Whether you are outside camping, enjoying your backyard or walking down the road, if the weather is warm then there is one uninvited visitor you can count on: mosquitoes. They prey on thousands of people per day and are one of the most annoying summer pests. Even if you don’t live near a common breeding ground, you are still affected by them. So how far do mosquitoes travel in order to find food?
While common myths lead you to believe that they are only prevalent in swampy or wet areas, this is not true. Mosquitoes can show up just about anywhere. There are currently more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes around the world and approximately one hundred and seventy-five are located in the United States.
In order to be aware of your surrounding and be prepared to fight them off this summer, let’s take a deeper look into where they migrate to and how you can stay out of the mosquito range.
The average mosquito flies at about 1.5 miles per hour, and will not go far away from the area that they were hatched. Most will only fly about one to three miles in search of food. But this is really dependent on the species of mosquito. In the midwest, certain species will fly up to seven miles away searching.
The furthest flying breed belongs to the salt-marshes. This species has been recorded flying to up to 100 miles away. However, it’s normal range is twenty to forty miles.
Mosquitoes tend to stay below twenty five feet when searching for food. When they reach higher altitudes, it is easier for the wind to pick them up and sweep them away from their home location.
Mosquitoes feed both during the day and at night. It will vary between different species, but the most actives times are in the morning as the sun is rising and during the evening when it sets. After dark, mosquitoes remain very active and continue to bite.
What Attracts Mosquitoes?
What factors make someone more of a target for bites versus other individuals who seem to not be as affected?Mosquitoes have receptors in their antennae that detects the carbon dioxide that we release when we breathe. The carbon dioxide rises into the air and becomes a trail for the mosquitoes to follow to find the source.
Once a mosquito has located a food source, they follow it until they are close enough to find a better range of smells and odors that attract them. Some of the most common attractive smells to mosquitoes are Type O blood, pregnant women and individuals drinking beer.
There are also 400 additional chemical compounds that pour out of the human skin that can affect mosquitoes by either attraction or repulsion. This chemical mix is created by the bacteria that lives on our skin and is made potent by our sweat. Each person has a different bacteria compound so we all smell different to mosquitoes.
Darker clothes tend to attract mosquitoes, since they are drawn in by the smell of our sweat. In the summer, individuals that are wearing dark clothes retain their heat more which ends up making them sweat more than a person wearing lighter colors.
The Life of a Mosquito
Male mosquitoes are able to locate females by the sound of their wings. The average female mosquito beats her wings up to five hundred times per second. The males are able to hear and pick out the higher flapping frequencies when they chose a mate.
A male mosquito can mate in flight and the entire process takes about fifteen seconds. Male mosquitoes do not bite humans or other animals. They live mainly off of fruit and plant nectar.
Female mosquitoes, once they are carrying eggs, will seek out protein, which is found in human and animal blood. She needs the protein to develop the eggs in her sack so that she can lay them.
Mosquitoes do not have teeth, the female uses her long, pointed mouthpart, called a proboscis, which is used to pierce the skin and locate a capillary to draw blood from. While a mosquito can drink up to three times it’s body weight, it would take over a million bites for your body to be drained.
Generally it takes 3-4 days of feeding before the female mosquito can retire to her decided place for laying the eggs. A female mosquito can lay up to 300 eggs at a time and in as little as inch of standing/stagnant water.
|Eggs||Two – Three|
|Larva||Eight – Ten|
|Pupa||One – Two|
|Adult||Male (10) – Female (40-60)|
Once laid on the water, the eggs will hatch in two to three days time. The eggs must stay in the water in order to hatch. If the water is drained then they will not finish and have a high chance of dying.
Once hatched, they come out as small wormlike creatures that swim through the water. The larva feed on organic matter that lives in the stagnant water. They also breath the oxygen at the surface of the water. They will continue to grow at this stage for eight to ten days.
Similar to butterflies, the pupa makes a cocoon and is partially enclosed inside. While it morphs, it does not eat anything. In one to two days it emerges a an adult mosquito with wings.
Male mosquitoes usually live about ten days. In the right environment, a female mosquito can survive for six to eight weeks. Also in a females lifetime, she can lay eggs up to three different times.
The body of an adult mosquito is made up of six legs, a head, thorax and abdomen. On it’s head sit two compound eyes, two simple eyes, two antennae and a proboscis.
