- All Mosquitoes are not alike
- They carry many diseases
females thrive on blood
eat all sorts of things
have a poor eye-sight
live long enough to create misery
are not always their favorite target
can't wait to start bugging us
- They don't like to travel
- How do they find us?
- What's wrong with bug zappers?
- What's wrong with sprays and
about Citronella candles and smoking coils?
are the alternatives?
All Mosquitoes are not alike
Jurassic Park taught us that mosquitoes have
been around for 100 million years. In that time
they have diversified into 3,000 species that
are very different from one another. Instincts
pre-program their life's behavior, and these
programs are constantly refined by evolution.
They have successfully adapted to climates from
the arctic to the equator and developed means
of locating indigenous blood hosts in each locale:
some mosquitoes prefer frogs, others mammals,
still others birds. No product, including mosquito
traps, foggers, pesticides, Citronella candle,
smoking coils or DEET, works equally well on
every species of mosquito.
2) They carry many diseases
Worldwide, mosquito-borne diseases kill more
people than any other single factor. Mosquitoes
can be carriers of malaria, yellow fever, dengue
fever in humans. In the United States, mosquitoes
spread several types of encephalitis. They also
transmit heart worms to cats and dogs.
3) The females thrive on blood
Mosquitoes do not feed on blood. The female
mosquito requires a blood meal for development
of her eggs.
4) They eat all sorts of things
Mosquito adults feed on flower nectar, juices,
and decaying matter for flight energy. The larvae
are filter feeders of organic particulates.
The larval and pupal stages can be found in
a variety of aquatic habitats including: discarded
containers, tires, temporary woodland pools,
tree and crab holes, salt marshes, and irrigation
5) They have poor eye-sight
Mosquitoes don't see very well, but they zoom
in like a heat-seeking missile. In the spherical
arrangement of their compound eyes, blind spots
separate each eye from the next one. As a result,
they can't see you until they are 30 feet (10
meters) away. Even then, they have trouble distinguishing
you from any object of similar size and shape:
tree stump, 55-gallon drum, etc. When they are
10 feet (3 meters) away they use extremely sensitive
thermal receptors on the tip of their antennae
to locate blood near the surface of the skin.
The range of these receptors increases threefold
when the humidity is high. If you go into mosquito
habitat such as forests or wetlands where mosquitoes
can easily see you, protect yourself with a
repellent such as DEET.
6) They live long enough to create misery
The average life span of a female mosquito is
3 to 100 days. The male lives 10 to 20 days.
7) People are not always their favorite
People are not the primary blood hosts for mosquitoes,
especially in temperate climates. There are
few people near the Arctic Circle, for example,
but millions and millions of mosquitoes. The
major mosquito pests in the Southeast US seem
to prefer the host-odor of small herbivorous
(vegetarian) mammals, or birds. Mosquitoes that
carry encephalitis seem to prefer avian (bird)
blood hosts. These mosquitoes bite people when
they get the chance, but they are better at
tracking the scent of animals that are most
abundant in their habitat.
8) A prolific species
One female mosquito may lay 100 to 300 eggs
at a time and may average 1,000 to 3,000 offsprings
during her life span. Mosquitoes breed in standing
water, so eliminating standing water on your
property reduces your risk. Areas like rain
gutters, tree holes, old buckets or tires with
stagnant water are breeding sites. However,
although you may have taken steps to clear your
property, you are subject to the actions - or
inaction - of your neighbors, not to mention
wetland areas in your community.
9) They can't wait to start bugging
A mosquito develops from egg to adulthood in
4 to 7 days.
10) They don't like to travel
Most mosquitoes remain within a 1mile radius
of their breeding site.
11) How do they find us?
Mosquitoes locate blood hosts by scent, sight
and heat. From 100 feet away (30 meters) mosquitoes
can smell your scent, especially the carbon
dioxide (CO2) you exhale. Biting flies are even
better; they can smell their prey from 300 feet
(100 meters) away. Because CO2 is present in
the atmosphere (plants take in CO2 and give
off oxygen), mosquitoes respond to higher-than-normal
concentrations, especially when the CO2 is mixed
with host-odor. They follow your scent upwind,
and can see you at a distance of about 30 feet
12) What's wrong with bug zappers?
They kill beneficial insects, attract mosquitoes
but don't kill them, help mosquitoes find standing
water to lay their eggs, and spray insect fragments
into the air. The Ultra Violet (UV) light from
zappers attracts all night-flying insects. Each
night zappers kill about 3,000 beneficial insects
such as moths and butterflies, which pollinate
flowers, but only a handful of mosquitoes. A
Notre Dame University study in South Bend Indiana
showed that people with a zapper in their backyard
got bit 10% more than people without one because
zappers attracted mosquitoes but did not kill
them. UV light also helps mosquitoes find water
where they lay their eggs. When UV light is
reflected off the surface of water it is polarized.
Like polarized sunglasses that reduce glare
and help you see objects more clearly, the mosquitoes
follow the polarized light to the water to lay
their eggs. Because they attract large bugs,
they are purposefully designed to explode them
so they don't accumulate and become a fire hazard.
Exploding bug-fragments drift on the air. People
and food nearby may be contaminated by insect-fragments
from the zapper.
13) What's wrong with sprays and foggers?
Our research shows that 70% of Americans view
their backyard mosquito problem as moderate
to severe. The backyard mosquito control method
Americans use most is sprays and foggers - arguably
the most expensive, ineffective and environmentally
harmful thing to do! Sprays are expensive. They
are effective for only 2 to 4 hours, then the
mosquitoes are back. Sprays are indiscriminate.
They kill every insect: ladybug, butterfly,
praying mantis, earthworm - everything! Worst
of all, mosquitoes that survive come back stronger
than ever. In as little as 6 generations (two
months under ideal conditions) mosquitoes can
build up immunity to a pesticide. If you rely
on pesticide sprays and foggers, you will need
more and more of them to do the job, and you
will have to use them more and more often. The
best way to make pesticides effective is to
minimize their use. Make them your last choice,
not your first choice.
14) How about Citronella candles and
Citronella candles and smoking coils repel mosquitoes,
but you have to stay in the smoky plume to be
protected. Citronella is an essential oil of
citrus plants. The smoking coils contain pesticides.
Dr. Robert Novak of the University of Illinois
tested these products for ABC News. He reported
that when smoke from a coil covered a human
test subject's shin, the mosquitoes flew around
the subject's leg and bit them on the calf!
15) What are the alternatives?
You can spray. It will give you relief from
mosquitoes - for two hours. But it will kill
every butterfly, ladybug, preying mantis, and
There are zappers, and even zappers with octenol
lures. But without CO2 and a thermal lure, they
remain ineffective. Octenol is expensive, so
they use very little of it. Zappers kill 3,000
beneficial insects each night, but only a handful