While warmer temperatures may mean more time outside and enjoying the great outdoors, mosquitoes and can put a damper on the fun. Mosquito bites can leave itchy marks in their wake, not to mention that some mosquitoes have been known to spread disease. Learn more about these pests, what attracts mosquitoes and how to best keep them at bay.
What is a mosquito?
Mosquito is a name given to a group of common flying insects. There are more than 3,500 types of mosquitoes in the world. Most mosquito bites result in itching and swelling around the area of the bite in humans.
Mosquitoes can live inside and outside and they can bite day or night, depending on the type of mosquito. Only female mosquitoes bite because they need a blood meal to produce eggs, however, both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant sap for general nutritional needs. After a mosquito hatches, it can live anywhere from two to four weeks, depending on the conditions.
The mosquitoes that can spread pathogens to people or animals are called vectors. They can pick up viruses and parasites when they bite people or animals that are infected. When you are bitten by an infected mosquito, you may be at risk for becoming sick.
What do mosquitoes look like?
There are some easy ways to identify mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have six legs and a pair of wings they use to fly. Their bodies are divided into three parts: head, thorax and abdomen. Most adult mosquitoes range in size from one-quarter to one-half of an inch.
Mosquitoes' heads are equipped with antennae to detect the movement of air. Mosquitoes also have two eyes that can detect movement. One part of a mosquito that you may see with the naked eye is the straw-like structure that it uses to suck flower nectar or fruit juice, making them easy to identify.
What are the differences between male and female mosquitoes?
There are several differences between male and female mosquitoes.
Male mosquitoes are smaller and have hairier antennae than females. Males do not bite and cannot spread disease. Their proboscis, the straw-like structure used for feeding, is not strong enough to pierce the skin.
Female mosquitoes are the ones that bite because they need blood protein for the development of their eggs.
Mosquito reproduction and lifecycle
Mosquitoes undergo four different life stages, with the first three happening near or in water. Adult mosquitoes usually mate in the air when a female flies into a swarm of males. The female stores and nurtures the sperm inside her body until she is ready to ovulate. She releases the sperm in time to fertilize the descending eggs. After a blood meal, a female mosquito can lay around 100 eggs at a time.
The four stages of the mosquito lifecycle are:
- Egg – Female mosquitoes lay eggs near water, but not underwater. A small container with just a few drops of water is enough to attract a mosquito to lay her eggs.
- Larvae – Nourished by microorganisms in water, mosquito larva emerge from the eggs once they are submerged.
- Pupae – Larva molt three times before becoming pupae. The adult mosquito develops inside the pupa.
- Adult – Flying for the first time in its life, the adult mosquito looks for food and a place to reproduce right away.
Where do mosquitoes prefer to breed?
Mosquito larvae and pupae live in still water, so mosquitoes are attracted to wet areas for reproduction. Some types of mosquitoes prefer permanent water. They lay their eggs near the edges of ponds and lakes. Permanent water mosquitoes may reproduce in swamps or marshes.
Floodwater mosquitoes look for temporary pools or containers to lay their eggs. They might lay eggs in irrigated fields and meadows or tree holes that collect rainwater. The eggs dry out and wait for a flood. When the water rises and covers them, they hatch.
Your backyard – with water features, damp areas, flower pot saucers and other areas where water collects – can be an ideal mosquito breeding ground.
How long do mosquitoes live?
The lifecycle of a mosquito is brief but busy. Mosquito eggs can remain viable for a few months in dry conditions waiting for water to flood them and cause them to hatch. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae can develop into pupae in about five days. The pupae stage takes another two to three days, and then the mosquito is an adult flying insect.
Once a mosquito becomes an adult, it can live for two to four weeks. The female mosquitoes tend to live a little longer than the males, giving them more time to reproduce. On average, one female mosquito can lay about 100 eggs, three times in its lifetime.
What do mosquitoes eat?
The food pyramid for mosquitoes is fairly simple.
Male mosquitoes eat only nectar and fruit juices. They do not bite people or animals. Their bodies use the sugar from their food to produce energy for survival.
In addition to nectar, female mosquitoes must consume protein. They get the protein they need to produce eggs from blood. Depending on the type of mosquito, the female will bite people or animals or both.
