There are more than 2500 species of mosquitoes in the world and about 150 of those live in the United States. Carriers of diseases, they have killed more people in history than all wars combined yet 99% of all mosquito problems are associated with just 10 species.
How Mosquitoes Breed:
Key fact: Mosquitoes MUST have water in order to reproduce. For prevention purposes, eliminating undisturbed pools of water is paramount. And it can be minute amounts of water – merely a tablespoon in an upside down leaf is adequate to support mosquito reproduction.
Only females feed on the blood of animals and typically must have a blood meal in order to produce eggs. Their life expectancy is about a month in which time they can lay hundreds of eggs. The males feed on plant juices only (not animals) and their life expectancy is only about one week. Typically mosquitoes do not venture far from where they hatch.
Females lay eggs in water and soon larvae hatch and then wriggle around in the water feeding on microorganisms. They come to the surface for air using a snorkel-like breathing apparatus. These larvae become pupae and from the pupae emerge the adults and the entire process from egg to adult lasts no more than a week, often just several days.
Females locate their prey by sense of smell as they are attracted to the carbon dioxide as animals exhale. They feed on humans; domesticated animals, such as cattle, horses, goats, etc; all types of birds including chickens; all types of wild animals including deer, rabbits; and interestingly, they also feed on snakes, lizards, frogs, and toads. So it isn’t just warm blooded animals, it is anything with blood to supply the protein necessary for procreation.
Many diseases are carried by mosquitoes and the incidence of vector diseases crossing species is growing at an alarming rate. EEE, or Eastern Equine Encephalitis has a 35% mortality rate if a person contracts the disease. West Nile Virus (WNV) is also transmitted by mosquitoes and approximately 1 in 150 humans who are bitten by a WNV infected mosquito will develop severe symptoms which can lead to permanent neurological damage and even death.
How to Prevent Mosquitoes Bites:
Eliminate breeding opportunities. Again, the amount of standing water necessary is minimal and therefore great diligence is required. At the average residence outdoor grills and their covers, toys, decorative lawn objects, and belongings left outside provide ample opportunity to lay eggs. Through inspection and elimination of these areas reduces mosquito populations drastically and every homeowner should periodically inspect.
Mosquitoes often prefer to feed beginning around dusk so that is when numbers can increase. Moving through a typically undisturbed area often stirs the mosquitoes up so those who work outdoors in landscaping, surveying, construction, etc. are not only more susceptible as they are outside, but the very nature of the work can put them at higher risk. If possible, avoid these circumstances to minimize risk. If you must be outside, it is prudent to wear long sleeves and pants to cover as much skin surface are as possible.
There are other prevention products available that emit smoke, attract and zap mosquitoes plus there are ample options for candles, torches, etc. All of these options have a place however, there are often far more negatives either through cost, level of effectiveness, or potential danger to contend with than benefits provided.
Therefore, the solution falls to mosquito repellents. Numerous repellents are available ranging from home grown remedies such as eating garlic to the most toxic pesticides including those with Picaridin, Permethrin, and those containing up to 100% DEET. These active ingredients have been indisputably linked to severe health issues such as Autism, Asthma, Cancer, Diabetes, Birth Defects, MS, Alzheimer’s, Learning Disabilities, etc., it is wise to avoid these at all costs. Not only are they proven to cause human ailments, the nature of synthetic pesticides is that pests quickly become immune. Therefore, the pesticide toxicity levels increase for more harm to humans yet pests are affected less.
Natural products made with essential oils are the safest and best bet to repel. Certain formulations including citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, cedar oil, lemongrass oil, lavender oil and sandalwood oil have varying degrees of effectiveness against mosquitoes and for different body chemistry. Some of these oils are strictly a mosquito repellent and some kill mosquitoes so thorough research is recommended to find the most effective product available.
Louise Hodges is the owner of Greenbug All Natural Pest Control Products which are safe and effective pest control solutions for People, Pets, Indoors, and Outdoors. Greenbug products use an active ingredient of cedar mixed with safe carriers. Think of cedar chests and closets where you never see a bug – that is because cedar is deadly to pests yet harmless to humans, animals and the environment. Greenbug products kill and repel all the pests you don’t want such as Mosquitoes, Fleas, Ticks, Fire Ants, Roaches, Stink Bugs, Silverfish, Dust Mites, White Fly, Sugar Ants, etc. but cause no harm whatsoever to beneficial creatures such as butterflies, lady bugs and honey bees. As a practicing Landscape Designer for more than 20 years, Louise is honored to have the opportunity to provide safe, worry-free pest control solutions that work!
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