Global warming are linked together through the activity of mosquitoes in winter. Mosquito control systems are generally not needed in late fall and winter. However, you cannot afford to relax your vigilance at any time, because mosquitoes do not all die in winter – they merely become inactive. It’s the same reason you don’t see many bears in winter – they are not dead, just hibernating. So what happens to mosquitoes in wintertime?
Mosquitoes are not aware of seasons as we are, but they do react to temperature. Once the ambient temperature reaches around 50F (10C) their systems begin to shut down and they become inactive. They will hide underneath the leaves of foliage, in and behind drainage downpipes, in cracks and crevices in walls and anywhere else they feel safe and hidden from predators and the worst of the weather.
In Atlanta this temperature is commonly reached in late fall/early winter. Come December it should be uncommon to see a mosquito flying around your yard. However, due to global warming and climate change, you may even now be experiencing regular winter temperatures of above 50. You may therefore see mosquitoes flying until later in the month than normal.
How Mosquitoes Survive Winter
As previously stated, mosquitoes do not necessarily die in winter. Some species do, but others simply become inactive, waiting for better weather. They can then become active in spring, seeking blood protein for their eggs. Some lay eggs which can last throughout the winter, ready to hatch in spring. Some larvae can lie dormant until spring comes when they mature into adults.
If winter weather fluctuates between cold and warm, then it is possible for you to come across the odd insect that appreciates the rise in temperature. It makes sense, then, that if the ambient winter temperature tends to rise, then mosquito populations will rise with it. Several studies have been carried out on the relationship between winter temperature fluctuations and mosquito populations.
Global Warming and Climate Change
A study carried out on this by Cory W. Morin and Andrew C. Comrie was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)*. The results of this study showed that as global warming and climate change proceed, there will be an increase in the risk of West Nile Virus to humans. This will be due to an extension of the active season for the mosquito types that transmit this virus in the Southern states of the USA.
This extension will not take place at the same rate across all the southern states, and much will depend upon local climate and ambient temperatures. However, it is believed that as global temperatures increase, even if just by one degree, the activity of mosquitoes will change and may push the ‘safe’ farther back into the winter months.
Average Temperatures in Atlanta
As daytime temperatures increase, it is possible that some species of mosquito may become active during the warmer days and rest in the colder nights. Records show that that the average temperature in Atlanta has tended to increase over the past 35 years. Whether or not this extends into an increase in mosquito activity is another question, yet to be answered.
Over the past 35 years, the warmest minimum and coldest maximum temperatures have been (to nearest degree F):
Statistics can be manipulated of course, but there does appear to be a gradual increase in minimum temperatures. This could conceivable have an impact on the activity of mosquitoes. It just takes the coldest minimum to start going over 50 for there to be a potential problem.
The conclusion for all this is that it makes sense to prepare for the mosquito season early this year. It might never happen, but if you are caught on the hop then it is possible for mosquitoes to start breeding earlier than you might think. Their bites indicate that the females are creating eggs and that the laying season will not be far behind. If you take action too late, then you will be fighting a war against increasing numbers of these insects rather than preventing their creation when it was still possible to do so.
Whether you agree with the theories or not, mosquitoes will react to increasing ambient temperatures by becoming active, breeding and then using your blood to provide the protein they need to create eggs. Take action early by clearing out any potential containers for standing water and setting up a barrier to stop them rampaging around your yard and your home.
It is best to be proactive with mosquitoes, and prevent them from accessing your yard in any season. A mosquito misting barrier is the ideal solution. It can be preset to create an insecticide mist while mosquitoes are active, but also to be manually activated early and late winter so you are protected even if winter temperatures rise above 50 degrees. You can get more information from Mr. Mister on (404) 941-0720
* PNAS Vol. 110 no. 39 – Cory W. Morin, 15620–15625, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1307135110