What are mosquito bite signs and symptoms on humans?
The itch of a mosquito bite may lead you to wonder what it's all about.
Mosquito bites are a common occurrence, especially on children in warm weather. The area where the mosquito pierces the skin can become red, swollen and itchy. According to the Mayo Clinic, other characteristics of mosquito bites may include:
- Small blisters
- Hard reddish-brown bumps
- Dark spots that resemble bruises
- Puffy white and reddish bumps
Children, or adults not previously exposed to the type of mosquito that bit them, may also experience:
- A slight fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A large area of redness and swelling
Why Do Mosquitoes Bite?
Female mosquitoes cannot reproduce without the protein in blood. For female mosquitoes, biting is a survival instinct. Mosquitoes require a specific protein derived from blood in order to breed. When mosquitoes are biting, they're preparing to breed.
What attracts mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes seem to know what they need and will fly right up your pants leg to get it. The females have a receptor that detects carbon dioxide, a gas that every human exhales. Studies show that these same receptors also make it easy for mosquitoes to find bare skin by smell.
Mosquitoes are also attracted to the smell of human sweat, which contains lactic acid, a compound found in fruit juice. Their complex sense of smell helps them find food. A blood meal is essential to the reproduction activities of a female mosquito.
Why do mosquitoes bite some people more than others?
It is true, mosquitoes are more attracted to certain people. The difference in attraction has to do with the scents people exude. Factors like metabolism rate and blood type affect how attractive you may be to mosquitoes.
Studies show that pregnant women are more attractive to mosquitoes. That is likely because pregnant women exhale 21% more carbon dioxide, excrete a higher level of substances like lactic acid, and have a higher body temperature.
Age and blood type seem to be other factors in mosquito attraction. One study showed that in a controlled environment, women received more bites than children. Another study found that mosquitoes exhibited a different rate of attraction to people with different blood types. The discrepancy was attributed to the varying levels of metabolites in blood of different types.
All the studies concerning who is more attractive to mosquitoes point to their highly developed sense of smell. Mosquitoes are not only attracted to human sweat, but they can distinguish different compounds on the skin that they prefer.
Why do mosquito bites itch?
A mosquito bites you by inserting a straw-like structure into your skin and sucking out a tiny amount of blood. During the process of biting, the mosquito injects some of her saliva into your skin. Your reaction to the saliva is what causes the bite to itch. People's reactions to mosquito bites vary. Some find them only mildly itchy while others require treatment for a severe itch.
How to treat mosquito bites?
Medical experts at the CDC suggest a couple treatments for mosquito bites depending on how uncomfortable the condition is. Washing with soap and water and applying an ice pack for 10 minutes should help reduce the swelling and itching. An over-the-counter anti-itch cream or a homemade poultice of baking soda and water can be applied for persistent itching.
Most mosquito bite symptoms will resolve on their own in a couple of days, according to the Mayo Clinic. If the bites are accompanied by headache, body aches, fever or signs of infection, it is best to seek medical treatment. Some mosquitoes can spread germs, although not everyone infected by a mosquito gets sick.
How to prevent mosquito bites?
Perhaps the best way to deal with mosquito bites and potential adverse reactions is to avoid getting bitten in the first place. The CDC recommends preventing mosquito bites by using insect repellent. There are several substances known to repel mosquitoes and available to the consumer. The CDC warns that you should always follow the instructions on the label of insect repellent products.
Other CDC-recommended prevention measures include:
- Wearing long pants and long sleeves
- Using mosquito netting when appropriate
- Treating boots, tents and other gear with permethrin
- Applying sunscreen before insect repellent
The CDC also recommends the use of air conditioning and screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside. Eliminate standing water around your home so mosquitoes don't have a place to lay eggs.
What health risks or diseases come from mosquitoes?
There are a variety of diseases and health risks that may accompany a mosquito bite.
How dangerous are mosquito bites and related diseases?
