Spring and summer are prime time for mosquitoes to thrive. Unless protective measures are taken or efforts to interrupt their breeding cycle are put in place, expect untold numbers of the blood-thirsty pests to descend upon the neighborhood, attacking both humans and animals.
Know Your Enemy
There are an estimated 3,000 types of mosquitoes worldwide. In the United States, there are three that are responsible for most of the biting, itching and scratching.
Commonly known in the United States as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, it is native to China and was probably introduced to this country through used tires shipped from abroad. In the United States its range is practically half of the country from the Midwest to the eastern seaboard. It is immediately recognizable from the black and white striped pattern found on its body and legs.
The most frequent species to be found in the inner city, Culex Pipiens is also known as the Northern House Mosquito. Generally an unremarkable pale brown, it inhabits the upper half of the United States and southern Canada.
Anopheles Quadrimaculatus, often referred to as the Common Malaria Mosquito, thrives in the Eastern United States, from Florida all the way to Southern Canada. There are multiple species of the Malaria Mosquito, which are most active just after sunset and before sunrise. Although it varies in appearance, it is generally a very dark colored mosquito covered in black and brown hair.
Diseases they carry
The Asian Tiger and the Northern House Mosquito are known to carry various forms of encephalitis, including the West Nile Virus, and can transmit K-9 heartworms. The name of the Common Malaria Mosquito says it all.
Anything that can hold still water can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes: tires, clogged gutters, birdbaths, tree holes, storm drains, containers of any kind, swimming pools and bamboo trees, just to name a few.
How to reduce your exposure
It’s no joke – some people are more prone to mosquito bites than others. Those that emit higher levels of carbon dioxide can be easily recognized by a mosquito as far away as 160 feet. If you’re one of the unlucky one in ten that mosquitoes find extra attractive, here are a few tips for reducing your exposure:
- Make sure there are no potential harbors for standing water nearby.
- Wear long clothing during peak mosquito season and times.
- If it's too warm for clothing that covers your body, consider using a chemical repellant with DEET
- If you prefer an organic repellent, consider products like Cedarcide or Bite Blocker.
How to fight them off
Thick mesh screens generally work well as a mosquito repellant, but check for any holes or separations that might allow entry. You can also treat your clothing with Permanone, a common synthetic insecticide that will last through several washes. If you are outdoors and you can’t take advantage of a screen environment, citronella candles and mosquito coils can serve well, if it is not very windy.
The effects of home foreclosures on Mosquito Population
Foreclosures throughout the country have left many homes perfectly suited for mosquito breeding grounds. Unattended homes offer countless opportunities for mosquito reproduction, especially those with abandoned pools and ponds full of stagnant water. In many parts of the country, authorities have released into unkempt pools a tiny mosquito larvae-eating fish known as Gambusia Affinis to combat the infestation. Also known as the mosquitofish, they are a freshwater species that is remarkably adaptable to low oxygen saturation in water, hence their ability to survive in fetid pool water.