A mosquito is a tiny flying insect known for their diet of blood and the fact that they leave itchy little bumps on the people they bite. What people might not know is that mosquitoes are considered one of the deadliest creatures on the planet thanks to their notorious habit of carrying and transmitting disease.
Mosquitoes are all over the world and there are approximately 3,000 known species. They first start to emerge during the spring months when things start to warm up and continues through to the fall. However, in some areas where it remains warm year-round there can be mosquitoes all the time. Their favorite time to dine is during dawn and dusk hours, when mosquito control can be prove most effective.
Basic mosquito information
There is some basic information about mosquitoes that you should probably know. This includes:
- Mosquitoes have a couple of sets of wings – one for flying and another set known as halteres that help them control themselves while flying.
- Mosquitoes are actually part of the same family as flies – They are part of the same scientific order as the common house fly known as Diptera.
- Mosquitoes are very weak flyers – This is why if you sit on your front porch and want to avoid mosquito bites you can have a simple fan going. The wind from a fan is enough to prevent mosquitoes from approaching.
- Only the female mosquito bites people – Males do not have the necessary mouthparts to pierce skin and feed. Female mosquitoes feed on blood to get protein to lay eggs.
- A female mosquito can lay eggs in as little as one cup full of water – Some mosquitoes even lay and hatch eggs in puddles left behind by storms. Mosquitoes will not lay their eggs in moving water however, so adding a fountain or something that moves the water to backyard ponds can prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs there.
- Mosquitoes are attracted to some people more than others – Mosquitoes find people using their sense of smell and through heat detection. They detect the carbon dioxide we exhale, as well as sweat. Some people have a more attractive smell to them, which is why you could be sitting somewhere getting bite-after-bite and your friend will have no bites.
- Although a nuisance, mosquitoes are a vital part of the ecosystem – Bats, spiders and other creatures feed on the adult insects. Certain species of fish rely on feeding on mosquito larvae in the water. Mosquitoes are not as proficient at it as bees, but since they do feed on plant nectar they even help some with pollination.
Mosquito borne diseases
Mosquitoes require blood to live, but only the females bite because they require the blood to lay eggs. Since they are small, they do not require a lot of blood from their hosts, but mosquito saliva is what causes the itchiness. It’s also this pest saliva that can transmit a number of potentially dangerous diseases.
In fact, mosquitoes are known to carry and transmit viruses and diseases for both animals and humans. Some of them are specific to certain species of mosquitoes, but across the board mosquitoes can be dangerous to mammals.
Some of the diseases attributed to mosquitoes include:
- Zika Virus– the virus has been positively linked to mosquitoes, in particular the A. aegypti and A. albopictus species. The virus tends to cause only very mild symptoms to the person who is first infected such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, a rash and a few other symptoms that disappear quickly. However, once inside a person, it can cause serious problems down the road and has been linked to birth defects such as microcephaly or to illnesses such as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
- West Nile Virus (WNV) – first found in the U.S. in 1999, West Nile is an aborovirus linked to mosquitoes and it can be deadly to humans. The virus affects people in different ways, but can lead to encephalitis and meningitis.
- Canine Heartworm – pets are not immune to the problems that come from mosquitoes. Heartworm is a serious illness that can be deadly to dogs and some cats by leading to congestive heart failure.
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) – although this illness is best known for being serious for horses, it can also be found in other mammals and even be transmitted to human beings.
- Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) – although this illness is best known for being serious for horses, it can also be found in other mammals and even be transmitted to human beings.
- La Crosse Virus (LAC) – this virus is another form of encephalitis and when it first appears brings about symptoms such as vomiting, fever, headaches, and nausea. However, it can quickly get much worse and lead to seizers, paralysis, brain damage, comas and even death.
- St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) – in 1933 the first appearance of SLE appeared in the city that bears its name. These days around 128 people throughout the United States get this illnesses every year. Like other encephalitis illnesses it presents as a cold at first, but becomes worse fast.
- Malaria – these days malaria is not much of a concern here in the U.S. However, in other parts of the world, this is still a very serious problem and if someone travels from the U.S. to other parts of the world, it is possible they could get bitten and bring malaria back with them. Malaria is a parasite that first presents like a bout of the flu, but then quickly becomes very serious. The Anopheles mosquito is known to carry malaria.
- Dengue Fever – also not very common in the United States, but Dengue Fever is very nasty because it is a hemorrhagic, which means it causes lots of bleeding. Outbreaks do happen from time to time as people travel. This disease has been linked to the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito.
Before October 2015, when people talked about mosquitoes and diseases malaria, dengue and yellow fever were on the hotlist. But a recent outbreak has lead to Zika being one of the most talked about mosquito-borne diseases.
The Zika virus is spread mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquito. Patients who have accumulated the Zika virus usually don’t get sick enough to warrant hospital visits, with many cases going unnoticed.
One of the major concerns for people and mosquitoes is that they have now been proven to transmit the Zika virus to humans. The Zika virus, when a person is first infected, often causes mild cold or flu-like symptoms that most people get over quickly. The problem is that the virus can cause serious problems down the road, particularly when it comes to birth defects.
- Red eyes
- Joint pain
The treatment is generally rest, drinking plenty of fluids and visiting your health care provider.
The Zika virus has been linked to:
- Birth defects such as microcephaly in infants
- Guillain-Barre syndrome
The best way to avoid this is by using mosquito nets, covering yourself during peak mosquito times and using mosquito deterrent methods.
Effective mosquito control for your home
The best way to control mosquitoes is to prevent or minimize mosquito breeding sites. There are a number of things you can do around your home to help get rid of mosquitoes, but an expert is your best bet. Your dedicated Lady Killers Pest Control technician can inspect areas in your yard where mosquitoes could be breeding and provide tips on preventing future problems.
Lady Killers Pest Control technicians have the latest methods to find where mosquitoes like to rest and treat those areas to kill off the adult mosquitoes from around your home. The treatments can last for weeks and we can find places that might have eggs or larvae and eliminate them, too.