Mosquitoes are considered vectors, which means they may carry pathogens that can transmit disease from one human or animal to another. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vectors cause more than 700,000 deaths annually worldwide by spreading infectious diseases. Malaria and dengue are two of the most prevalent diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
Other diseases carried by mosquitoes include:
- Chikungunya fever
- Yellow fever (or malaria)
- Dengue fever
- West Nile disease
- Japanese encephalitis
Most of these diseases are rare and few cases are found within the U.S., apart from the West Nile virus.
What are common types of mosquitoes?
There are four types of mosquitoes common to the U.S.: southern house, northern house, Asian tiger, and yellow fever.
The southern house mosquito is common in tropical regions, including the southern states of the U.S. They are especially active at night and can carry pathogens that affect humans. In the southern states of the U.S., the southern house mosquito is the primary vector of St. Louis encephalitis virus.
Also capable of transmitting the St. Louis encephalitis virus, the northern house mosquito lives throughout most of the U.S., overlapping slightly in territory with the southern house mosquito. Northern house mosquitoes also feed mostly after dark. They can survive through the cold weather in caves, sheds, basements and culverts.
The Asian tiger mosquito was first discovered in the U.S. in Texas in 1986, then in Florida in 1987. Since then, Asian tiger mosquitoes have spread out across the southeastern quadrant of the U.S. They can also be found in New York and Arizona. This medium-size mosquito is easily distinguished by its shiny black scales and silver-white markings. Though it is capable of transmitting pathogens for disease, the Asian tiger mosquito is not considered a serious public health threat.
Primarily active during the day, the yellow fever mosquito has lived in the U.S. for centuries. Yellow fever mosquitoes live in containers of stagnant water, especially in urban areas in South Florida and 23 other southern states. Yellow fever mosquitoes resemble the Asian tiger mosquito, except the markings on the thorax of the yellow fever variety are harp-shaped instead of straight.
Where do mosquitoes live?
While mosquitoes like water, you'll find more living around stagnant water than you will in lakes and streams. Beneficial predators in permanent bodies of water tend to keep the mosquitoes away.
Out of the 200 different species of mosquitoes that live in the U.S., most live near swamps or temporary pools and puddles. Mosquitoes can lay their eggs anyplace where water might collect, such as:
- Old tires
- Plastic covers
- Tree holes
- Bottle caps
- Bird baths and water features
When are mosquitoes most active?
Throughout most of the country, mosquito season begins in the summer and continues into the fall. In the warmer southern states, mosquitoes could be active all year.
Most mosquitoes are more active at night, partly because it allows them to avoid damage from the sun and daytime predators. Mosquitoes tend to become more active around dusk. After mating, the female mosquito is less active for several days until she lays her eggs.
Where are mosquitoes common in the U.S.?
Mosquitoes live all over the U.S. but are more common in areas with warm moist air. This includes the southern states and other areas where there is still or stagnant water. Because mosquitoes can live indoors, and they feed on blood from humans and animals, they live wherever you live.
How to keep mosquitoes away?
To avoid problems with mosquitoes, start by keeping them away from your house. Remove standing water around your house where mosquitoes might like to lay eggs. Try taking these steps:
- Clean out water containers every week. This includes birdbaths, flower pot saucers, toys and buckets.
- Eliminate unnecessary containers in your yard that could hold water such as old tires, empty flower pots and broken toys. Repair cracks and gaps in your septic tank so mosquitoes cannot get in and lay eggs.
- Cover all water storage containers tightly.
- Fill tree holes so they cannot collect water.
- Put a wire mesh over the rain barrel with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
To control mosquitoes inside your house, keep doors and windows closed unless they have a screen, and use air conditioning whenever possible. You should also destroy potential mosquito eggs by scrubbing any open container that has water in it every week. Flowerpots and vases are two common sources of moisture inside your house that invite mosquitoes.
How Terminix treats mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are small and multiply rapidly. They also have the potential to carry pathogens that can cause disease. If you have a problem with mosquitoes around your house, the best thing to do is hire a professional. Contact Terminix for a free inspection today.
Mosquitoes don't have teeth because they don't eat solids.How many hearts does a mosquito have? ›
Contrary to widespread misinformation, a mosquito has a single heart, but it doesn't function like a human heart. Like other insects, mosquito hearts have two sections – an abdominal heart and a thoracic aorta. The heart pumps a substance called hemolymph, a compound that functions like our blood.Which mosquito gender bites? ›
Facts About Mosquitoes
Only female mosquitoes bite people and animals to get a blood meal. Female mosquitoes need a blood meal to produce eggs.