Where do Mosquitoes Call Home?
Mosquitoes live and breed in still water, so they tend to migrate and thrive in areas that keep standing water. It is common knowledge that they swarm in swamps, but where else are they prevalent?
Mosquitoes can make a home and breed almost anywhere in the world. While standing water is necessary for the eggs to grow, mosquitoes will also need a large population to fee off of. Whether it is people or livestock, the eggs will not grow if the female does not acquire enough protein.
Some of the most populated by mosquito areas are also high traffic areas for people. You will see more mosquitoes on a vacation to the beach because it is the perfect breeding ground for them. Ample amounts of standing water and an overturning, always busy tourist population to feed off of.
Another hotspot for mosquitoes are farms and livestock areas. These places usually have a good amount of standing water from the animals tracking thorough and making imprints in the ground. When it rains, these imprints fill up and make a great spot for laying eggs.
While there are states that are more susceptible to swarms of mosquitoes, chances are you will see them frequent your own backyard if the conditions are just right.
How to Fend Off Unwelcome Attacks
It is important to use a type of repellant towards mosquitoes, to fend of the unwelcome itchy bites, but mainly to keep yourself healthy and not exposed to the diseases they carry.
The most well known disease is the West Nile Virus. It came to the U.S. in 1999 from a woman who traveled from the West Nile district in Uganda. Secondly, mosquitoes create and carry Malaria. This disease is created by a parasite that lives inside of mosquitoes. The parasite travels through the mosquitoes saliva.
When it comes to using repellents there are so many to chose from on the market. With mosquitoes being a constant summer problem, it seems like so many are flocking to make stronger or more natural repellants. Let’s take a look at both the natural repellants and DEET.
If you are into doing things the more natural way then there are a few suggestions below. Not all of them are a quick fix, but with time and effort you can hope to manage a low mosquito populated area.
As simple as growing them in your garden or putting a few potted plans on your porch, these herbs when activated by touch or crushing them are an excellent repellant for mosquitoes. (Lemon Grass, Geranium, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Anise, Mint, Marigolds, Catnip, Wormwood, Lavender, Cedar, Tansy and Cloves.)
Use a Fan
If you use a medium sized plug in fan in the area you are in outdoors, then this creates a small windstorm that makes it difficult for mosquitoes to migrate through. Also it cools your body temperature, slowing sweat and making you less fragrant to hungry mosquitoes.
Bounce dryer sheets are known to be a repellent to mosquitoes, and are easy to grab and stick in your pocket for a small radius of protection.
Treat Standing Water Areas
Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (BTI) is sold in stores and is a treatment for stagnant or standing water areas. It releases proteins that turn into toxins after the mosquito larva digest it.
Make a home for mosquito eating animals
While this takes a little work, and may not be an option for individuals in the city areas, you can lower the swarm of mosquitoes in your area by learning about animals that eat mosquitoes and how to attract them.
How to Attract
|Bats||Build a bat house, also attracted to fruit trees.|
|Birds||Place bird feeders and suet feeders.|
|Fish||An outdoor pond. Goldfish, Guppies, Gambusia affinis.|
|Dragonflies||Attracted to fish ponds.|
While home remedies have their rustic charm and are enticing to people who are against using pesticides, they have not been proven to protect individuals from the West Nile Virus.
This product was created by the U.S. Army in 1946 and was sold to the public in 1957. There are similar products available, but none carry a high protection like this. Tested by the CDC, the tow main ingredients in the DEET spray hold a powerful combination at repelling the insects and lowing the risk of serious illnesses such as Went Nile and Malaria.
While this product is still shunned in more eco friendly homes, in 1998 the agency re-evaluated DEET and discovered that it is not harmful when used according to the instructions and it is not classified as a cancer- causing agent.
DEET does not mask any smells, instead it is a product that gives off an odor that is very repulsive to mosquitoes. It has been proven that a product containing ten percent DEET can provide protection for up to 90 minutes.
How to Stay Clear of Mosquitoes This Summer?
By learning more information about mosquitoes, you can be more aware of your surroundings while we are outside either for leisure or vacation. If you take steps and precautions like wearing repellants or keeping your arms and legs covered, then you will be able to enjoy a bit free summer.
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