Mosquito season is in full swing this time of year. The most puzzling questions folks have for experts are: “Where on my property are mosquitoes likely to breed?” As well as: “What can I do to reduce the amount of mosquitoes?”
Inspecting Your Property
The inspection is focused on two things; (1) accurate identification of the mosquitoes and (2) identifying resources or how the environment is contributing to the mosquitoes’ survival?
With the accurate identification of the mosquitoes, the behavior and biology of these pests should be apparent. For instance; what is the pests’ preferred food source?
Where does the mosquito typically deposit eggs? What is the life cycle of the mosquito? Armed with this knowledge, the professional begins to strategize a management protocol.
What Mosquitoes Eat & How They Breed
In terms of mosquitoes, the female typically needs a blood meal to produce viable eggs. The female mosquito deposits eggs in, on or near water. Part of the mosquitoes’ early life stages requires an aquatic component.
There are more than 2,500 different species of mosquitoes in the world, 150 of which occur in the U.S. and only a small fraction of which actually transmit disease. Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycle – egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Eggs can be laid either one at a time or in rafts and float on the surface of the water.
Culex and Culiseta species stick their eggs together in rafts of 200 or more, which looks like a speck of soot floating on the water, about 1/4-inch long and 1/8-inch wide. Anopheles and Aedes species do not make rafts but lay their eggs separately. Aedes lay their eggs on damp soil that will be flooded by water. Most eggs hatch into larvae within 48 hours.
Larvae live in the water and come to the surface to breathe. They feed on microorganisms and organic matter in the water. They molt four times, growing larger after each molting, and changing into pupae after the fourth molt when they are about 1/2-inch long.
The pupal stage is a resting, non-feeding stage. This is when the mosquito turns into an adult. It takes about two days for the adult to fully develop, split the pupal skin and emerge. Adults rest on the surface of the water to allow their body parts to harden and wings to dry.
The Ending Of The Mosquito Life Cycle
The complete life cycle can take as little as four days or as long as one month, depending on the temperature. Only adult female mosquitoes bite animals and require blood meals; males feed on the nectar of flowers.
So what then do mosquitoes need? Why are they finding your backyard so darn attractive? They need suitable aquatic breeding habitats in order to complete their life cycle i.e.; they need water.
Your first step in managing mosquitoes should be to remove any and all potential breeding areas – any place that water collects – from your yard, including your gutters.
This will provide long-term control over mosquito populations and also controls populations before they mature and have a chance to reproduce, transfer disease, and annoy you.