Male mosquitoes will live only 6 or 7 days on average, feeding primarily on plant nectar, and do not take blood meals. Females with an adequate food supply can live up to 5 months or longer, with the average female life span being about 6 weeks.Do mosquitoes have a heart? ›
The mosquito doesn't have arteries and veins like mammals. Instead, the blood flows from the heart into the abdominal cavity and eventually cycles back through the heart. “The mosquito's heart works something like the pump in a garden fountain,” Hillyer said.How old is the oldest mosquito? ›
Likewise, in 2013, scientists found fossilized evidence of an ancient, blood-engorged mosquito determined to be approximately 46 million years old.Do mosquitoes have DNA? ›
These results showed that DNA isolated from mosquitoes is qualitatively and quantitatively sufficient for DNA typing and could be helpful to identify individuals involved in certain cases of body violence or captivity.Do mosquitoes have memory? ›
A study published last month in the journal Current Biology shows that mosquitoes have the ability to learn and remember what their hosts smell like. Remember thinking they were out to get you? You weren't wrong.What color is mosquito blood? ›
Typically, hemolymph is clear to yellowish in color, with its only pigmentation coming from plants and other materials ingested by the insect.Can a mosquito see in the dark? ›
Yes, mosquitoes can see you in the dark. They have excellent night vision and can detect objects at low light far better than humans can.
The short answer as to why mosquitoes go after feet and ankles is that our feet often carry a strong odor. Yes, stinky feet attract mosquitoes.What do mosquitoes hate? ›
Mosquitoes are turned off by several natural scents: cinnamon, peppermint, cedar, citronella, lemongrass, patchouli, catnip, lavender, and more. Find a favorite, and use it when you want to spend time outside.Do mosquitoes sleep at night? ›
When they aren't flying to locate a host to feed on, mosquitoes sleep, or rather rest, and are inactive unless disturbed. Some hide during the daytime, while others, such as the Asian tiger mosquito prefers to rest up at night.Where do mosquitoes go after they bite you? ›
Mosquitoes, on the other hand pierce the skin with a proboscis, or mouthpiece. When the mosquito is done feeding, it doesn't leave the proboscis — or any other part of itself — behind. That means it flies away, full but unharmed.What kills mosquitoes inside the house? ›
Use an indoor insect fogger or indoor insect spray to kill mosquitoes and treat areas where they rest. These products work immediately, and may need to be reapplied. When using insecticides, always follow label directions. Only using insecticide will not keep your home free of mosquitoes.Where do mosquitoes hide in bedroom? ›
Mosquitoes can hide anywhere, but you'll likely find them in your bedroom. They seek out narrow, dark areas where you won't easily see them. Then, they wait until you're sleeping before going on the attack.What is the world's craziest fact? ›
Snails have been known to sleep up to three years if the weather isn't moist enough to meet their needs. Honeybees flap their wings 230 times every second. At birth, a panda cub is smaller than a mouse and weighs only four ounces. Horses and cows can sleep standing up, but they can only dream when lying down.Do mosquitoes eat dead? ›
There's a reason for this, and no, it isn't that one person tastes better. The answer is carbon dioxide. Mosquitos are scavengers and play an important role in decomposition. As a dead animal decomposes, it emits carbon dioxide, and that attracts mosquitos to the area for the food source.Do mosquitoes feel sad? ›
As far as entomologists are concerned, insects do not have pain receptors the way vertebrates do. They don't feel 'pain,' but may feel irritation and probably can sense if they are damaged. Even so, they certainly cannot suffer because they don't have emotions.Can mosquitoes see you? ›
Mosquitoes can see; however, like most other insects, they generally do not get as clear an image of things as humans and many of their other vertebrate hosts. Nevertheless, they successfully use their other senses to more than make up for their visual shortfalls.
