Location: Around the world, most often in humid climates.
Size: Between 1/4 of an inch and 3/8 of an inch.
Color: Light brown.
Most people are familiar with the unpleasant experience of being bitten by a mosquito. These pesky insects can cause painful and itchy skin irritations that leave you scratching for days. While a mosquito bite is certainly an inconvenience, this isn’t the only issue associated with mosquitoes. These insects can transmit harmful viruses and diseases to humans, including malaria and the West Nile virus. Explore what mosquitoes are, where they’re most commonly found, the primary problems associated with mosquitoes, and how to prevent these insects from harming you or your loved ones.
What Are Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are small flying insects that are part of the order Diptera and the family Culicidae. Mosquito is Spanish for “little fly.” There are around 200 different species of mosquitoes throughout the United States and more than 3,000 species in the world. The most common species of mosquitoes found in the U.S. include:
Asian tiger mosquito.
Yellow fever mosquito.
All of these mosquito species can transmit a variety of harmful diseases to humans.
What Does a Mosquito Look Like?
Adult mosquitoes are between 1/4 and 3/8 inch long and have six legs. Most mosquitoes are light brown in color, but each species varies slightly in how it appears. Here’s an idea of what each popular mosquito species looks like:
House mosquito: House mosquitoes are pale brown in color and have white stripes.
Asian tiger mosquito: Asian tiger mosquitoes are brown and feature silver or bright white stripes on their thorax, legs, and abdomen.
Southern mosquito: Southern mosquitoes share most of the same physical features as house mosquitoes, including white stripes and a pale brown color.
Yellow fever mosquito: The yellow fever mosquito is black and has bright white or silver scales on its abdomen and thorax and white markings down its legs.
All mosquitoes have two wings and hair-like scales all over their bodies. They also have a long proboscis, which is the mouthpart. Female mosquitoes pierce the skin of humans and other mammals with their proboscis and suck blood directly through this mouthpart. Only female mosquitoes feed on blood; male mosquitoes feed only on the nectar of plants.
Many people mistake other types of flies for mosquitoes. Other insects that resemble and can be mistaken for mosquitoes include crane flies, midges, and mayflies. Crane flies and mayflies do not bite, while midges do.
Where Do Mosquitoes Live?
Mosquitoes can be found in nearly every state throughout the U.S. Each species prefers certain climates, with the following being the preferred climates for the most common mosquitoes in the U.S.:
House mosquito: This mosquito is most commonly found in the northern area of the United States, including in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and New Jersey. House mosquitoes prefer polluted standing water, such as in pet dishes and storm drains.
Asian tiger mosquito: Asian tiger mosquitoes are native to Southeast Asia but have been spread throughout the United States via major transportation routes. This species is especially popular in California and continues to pose a public health threat in the state. Asian tiger mosquitoes prefer clean standing water, like what’s found in flowerpots and birdbaths.
Southern mosquito: Southern mosquitoes are most commonly found in subtropic and tropic regions, like much of the southern United States, especially Florida. Like house mosquitoes, southern mosquitoes are attracted to polluted standing water.
Yellow fever mosquito: Yellow fever mosquitoes are most commonly found in urban locations in southern Florida as well as in places along the coasts of Louisiana and Texas. This mosquito prefers standing clean water.
Problems With Mosquitoes
The primary issue associated with mosquitoes and mosquito bites is the illnesses and diseases they can transmit to humans. The most common diseases that are spread to people by mosquitoes include:
Zika virus: The Zika virus is most commonly spread by the Aedes mosquito species. This disease is most often spread in Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean, but there have been several cases in the United States. Symptoms of Zika virus include rash, red eyes, fever, and joint pain. Zika virus can have significant harm on an unborn baby by causing a birth defect known as microcephaly.
West Nile virus: The West Nile virus has been found in humans in every state except Hawaii and Alaska. Symptoms of this virus include joint pain, rash, diarrhea, and vomiting, though most people don’t have any symptoms. The southern mosquito can transmit this virus.
Malaria: While rare in the U.S., malaria can be spread via mosquitoes and causes symptoms such as headaches, chills, fever, and vomiting.
La Crosse Encephalitis: This virus is seen around 65 times each year in the United States and causes symptoms such as headache, fever, and nausea. The La Crosse encephalitis virus is most frequently carried by the Asian tiger mosquito.
Mosquito Prevention and Control Strategies
There are several steps you can take to prevent mosquitoes from breeding on your property, including:
Get rid of all outdoor elements that can collect and hold water, such as buckets, unused plastic swimming pools, tires, and containers.
Refresh water in birdbaths, flowerpots, and outdoor pet dishes once every two days.
Regularly clean out debris from rain gutters, and get rid of standing water around or under structures.
Incorporate well-working irrigation systems in your lawn and garden to ensure water isn’t left standing for several days.
Grow mosquito-repellant plants around your home or in your garden. Good plants to consider include catnip, basil, lemon balm, and citronella.
Wear mosquito repellant that contains DEET when going outside.
Taking precautions when going outdoors and getting rid of standing water in and around your home is a great start to preventing mosquito bites. If you’d like to learn more about how you can prevent and control mosquitoes in your area, give Bulwark Exterminating a call today.
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