Frequently Asked Questions
Depending upon the species, mosquitoes can fly at about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour.
Mosquitoes species preferring to breed around the house, like the Asian Tiger Mosquito, have limited flight ranges of about 300 feet. Most species have flight ranges of 1-3 miles. Certain large pool breeders in the Midwest are often found up to 7 miles from known breeding spots. the undisputed champions, though, are the salt marsh breeders - having been known to migrate up to 100 miles in exceptional circumstances, although 20 - 40 miles are much more common when hosts are scarce. When caught up in updrafts that direct them into winds high above the ground, mosquitoes can be carried great distances.
When feeding to repletion, mosquitoes imbibe anywhere from 0.001 to 0.01 milliliter.
Female mosquitoes imbibe blood so that their eggs can mature prior to laying. It serves no nourishment function. Males do not take blood meals at all. In order to obtain energy, both male and female mosquitoes feed upon plant nectars - much in the same manner as honeybees.
Mosquitoes fill a variety of niches which nature provides. As such, placing a value on their existence is generally inappropriate. Although the fossil record is incomplete, they have been known from the Cretaceous Period (about 100 million years ago) in North America. Their adaptability has made them extraordinarily successful, with upwards of 2,700 species worldwide. Mosquitoes serve as food sources for a variety of organisms but are not crucial to any predator species.
Life span vary by species. Most adult female mosquitoes live 2-3 weeks. Some species that stay over-winter in garages, culverts and attics can live as long as 6 months.
In general, mosquitoes that bite humans prefer to fly at heights of less than 25 ft. Asian Tiger Mosquitoes have been found breeding in tree holes over 40 feet above ground. In Singapore, they have been found in apartments 21 stories above ground. Mosquitoes have been found breeding up to 8,000 feet in the Himalayas and 2000 feet underground in mines in India.
At least 43 species of mosquitoes have been found infected with the West Nile virus in the United States. Not all of these, however, are capable of maintaining the virus in such a manner as to permit them to transmit it among organisms. Many of these infected mosquitoes feed only upon birds, thus contributing to a cycling of the virus among avian populations. Other species feed upon these infective birds and then will feed upon mammals, including humans. These are called "bridge vectors" because they serve as a conduit for the virus to travel from its reservoir in birds to its final host in humans or other mammals. In urban settings, Culex pipiens is usually the primary vector. In rural areas, particularly in the western part of the United States, Culex tarsalis is the primary transmitter.
Why some people seem to be more attractive than others to mosquitoes is the subject of repellent (and attractant for traps) research being conducted nationwide. Carbon dioxide is the most universally recognized mosquito attractant and draws mosquitoes from up to 35 meters. When female mosquitoes sense carbon dioxide they usually adopt a zigzagging flight path to locate its source. Once in the general vicinity of a potential host, other cues predominate, including body odors (sweat, lactic acid, etc.) and heat. Over 350 compounds have been isolated from odors produced by human skin. Many of these compounds may be attractants - and many may be repellents. As you can see, the situation is complicated and will require many years of testing before it can be sorted out. Visual stimuli, such as movement, also factor into host-seeking. What can be safely stated, though, is that ingestion of garlic, vitamin B12 and other systemics has been proven in controlled laboratory studies to have no impact on mosquito biting. Conversely, eating bananas did not attract mosquitoes as the myth suggests, but wearing perfumes does. People drinking beer have been shown to be more attractive to mosquitoes. Limburger cheese has also been found to be attractive. Scientists have theorized that this may explain the attractancy some mosquitoes find for human feet.
N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET) remains the standard by which all other repellents are judged. It is effective against mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, fleas, and ticks. Over 25 years of testing of more than 20,000 other compounds has not resulted in another marketed chemical product with the effectiveness of DEET. Most apparent repellency failures with DEET are due to misapplications, so care should be taken to apply it thoroughly (avoiding the eyes and mucous membranes) and to reapply when necessarily. This is crucial to maintain the DEET vapor barrier above the skin. New polymerized 30% DEET cream formulations provide excellent protection not significantly exceeded by higher DEET concentrations. Physicians recommend that a formulation of no more than 10% DEET be used on children.
There are a number of EPA-registered alternatives available utilizing lemon/eucalyptus (RepelR) and picaridin (Cutter AdvancedR) formulations. If applied properly and reapplied as needed, they are every bit as effective as DEET, and will provide adequate relief.
If possible, schedule your activities to avoid the times when mosquitoes are most active - usually dawn and dusk. You should also dress in light, loose-fitting clothing. If you have a deck, light it using General Electric yellow "Bug Lights". These lights are not repellant, per se, but do not attract mosquitoes like other incandescent lights. Mosquitoes are relatively weak fliers, so placing a large fan on your deck can provide a low-tech solution. Citronella candles have a mild repellent effect, but do not offer significantly more protection than other candles producing smoke. Also check out our Downloads page for information on how to build your own fogger using your lawnmower or our Fight the Bite page which provides a lot of information on how to help control mosquitoes around the home.
