Mosquitoes are the most common and wide-spread of the numerous kinds of bloodsucking insects that annoy man, other mammals, and birds. Some species are annoying in the daytime, though most mosquitoes are evening feeders. They can make potential recreational areas unsuitable and interfere with normal living and business activities. In addition to the economic impact and discomfort attributed to these pests, they successfully transmit a number of disease agents to man.
In Ohio, the primary concern is with several different types of encephalitis that may be transmitted by mosquitoes, as well as a type of filariasis, known as dog heartworm, that may infect our pets. In other areas, mosquitoes may transmit such deadly diseases as malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and human filariasis.
Only the female mosquito feeds on blood. Both sexes will feed on nectar and plant juices to obtain the nourishment necessary for flight and other activities. Some mosquito-borne diseases, such as LaCrosse virus, may be passed by infected females to their offspring. In this way, male mosquitoes can become infected and involved in the disease cycle. It has also been discovered that male mosquitoes can transmit disease to uninfected female mosquitoes during the mating process.
Mosquitoes have four distinct stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Water is essential for the larval and pupal stages. It takes about 7 to 10 days for mosquitoes to complete their life cycle during the summer months. The eggs of some mosquito species survive the Toledo-area’s cold winters and hatch in March or April in woodland pools left by melting snow. These mosquitoes will produce only one batch of eggs that will not hatch until the following spring.
The Toledo-area’s most serious pest mosquitoes also live over winter as eggs; and, depending on the frequency of rainfall, may produce several generations of mosquitoes during the summer. Other mosquito species may pass the winter in the adult stage in protected places and later lay their eggs directly on the surface of standing water. These mosquitoes will hatch throughout the summer as new eggs are produced.
Mosquito larvae and pupae may be found in a variety of breeding places:
floodwaters, ditches, storm-sewer catch basins, tree holes, rain barrels,
discarded automobile tires, and in practically all types of artificial
Although mosquito larvae get there food from the water in which they live, they must come to the surface for air or, in the case of one species, obtain air from the underwater portion of plants.
HOW CAN I HELP REDUCE MOSQUITOES IN MY AREA?
You can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home neighborhood by eliminating places where they lay their eggs. Young mosquitoes are aquatic, and they must have standing water to develop from egg to adult. Here are some simple steps you can take:
- Dispose of open containers which can fill with water
- Properly dispose of discarded tires.
- Empty birds baths and fill with fresh water at least once a week.
- Check and clean clogged roof gutters at least twice annually so they will drain properly.
- Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.
- Turn over wheelbarrows.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
- Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
- Children’s toys and tarps covering cars, boat, and other equipment can also hold water.
- Cover trash containers to prevent rainwater accumulation.
- Tarp boats and canoes or turn them over.
- Keep ditches and streams adjoining your property free of grass clippings, garbage, and other debris, which will obstruct the natural flow of water.
- Fill in tree-rot holes with cement.
- Cover rain barrels with screening.
- Tightly cover wells, septic tanks, cisterns, and cesspools.
REMEMBER: It only takes 4 days of standing stagnant water to breed mosquitoes.
HOW CAN I PREVENT BEING BITTEN BY MOSQUITOES?
These following actions will reduce your chances of being bitten by mosquitoes.
- Wear light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts or jackets, and long slacks.
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure.
- Avoid mosquito-infested areas or stay indoors when mosquitoes are active.
- Avoid physical exertion
- Use colognes and perfumes sparingly.
- Use mosquito repellent. DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) remains the standard by which all other repellents are measured. DEET was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was registered for use by the general public in the 1950s. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that all family members over the age of two months can use DEET-based repellents with up to 30% concentration with confidence. Several companies offer products with a reduced concentration of DEET for children.
- Some common brands of insect repellent are:
- Off! and Deep Woods Off!
- Ben's 100
- Cutter’s Advanced (contains a new repellent, picaridin)
- Repel (contains a natural repellent, lemon-eucalyptus)
- Permanone Tick Repellent (contains Permethrin insecticide)
Read and follow label directions especially with products using DEET. Read the ingredients list on the container.