I originally wrote this article in September of 2020 when Covid made mosquitoes the least of our problems. Now with people out and about, I was encouraged by friends at mosquito control to post it again. To control mosquitoes around your home it helps to know their life and breeding cycles.
Mosquitoes can be found worldwide from the topics to the Arctic and from below sea level to altitudes of 14,000 feet. Approximately 3,200 species of mosquitoes exist worldwide with 175 species found in The United States and Mexico. The minimum number of mosquito species in each state ranges from 25 in West Virginia to 84 in Texas. -Handbook Of Pest Control (Mallis)
More than 60 different kinds of mosquitoes have been identified in New Jersey. In the 1990’s a new mosquito invaded New Jersey. The Asian Tiger Mosquito, a black mosquito with distinct white markings bites her prey during daylight hours.
Because of their ability to transmit diseases to humans and animals, mosquitoes are considered by many experts to be one of the most dangerous creatures on earth. Malaria, a major cause of death around the world is transmitted by only one species of mosquito, ‘Anopheles’. The female picks up the malaria from an infected human while blood feeding and transmits it to other healthy humans nearby.
All mosquitoes develop from eggs deposited by females that have previously fed on blood. The female mosquito is very specific about where she lays her eggs and searches diligently for water that will be suitable for her offspring, but the kind of water the female selects for her eggs varies considerably from one species to the next. Most of the mosquitoes that breed around the home require stagnant water rich in decomposing organic material such as leaves and plants. Having located a suitable water source, the female mosquito deposits 100-200 eggs that will produce the next generation. Mosquitoes are aquatic in their immature stages and all species require water to complete their development. The entire life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in less than 10 days during periods of favorable temperatures.
This time of the mosquito life cycle is the best opportunity homeowners have to substantially reduce their mosquito nuisance by eliminating their breeding areas such as standing water around your property.
Adult mosquitoes obtain energy by feeding on flowers and converting the sugar from nectar as a source of fuel. Both male and female mosquitoes feed regularly on flowers but females require blood to produce fertile eggs. As a result, a female mosquito must find a host and blood feed before she can lay her eggs. Male mosquitoes never feed on blood.
The mosquito species that breed around the home are considered “domestic species” and rarely range far from human habitations.
The northern house mosquito, Culex pipiens, is the most common mosquito found in urban and suburban areas. This mosquito will lay its eggs in virtually any receptacle containing water rich in decomposing organic material. Breeding habitats around the home include: discarded tires, unwashed bird baths, clogged rain gutters and plastic. Even a bottle cap can be a breeding habitat for mosquitoes. Pay special attention to discarded tires that may have accumulated on your property. The used tire has become the most widespread domestic mosquito producer in this country.
Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have accumulated on your property. Do not overlook containers that have become overgrown by aquatic vegetation. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left out of doors. Drainage holes that are located on the sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed in. Clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season. Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. Turn over wheelbarrows and do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths.
Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended by a family that goes on vacation for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints to your county mosquito control agency. Be aware that mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on swimming pool covers.
Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts more than 4 days.
A walk around your property once or twice a week will help cut down unexpected breeding sites.
To obtain additional information on mosquitoes and their control contact your local county mosquito control agency. They can help if the source of the problem is not on your property. Mosquito control is organized by county in New Jersey and your county mosquito control agency has the expertise to inspect your property, collect biting adults and determine the source of the problem. Your county mosquito control agency can also provide additional information about mosquitoes, the diseases they transmit and the best methods for their control. If the problem is on a neighboring property Mosquito Control can request assistance from your local Health Department, who will follow up on the problem.
Most of the information in this article is from Rutgers Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet (FS) #80, Controlling Mosquitoes Around the Home.
This fact sheet has more information than I could put in the article including the life cycle of mosquitoes.
You may also want to research Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, Rutgers FS # 845
Happy Summer & Keep Keeping Safe,