Black light insect electrocution devices (Bug Zappers, etc.) are purchased in huge quantities by homeowners due to their demonstrated ability to attract and kill thousands of insects over a 24 hr. period. But do they really control pest insects? Bug zappers do indeed kill some mosquitoes. However, the only two controlled studies conducted to date by independent investigators at the University of Notre Dame showed that mosquitoes comprised merely 4.1% and 6.4% respectively of the daily catch over an entire season. Even more important was the finding in both studies that there was no significant difference in the number of mosquitoes found in yards with or without bug zappers. What is particularly disconcerting, however, is the number of non-pest insects that comprise the vast majority of trap catch. Many of these insects are beneficial predators on other insect pests. They in turn constitute a major part of the diet of many songbirds. Indeed, reduced numbers of moth and beetle prey species have contributed significantly to the decline of songbird populations in many affluent suburbs. Insect electrocution devices undoubtedly bear some responsibility for this phenomenon. Mosquitoes continue to be more attracted to humans than to the devices. One study conducted in homeowners' backyards showed that of the insects killed by these devices, only 0.13% were female mosquitoes. An estimated 71 billion to 350 billion beneficial insects may be killed annually in the United States by these electrocuting devices.
At least 10 studies in the past 15 years have unanimously denounced ultrasonic devices as having no repellency value whatsoever. However, homeowners were urged to buy ultrasonic repellers and the like to rid their houses of pests without the need to inhale "even one breath of poisonous spray". This appeal to the public's chemophobia, while extremely effective in diverting attention away from proven preventive and control measures (and toward their repeller products), has undermined an unbiased review of the subject by consumers desperate for a clean, effective, non chemical means of mosquito control. Unfortunately, no such miracle cure exists. A pioneering study testing five different ultrasonic devices against four mosquito species convincingly demonstrated that ultrasound in the 20-70 kHz range used by these devices had no effect on reorienting flight by female mosquitoes either toward or away from human subjects. Additional tests have shown that sound generators capable of a wide range of frequencies were also ineffective in repelling mosquitoes. The fact is that these devices just do not work - marketing claims to the contrary.
During the 1920's several bat towers were constructed near San Antonio, Texas, in order to help control malarial mosquitoes. Mosquito populations were not affected and the project was discontinued. Food items identified in a bats diet are primarily beetles, wasps, and moths. Mosquitoes have comprised less than 1% of gut contents of wild caught bats in all studies to date. Bats tend to be opportunistic feeders. They do not appear to specialize on particular types of insects, but will feed on whatever food source presents itself. Large, concentrated populations of mosquitoes could provide adequate nutrition in the absence of alternative food. However, a moth provides much more nutritional value per capture than a mosquito. There is no question that bats eat mosquitoes, but to utilize them as the sole measure of control would be folly indeed, particularly considering the capacity of both mosquitoes and bats to transmit diseases.
Citrus County Mosquito Control's mosquito management methods are endorsed by the CDC and EPA are comprehensive and specifically tailored to safely counter each stage of the mosquito life cycle including:
Since its inception, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulated mosquito control through enforcement of standards instituted by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. This legislation mandated documentation of extensive testing for public health insecticides according to EPA guidelines prior to their registration and use. These data requirements are among the most stringent in the federal government and are met through research by established scientists in federal, state and private institutions. This process costs a registrant several million dollars per product, but ensures that the public health insecticides available for mosquito control do not represent health or environmental risks when used as directed. Indeed, the five or six adulticides currently available are the selected survivors of literally hundreds of products developed for these uses over the years. The dosages at which these products are legally dispensed are at least 100-fold less than the point at which public health and environmental safety merit consideration. In point of fact, literature posted on the websites of the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators and National Pesticide Information Center emphasizes that proper use of mosquitocides by established mosquito control agencies does not put the general public or the environment at unreasonable risk from runoff, leaching or drift when used according to label specifications. (For the federal government's position on risks associated with mosquito control insecticides, visit http://www.epa.gov/pesticides).
Here at CCMCD, we go to extraordinary lengths to accommodate individuals who, for varying reasons, prefer their property not be sprayed with approved public health insecticides. When surveys indicate the need for adult sprays, they are approved, planned and conducted with special regard to the concerns of chemically sensitive persons. Personal notification of chemically-sensitive individuals of spray times in addition to using Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Global Information Systems (GIS) technology to reduce the likelihood of drift over unauthorized areas are but a few of the means utilized to ensure mosquito control serves the entire public spectrum. Should you desire that your property not be sprayed, please visit our Request for Service page to put in a "No Spray" or "Call before Spraying" request.
The extremely small droplet aerosols utilized in adult mosquito control are designed to impact primarily on adult mosquitoes that are on the wing at the time of the application. Degradation of these small droplets is rapid, leaving little or no residue in the target area at ground level. These special considerations are major factors that favor the use of very low application rates for these products, generally less then 4 grams active ingredient per acre, and are instrumental in minimizing adverse impacts.