There are a host of pests that will try to ruin your enjoyment of your house and yard, from termites and ticks to mosquitoes, and each require a different type of pest controls – but mosquitoes seem to delight in your discomfort.
Mosquitoes won’t take the hint when you put out a bug zapper and a few citronella candles just before your yard party. If you have a dozen guests over, the mosquitoes will be drawn to a dozen parties of their own! You really need to set up your backyard mosquito control in the spring, when mosquitoes are just beginning to make their plans for your summer.
Backyard Mosquito Control, by the Numbers
To really understand mosquitoes, you need to get a tiny bit technical – but we can make that happen without too much pain.
There are an estimated 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world. A little under 200 of those species are in the United States, and about 12 carry a disease of one kind or another. When scientists name a species, they give it a two piece name (genus & species), as they did when they named humans homo sapiens. Still with me? Great!
The mosquitoes commonly known to transmit diseases fall into one of two types:
These little guys breed in stagnant water where ever they can find it. It only takes the eggs about two weeks to hatch, become larva, and mature into adult mosquitoes. Like many mosquitoes, they aren’t strong fliers, and generally won’t travel more than a few hundred yards from where they hatched from eggs. They’re fairly aggressive, and prone to attack from about dusk to two to three hours past dusk. This type of mosquito is is a common carrier of the West Nile virus. They actually prefer to bite birds, but as we all know, they’re good with people too! The most common of this genus is the Culex pipiens, which calls a broad band across the middle and northern states home, as shown in the map to the right.
Apparently different types of mosquitoes dine on different hosts, and transmit different diseases as a result. The Aedes family of mosquitoes is best known for transmitting heart worm disease to dogs, but it has also been known to carry the West Nile virus to humans. Unlike other mosquitoes, Aedes are fairly strong fliers, and have been known to travel as far a fifteen miles from where they hatch. They lay their eggs in moist ground, above standing water. The eggs won’t hatch until the area floods, and won’t hatch if the flood water is cold and clear. The preferred nursery for their larva is warm water full of organic contaminants – yum! The map to the left shows the habitat for the species you’ve come to know and love as Aedes Vexans.
Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are two other of the Aedes family of mosquitoes, becoming famous because they can spread the Zika virus among humans. Zika has been linked to human birth defects and infant deaths, as discussed in the videos below. The female mosquito can infect a pregnant woman directly, or can infect a man – who can then infect a woman through sexual intercourse for several weeks after he’s been bit.
Diseases attributed to the Aedes family of mosquitoes
For more information about protecting yourself from Zika and the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, visit https://www.cdc.gov/zika.
Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus also spread Dengue and Cuikungunya, which are typically not fatal in humans. The mosquitoes and these two diseases and discussed in greater detail below.
At this time, Zika, Dengue and Cuikungunya have no vaccines to cure an infected host. You can take the measures outlined in the videos above to prevent bites, and you can take preventative action against those bites with natural predators, such as the use of nematode pest control.
In all cases, female mosquitoes hunt for the nearest source of protein for their eggs. Your job is to ensure they don’t see you as that food bank!
Culex pipiens and Aedes Vexans maps: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus maps: CDC Surveillance and Control of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus in the United States