While this might seem possible at first glance, it's highly unlikely that scientists could find usable dinosaur DNA in mosquito fossils. Scientists would need a very specific specimen -- a female mosquito that had consumed lots of dinosaur blood immediately before landing in tree resin.Are mosquitoes out at 70? ›
Since mosquitoes are cold-blooded insects, temperature and relative humidity dictate their activities. Adult mosquitoes are most active between 59-90 degrees Fahrenheit with an optimal flying temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.Has dinosaur DNA been found in mosquitoes? ›
Scientists have described the first-ever fossil to be found with a blood meal inside its abdomen - a highly improbable find. In 1993, a fictional scientist plucked dinosaur DNA from an amber-wrapped mosquito flush with its last victim's blood.How long does blood stay inside a mosquito? ›
By examining DNA in blood digested by two different species of mosquito over a range of times after feeding, the team was able to trace back blood samples to individual volunteers, even after two days of digesting in the mosquito. After roughly three days the mosquitoes completely digested the blood.How long does blood stay in mosquito? ›
Only the Females Bite
When an adult mosquito emerges from the pupal stage they mate, and the female seeks a blood meal to obtain the protein necessary for the laying of her eggs. After a blood meal, it takes 3-5 days for blood to be digested and the eggs to develop.
Mosquitoes can hear over distances much greater than anyone suspected, according to new research. Mosquitoes can hear over distances much greater than anyone suspected, according to researchers at Cornell and Binghamton University. Their findings were published in the journal Current Biology.When should you slap a mosquito? ›
Killing Mosquitoes Before They Make You Miserable
One of the best surfaces, advised Dorothy, is the arm or neck. Wait until they land and start biting and then swat them, she said. "Then they are less likely to fly away."
There is no limit to the number of mosquito bites one of the insects can inflict. A female mosquito will continue to bite and feed on blood until she is full. After they have consumed enough blood, the mosquito will rest for a couple of days (usually between two to three days) before laying her eggs.Do mosquitoes have a purpose? ›
Mosquitoes are Pollinators
Just like bees or butterflies, mosquitoes transfer pollen from flower to flower as they feed on nectar, fertilizing plants and allowing them to form seeds and reproduce. It's only when a female mosquito lays eggs does she seek a blood meal for the protein.
Myth #2: A biting mosquito will explode if you flex
Despite how strangely satisfying that would be to see, the only way to make a mosquito physically burst from too much blood is to sever its ventral nerve cord. Unfortunately, this cannot be done by simply flexing your guns.
Certain colors repel mosquitoes. If you don't want to become a mosquito's next meal, try wearing lighter, more subdued hues. White, beige, khaki, pastel yellow, and even soft gray are good options.Can mosquitoes survive in AC? ›
“The ideal temperature for mosquito breeding is in the range of 24-28 degrees Celsius and many a times, air conditioners inside houses are set at a temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, which helps in breeding and survival of the dengue-transmitting Aedes mosquitoes,” said Dr Ramesh C Dhiman, senior consultant at DST- ...What smell attracts mosquitoes? ›
“Mosquitoes can be attracted to floral smells, like floral perfume,” she explains. “If you're going to be in an area that will potentially have mosquitoes, don't wear floral, smelly perfume.” Cutting back on alcohol can also be helpful, Dobrinska says. “Drinking alcohol makes some people sweat more,” he explains.Why do my mosquito bites swell so big? ›
As the mosquito is feeding, it injects saliva into your skin. Your body reacts to the saliva resulting in a bump and itching. Some people have only a mild reaction to a bite or bites. Other people react more strongly, and a large area of swelling, soreness, and redness can occur.Do mosquitoes prefer females? ›
While many think they are more attracted to the sweeter sex due to women's higher estrogen levels, the fact is that gender does play a role but not in the way most people think. As one report in the Annals of Internal Medicine points out, men are more likely to be attacked, primarily because of their body size.Should you let a mosquito finish? ›
No. The greater the time the mosquito is allowed to feed, the more saliva she'll inject into the skin. Allowing her to feed longer will increase your reaction to the saliva and enhance the risk of infection from mosquito-borne pathogens.What animal kills mosquitoes? ›
Dragonflies. Dragonflies as well as being a natural predator of the mosquito are a fascinating and unique group of insects.Do mosquitoes hate fans? ›
The short answer is yes, fans can actually work to help deter mosquitoes. According to research, the speed of the fan can help deter mosquitoes, which are naturally weak fliers.What skin do mosquitoes hate? ›
Mosquitoes hate peppermint much like wasps and other common pests. Lavender – Lavender is not only an effective mosquito repellent, it's also touted as a powerful ointment to relieve itchy mosquito bites. This oil has a pleasant floral scent and is the safest choice for children.At what temperature do mosquitoes not bite? ›
Mosquitoes function best at 80 degrees F, become lethargic at 60 degrees F, and cannot function below 50 degrees F. In tropical areas, mosquitoes are active year round.
