Carbon dioxide is the most universally acknowledged attractant and can draw mosquitoes from up to 35 meters. A female mosquito, being the only sex to bite, senses carbon dioxide to be drawn into the target. Once in the general vicinity of her potential host, other signs take over, such as body odor (sweat, lactic acid) and heat. Movement is also a factor in locating the host. Ingestion of garlic and vitamin B12 are rumored to be attractants, but are not. However, people wearing perfume and people drinking beer are found to be a draw to the female mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals in the world. More deaths are caused by mosquitoes than any other animal, thanks to their aid in spreading West Nile Virus, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, encephalitis and Chikungunya. Mosquitoes also carry heart worm which can be deadly to your dog.
Lifespans vary by species, but most adult females live 2-3 weeks. There are certain species that will over-winter in garages, culverts and basements and can live as long as 6 months.
It is important to remember that mosquitoes are not the only small flying insect that bite! Other small and biting bugs that are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes include midges, no-see-ums, and black flies.
When possible, schedule activities to avoid the hours between dusk and dawn, which mosquitoes are most active. Dress in light colored, loose fitting clothing. Since mosquitoes are weak fliers the most effective means of keeping mosquitoes at bay is to use a large fan in the area you are inhabiting for a low-tech, environment-friendly solution. Use General Electric yellow “bug lights” bulbs, which are not a repellent, but do not attract mosquitoes like other incandescent lights. Citronella candles have a mild repellent effect, but do not offer significantly more protection than regular candles producing smoke.
At least 10 studies in the last 15 years have unanimously denounced ultrasonic devices as having no repellency whatsoever. The clever high-tech, and imperceptible (by humans) use of ultrasound proved to be an exceedingly effective marketing tool for the manufacturers. They were promoted as a non-chemical means of control for mosquitoes. Additionally, sound generators capable of a wide range of frequencies were also ineffective in repelling mosquitoes.
Not all mosquitoes bite. Only adult female mosquitoes bite. Female mosquitoes need protein from the blood they ingest to produce eggs they lay on or near water. Not all species of mosquitoes bite humans – some prefer birds, large mammals or even snakes. During aquatic stages of the mosquito life they feed on algae and other small organic matter.
Mosquito saliva is itchy. We have a natural immune response to the anticoagulant in their saliva to draw blood more quickly. Our body produces a usually mild reaction from the bite due to the histamine response, so the skin around the bite gets itchy.
All mosquitoes require water to breed. Just a few inches of water are all that is required for a female to deposit her eggs after her blood meal. Tiny mosquito larvae develop rapidly in bird baths, roof gutters, and old tires in the smallest amount of water. With that in mind, imagine how many mosquitoes can develop in an ornamental pond that lays dormant for years after it has fallen into disrepair. Kiddie pools left with a few inches of water after the fun of summer wanes produces thousands of adult mosquitoes each week with the potential to carry disease.
Insect electrocution devices are sold in huge quantities for use to attract and kill thousands of insects over a 24 hour period. Two controlled studies conducted showed that mosquitoes comprised on 4.1% and 6.4% of the daily catch over an entire mosquito season. More importantly is that there was no significant difference in the number of mosquitoes found in yards with or without these devices. Many of the other insects killed in the trap were beneficial predators that feed on other insects. What is most disturbing is the number of non-pest insects that were killed which constitute a majority of the songbird’s diet. There is strong evidence that mosquitoes continue to be more attracted to humans than these electronic devices.
Most mosquitoes are poor fliers. If mosquitoes are biting you at home, they are probably breeding around your yard. Container breeding mosquitoes like Asian Tiger mosquito fly only 300 feet. Most species fly about 1-3 miles. Some flood water type species in the Midwest will fly up to 7 miles from known breeding spots.
Your risk level for West Nile Virus is directly tied to your level of personal protection.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, between dusk and dawn.
- Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property (examples on website) or report sources of standing water you cannot empty.
- Make sure all window and door screens are well maintained.
Most species of mosquitoes rest during the daytime in shady, cooler, humid areas. Mosquitoes try to escape hot, dry air that will kill them by hiding in shrubs, tall grass and weeds. Reduce harborage areas around your residence to thin the number of mosquitoes residing there.