Mosquito Facts and Myths
By Ed Harne, Taxonomist, Charleston County Mosquito Control
The mosquito is a known nuisance. Not only does it bite, but some species can transmit diseases to humans and animals. A mosquito’s life revolves around water. The female mosquito lays her eggs in the water or in areas that are expected to flood. Once the eggs hatch, the aquatic mosquito larvae stay in the water through the pupae stage. These aquatic stages last approximately 1 to 2 weeks before an adult mosquito emerges. The female mosquito must have a blood meal before laying her eggs. After laying her eggs, she will again search for blood, thus continuing the cycle.
In addition to natural sites, mosquitoes can be found breeding in many common household containers and standing water situations:
-Birdbaths-rinse and refill weekly
-Rain gutters-clean out leaf debris and unclog
-Children’s toys-keep these dry
-Boats-(even with covers on) can easily accumulate enough water and debris over a couple of month’s time to create a mosquito farm
-Ornamental ponds/pools-stocking with a few fish, even small goldfish, will take care of mosquitoes
-Plant and flower pots-the “dish” under the pot that catches water is an excellent place for baby mosquitoes. Dump these weekly, drill holes in them, or use a product like “Pre-Strike” (available in home and garden stores) in them.
-Rain catch barrels/containers-simply screen the tops or use “Pre-Strike”. Screening keeps out female mosquitoes (use regular window screen material).
Mosquitoes will not be found breeding in several scenarios where standing water is present:
-Where there are mosquito predators existing in a body of water that is permanent or semi-permanent – for example, retention ponds, some woodland ponds and swamps, and some (but not all) large, deep drainage ditches. Most of these contain fish like Gambusia affinis (mosquito fish), and/or other fish and predators like dragonfly larvae. Aerating fountains are not a factor in eliminating mosquitoes in retention ponds in most cases the natural eco system controls and eliminates mosquito breeding in retention ponds.
-Moving water such as rivers, creeks, streams, flowing ornamental fountains and waterfalls.
-Salt water marshes subject to the 6-hour daily tide cycle
If you have further questions about mosquito breeding or other concerns such as getting your area sprayed, please call:
Charleston County Mosquito Control 843-202-7880.
Berkeley County Mosquito Control 723-3800 or 719-4646
Dorchester County Mosquito Control 832-0070
MOSQUITO LIFE CYCLE
EGG: In some species of mosquitoes, the female either lays individual eggs or attaches eggs together to form “rafts” which float on the surface of the water. In other species, the female lays eggs on soil that will later be flooded by water. Most eggs hatch within 48 hours; others might withstand subzero-temperature winters before hatching. The larvae must have water to hatch and develop.
LARVAE: The larvae live in water and come to the surface to breathe. The larvae feed on microorganisms and organic matter in the water. They go through four larval growth stages.
PUPAE: After the fourth larval growth stage, the larva changes into a pupa. This stage is a resting, air-breathing, non-feeding stage; however, the pupa is mobile and will move in a tumbling motion away from the surface by flipping its tail. This stage is comparable to the cocoon or chrysalis stage of butterflies or moths. When the pupa’s development is complete, its skin splits, and the adult emerges onto the water’s surface.
ADULT: The newly-emerged adult rests on the water’s surface for a short period of time allowing its body to dry and harden. Males feed on the nectar of flowers or other sugar sources. To stimulate egg production, the female mosquito feeds on the blood of humans, animals, and birds.