Mosquito Control

Mosquito FAQ

Question 

Why do mosquitoes bite?
Mosquitoes belong to a group of insects that requires blood to develop fertile eggs. Males do not lay eggs, thus, male mosquitoes do not bite. The females are the egg producers and "host-seek" for a blood meal. Female mosquitoes lay multiple batches of eggs and require a blood meal for every batch they lay. Few people realize that mosquitoes rely on sugar as their main source of energy. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, fruit juices, and liquids that ooze from plants. The sugar is burned as fuel for flight and is replenished on a daily basis. Blood is reserved for egg production and is imbibed less frequently.

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Question How many kinds of mosquitoes are there?

About 3,000 species of mosquitoes have been described on a world-wide basis. Approximately 150 are known to occur in North America. Scientists group species by genus on the basis of the physical characteristics they share. The 3,000 mosquito species found in the world are divided among 28 different genera. The genus Aedes contains some of the worst pests. Many members of the genus Anopheles have the ability to transmit human malaria.

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Question Why do mosquito bites leave welts?

When a female mosquito pierces the skin with her mouthparts, she injects a small amount of saliva into the wound before drawing blood. The saliva makes penetration easier and prevents the blood from clotting in the narrow channel of her food canal. The welt that appears after the mosquito leaves is not a reaction to the wound, but an allergic reaction to the saliva injected to prevent clotting. In most cases, the itching sensation and swellings subside within several hours. Some people are highly sensitive, and symptoms persist for several days. Scratching the bites can result in infection if bacteria from the fingernails are introduced to the wounds.

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Question Why does the female mosquito go to the trap?

The female mosquito is attracted to a host by scent (including CO2), moisture, temperature, color, movement, and for some species, sound. There are an estimated 400 chemicals emitted from human skin and about 100 volatile compounds in each human breath that mosquitoes can detect. The combination and amount of chemicals given off is believed to be why some people are more readily bitten than other people. Female mosquitoes can detect a host to feed on at a distance of up to 40 yards, dependant on species and weather conditions. The SkeeterVac uses propane from a standard grill cylinder to convert into carbon dioxide and water vapor in a catalytic engine system. The carbon dioxide and water vapor are then combined with a chemical attractant called octenol and expelled from the SkeeterVac in a plume. This plume is attractive to female msoquitoes because it mimics a human's breathing. These female mosquitoes, who are seeking a blood meal to nourish their eggs, approach SkeeterVac believing it is a human. Once close by they are vacuumed into the trap where they quickly dehydrate and die.

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Question When is the best time to catch mosquitos?

Mosquitoes start to come out when the outside temperature is consistently above about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This is when you should begin control by running your unit. When the temperature falls consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the mosquitoes will be gone and you can put your unit away for the season.

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Question Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes than others?

Scientists are still investigating the complexities involved with mosquito host acceptance and rejection. Some people are highly attractive to mosquitoes and others are rarely bothered. Mosquitoes have specific requirements to satisfy, and process many different factors before they feed. Many of the mosquito?s physiological demands are poorly understood and many of the processes they use to evaluate potential blood meal hosts remain a mystery. Female mosquitoes use the CO2 we exhale as their primary cue to our location. A hostseeking mosquito is guided to our skin by following the slip stream of CO2 that exudes from our breath. Once they have landed, they rely on a number of short-range attractants to determine if we are an acceptable blood meal host. Folic acid is one chemical that appears to be particularly important. Fragrances from hair sprays, perfumes, deodorants, and soap can cover these chemical cues. They can also function to either enhance or repel the hostseeking drive. Dark colors capture heat and make most people more attractive to mosquitoes. Light colors refract heat and are generally less attractive. Detergents, fabric softeners, perfumes, and body odor can counteract the effects of color. In most cases, only the mosquito knows why one person is more attractive than another.

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Question How long do mosquitoes live?

Mosquitoes are relatively fragile insects with an adult life span that lasts about two weeks. The vast majority meet a violent end by serving as food for birds, dragonflies, and spiders; or are killed by the effects of wind, rain, or drought. The mosquito species that only have a single generation each year are longer lived and may persist in small numbers for as long as 2-3 months if environmental conditions are favorable. Mosquitoes that hibernate in the adult stage live for 6-8 months but spend most of that time in a state of torpor. Some of the mosquito species found in arctic regions enter hibernation twice and take more than a year to complete their life cycle.

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Question Where do mosquitoes go in the winter?

Mosquitoes, like all insects, are cold-blooded creatures. As a result, they are incapable of regulating body heat, and their temperature is essentially the same as their surroundings. Mosquitoes function best at 80o F, become lethargic at 60o F, and cannot function below 50o F. In tropical areas, mosquitoes are active year round. In temperate climates, mosquitoes become inactive with the onset of cool weather and enter hibernation to live through the winter. Some kinds of mosquitoes have winter-hardy eggs, and hibernate as embryos in eggs laid by the last generation of females in late summer. The eggs are usually submerged under ice and hatch in spring when water temperatures rise. Other kinds of mosquitoes overwinter as adult females that mate in the fall; enter hibernation in animal burrows, hollow logs, or basements; and pass the winter in a state of torpor. In spring, the females emerge from hibernation, blood feed, and lay the eggs that produce the next generation of adults. A limited number of mosquitoes overwinter in the larval stage, often buried in the mud of freshwater swamps. When temperatures rise in spring, these mosquitoes begin feeding, complete their immature growth, and eventually emerge as adults to continue their kind.

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Question Can mosquitoes carry diseases?

Any insect that feeds on blood has the potential of transmitting disease organisms from human to human. Mosquitoes are highly developed blood-sucking insects and are the most formidable transmitters of disease in the animal kingdom. Mosquito-borne diseases are caused by human parasites that have a stage in their life cycle that enters the blood stream. The female mosquito picks up the blood stage of the parasite when she imbibes blood to develop her eggs. The parasites generally use the mosquito to complete a portion of their own life cycle and either multiply, change in form inside the mosquito, or do both. After the mosquito lays her eggs, she seeks a second blood meal and transmits the fully developed parasites to the next unwitting host. Malaria is a parasitic protozoan that infects the blood cells of humans and is transmitted from human to human by Anopheles mosquitoes. Encephalitis is a virus of the central nervous system that is passed from infected birds to humans by mosquitoes that feed on birds as well as people. Yellow fever is a virus infection of monkeys that can either be transmitted from monkey to human or from human to human. Dengue is a sub-tropical virus that is passed directly from one human to the next. Dog heartworm is a large filarial worm that lives in the heart of dogs but produces a blood stage small enough to develop in a mosquito. The dog heartworm parasite does not develop properly in humans and is not regarded as a human health problem. In some tropical areas of the world, a closely related parasite produces human elephantiasis?a debilitating mosquito-borne affliction that results in grossly swollen arms, legs, and genitals.

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Question Can mosquitoes transmit AIDS?

The HIV virus that produces AIDS in humans does not develop in mosquitoes. If HIV-infected blood is taken up by a mosquito, the virus is treated like food and digested along with the blood meal. If the mosquito takes a partial blood meal from an HIV-positive person and resumes feeding on a non-infected individual, insufficient particles are transferred to initiate a new infection. If a fully engorged mosquito with HIV-positive blood is squashed on the skin, there is still insufficient transfer to produce infection. The virus diseases that use insects as agents of transfer produce tremendously high levels of parasites in the blood. The levels of HIV that circulate in human blood are so low that, in most cases, HIV antibody must be used as the indicator to diagnosis infection.

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