If the rain gets particularly heavy, mosquitoes do seek shelter. They will often hide under the backside of leaves until the rain lets up. They also search for dark places where they can be protected from falling rain. This shelters them and protects them from drowning during periods of heavy rain.How do mosquito find you? ›
Female mosquitoes have nerve cells called cpA neurons that have a receptor to detect carbon dioxide. This enables them to sense the plumes of air we exhale. But mosquitoes are still attracted to human skin even in the absence of carbon dioxide.What is unique about mosquitoes? ›
Mosquitoes can hibernate.
At temperatures less than 50 degrees, they shut down. The adult females of some species find holes where they wait for warmer weather, while others lay their eggs in freezing water and die. The eggs keep until the temperatures rise, and they can hatch.
Mosquitoes are known as 'vectors” for several harmful diseases such as Malaria, Zika and Dengue. It is believed that as a result of this, mosquitoes are responsible for around 1 million deaths per year!Do mosquitoes have heart? ›
The mosquito doesn't have arteries and veins like mammals. Instead, the blood flows from the heart into the abdominal cavity and eventually cycles back through the heart. “The mosquito's heart works something like the pump in a garden fountain,” Hillyer said.Do mosquitoes need sleep? ›
Mosquitoes in the lab sleep a lot — between 16 and 19 hours a day depending on the species and the stimulation around them. Recognizing a sleeping mosquito takes some skill. When they're not looking for food, mosquitoes perch for long periods of time to conserve energy.What are mosquitoes weaknesses? ›
Mosquitoes tend to be weak flyers, and the strong breeze from a fan can keep them from landing on you (though you'll need a pretty strong fan speed for it to be truly effective, notes Markowski).Can the earth survive without mosquitoes? ›
The eradication of mosquitoes might please humans in the short term, but would eventually damage many ecosystems due to a cascade of negative consequences as more and more species were affected. A better plan might be to eradicate the disease-causing parasites that use mosquitoes as a vector.Why did God create mosquitoes? ›
They very efficiently glean the energy they need from plant nectar and the protein they need for reproduction through the blood of other animals (humans included). It's no wonder that mosquitoes have survived in creation so long. Will there be mosquitoes in the new heaven and new earth?What do mosquitoes do at night? ›
When they aren't flying to locate a host to feed on, mosquitoes sleep, or rather rest, and are inactive unless disturbed. Some hide during the daytime, while others, such as the Asian tiger mosquito prefers to rest up at night.
Why Is Mosquito Control Important? Some mosquitoes are harmful and can spread viruses like West Nile, dengue, Zika, and parasites like malaria. Other mosquitoes bother people and are considered “nuisance” mosquitoes. Nuisance mosquitoes bite people, but don't spread germs.Do mosquitoes have memories? ›
A study published last month in the journal Current Biology shows that mosquitoes have the ability to learn and remember what their hosts smell like. Remember thinking they were out to get you? You weren't wrong.Do mosquitoes like air conditioning? ›
Cold, dry air is a distinct turn-off for mosquitoes who prefer warm, damp conditions. Great news! An AC unit circulates the air around the room which achieves two important things: Firstly, the moving air inhibits the ability of flying insects to fly in a straight line and hit their target.Do mosquitoes do anything good? ›
Believe it or not, mosquitoes are pollinators. In fact, mosquitoes' primary food source is flower nectar, not blood. Just like bees or butterflies, mosquitoes transfer pollen from flower to flower as they feed on nectar, fertilizing plants and allowing them to form seeds and reproduce.