It’s time to learn about one of our least favorite Louisiana residents – mosquitoes!
Although we look at these pests as nuisances, they are actually quite fascinating and a natural part of our ecosystem. There are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes, and only a couple hundred bite or bother humans. They’ve been on Earth for over 100 million years, and they live just about everywhere. But, as much as mosquitoes do play a role in ecology, we could fare just fine without them.
General Mosquito Questions
Q: How fast can mosquitoes fly?
A: Mosquitoes can fly about 1 to 1.5 miles an hour.
Q: How far do mosquitoes fly?
A: Mosquitoes prefer breeding around the home, and many have limited ranges of 300 feet. Some species travel further, up to 7 miles from their breeding spots. The farthest we’ve seen mosquitoes travel is 100 miles, but this is rare.
Q: How big are mosquitoes?
A: Mosquitoes are small, weighing 2.5 milligrams on average. The largest mosquito species weighs 10 milligrams.
Q: How much blood does a mosquito suck from a human?
A: A mosquito feeds for repletion, generally taking in .001 to .01 millimeters.
Q: Why do mosquitoes feed on blood?
A: Female mosquitoes are the ones that feast on blood because they need it to mature their eggs. The blood itself serves no nourishment or function. Males do not feed on blood.
Q: How long do mosquitoes live?
A: Most adult female mosquitoes live for 2-3 weeks. There are some species that can live up to 6 months, but these ones overwinter in garages and attics.
Mosquitoes’ Role in Our Environment
Q: Do we really need mosquitoes in our ecosystem?
A: Mosquitoes are sources of food, and they pollinate plants. But, if mosquitoes eradicated, chances are high that other species would fill their niche rather well. That said, don’t expect mosquitoes to be going anywhere soon. They have been here since the Cretaceous Period and acclimate well to all temperatures and environments.
Q: Which states have the most mosquitoes?
A: Texas has the most species of mosquitoes while Virginia has the least.
Q: Can mosquitoes survive in cold climates?
A: Yes! When they do survive cold winters, they are hibernating and overwintering eggs. Mosquitoes are found in just about all parts of the world, including cold places like Alaska.
Mosquitoes in Our Homes
Q: How do mosquitoes get into my house?
A: Mosquitoes can get in through any portal, such as a hole in a screen or a gap in the attic. Garages are some of the most popular spots.
Q: How can I avoid getting mosquito bites?
A: Avoid going out during dusk and dawn, wear insect repellent when outdoors and remove standing water from around the home. Since mosquitoes are weak fliers, you can place a fan outside, as well as candles that blow smoke to keep some pests away. Yellow lights are better than incandescent light bulbs as well.
Q: Should I consider a backyard misting system?
A: Misting systems can be highly beneficial at targeting specific places, such as your patio or around the pool, targeting mosquitoes and other small pests. Still, it’s important to take good care of your yard to prevent mosquitoes from breeding; we can’t leave everything up to misting systems.
Q: What types of preventative tools are available?
A: In addition to mosquito misting systems, there are also mosquito traps, ultrasonic devices and bug zappers.
Q: Why does my friend get bit more than I do?
A: There are several theories about why some people get bit more than others. They have to do with the human blood type and odors of the human. It’s believed that mosquitoes are attracted to the type of carbon dioxide that we exhale. When we breathe out, the mosquitoes zoom in and decide if they want to make a meal out of us.
Q: Do mosquitoes transmit AIDS?
Q: How should I treat a mosquito bite?
A: Your best bet is to leave the bite alone. You don’t want to keep itching it, otherwise it could lead to infection. There are some effective ways to ease the itch and pain, such as by placing a cold pack on the bite, adding a drop of honey or tea tree oil or applying basil, peppermint or witch hazel.