What do mosquitoes look like?
If you’ve lived in Maine for any length of time, you know what mosquitoes look like. After all, the running joke in New England is that the fifth season is mosquito season. These pests are innumerable and annoying. If you have the opportunity to look at a mosquito up close, you might notice that they are gray and have white stripes running across their abdomen and that their bodies are covered in green, silver or blue iridescent scales. Mosquitoes have narrow bodies, very thin long legs and one pair of translucent wings. They also have very long thin proboscis (noses). Only female mosquitoes use their proboscis to penetrate skin in order to feed on the blood of their human or animal victim. Both females and males use their proboscis to feed on the nectar of plants.
When are mosquitoes most active?
In Maine and New England mosquitoes begin to emerge during the wet weather in the spring. Mosquito populations reach their highest during the summer months when the weather conditions are the most favorable for these flying insects. Typically, after the first freeze and when temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees, mosquito activity stops.
On a daily basis, mosquitoes are most active during dusk and dawn when the temperatures are cooler. They hide in weeds, landscaping, and tall grass during mid-day to escape the heat.
Are mosquitoes dangerous?
Mosquitoes are extremely annoying but more importantly they are dangerous. A bite from an infected mosquito can transmit West Nile virus, Chikungunya, and Zika virus. In the past mosquitoes have spread malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. Mosquito bites from a mosquito not carrying disease generally only produces itching and red welts.
Mosquitoes and the Zika virus
The Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes albopictus or Aedes aegypti mosquito and by blood transfusions and sexual contact. The Zika virus is considered dangerous not because of its mild flu-like symptoms, but because there has been a correlation between babies being born with microcephaly in the parts of the world that are experiencing a Zika virus outbreak. Currently Maine is not considered in the range for these kinds of mosquitoes. For the latest estimated range, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/vector/range.html
To date, according to the CDC, any cases of the Zika virus that have been reported in the U.S. have been travel related; which means that the virus was not transmitted in the United States. The Zika virus was transmitted while the victim was visiting abroad and they returned back to the U.S. infected. A list of travel warnings created by the CDC for pregnant females can be found here: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information.
Where do mosquitoes breed?
In order to breed, female mosquitoes must lay their eggs in water where they’ll hatch and eventually develop into larvae and then adult mosquitoes. Really they only need a tiny bit of water so anything collects rainwater or any standing water could turn into mosquito breeding grounds. Clogged gutters, ditches, plant pots, discarded tires and kiddie pools are just a few examples of where you can find mosquitoes breeding.
Because of their nature, it’s impossible to fully eliminate mosquito activity from your property. With professional help though, you can greatly reduce their numbers and eliminate potential breeding sites. Here at Pine State Pest Solutions, our pest control technicians know mosquitoes, where they breed and what attracts them and will work with property owners to correct conditions that attract these pests as well as provide safe and effective treatment to breeding sites and areas where mosquitoes rest.
Mosquito prevention tips
Don’t want to spend your summer covered in mosquito bites? We don’t blame you, the warm weather is only around for a few short months. Protect your family from bites and make your property less appealing to these pests with the following tips:
Schedule activities during hours when mosquitoes are least active.
Wear a mosquito repellent and cover skin when going outside.
Consider wearing mosquito net clothing when gardening, mowing or other outdoor activities.
Clear gutters of clogs and make downspouts are pointed away from the foundation.
Mow lawns often, trim shrubs back and clear away tall grass and overgrowth to eliminate potential hiding spots for adult mosquitoes.
Clean up leaves and other debris around your yard.
Turn wheelbarrows, plant pots and other items upside down when not in use so they cannot collect rainwater.
Eliminate any other areas that allow standing water, for example bird baths.