to the ground where it is ineffective. The purpose of such sprays is to leave a fine deposit of insecticide on surfaces where mosquitoes rest. Such sprays are not effective for more than one or two days.
Some insecticides are available as premixed products or aerosol cans. These devices spray the insecticide as very small droplets that remain floating in the air and hit the flying mosquitoes. Apply the spray upwind, so the droplets drift through the area where mosquito control is desired. Rather than applying too much of these aerosols initially, it is more practical to apply them briefly but periodically thereby eliminating those mosquitoes that recently flew into the area.
The Town contracts with the County to spray the entire Town. This is a bi-weekly spraying which is done when the temperature is below 85o and when the wind does not exceed 10 mph. Spraying usually takes place in the evening or early morning to minimize exposure to the public. Adverse weather conditions may sometimes cause a backlog in the County’s spraying program. The County may place pellet cakes in areas where there is standing water to eliminate eggs. Mosquito eggs can lay dormant for up to five years before they hatch.
Additional information about mosquitoes, their life cycle, insecticides, and repellents may be found at:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – West Nile Virus – Frequently Asked Questions