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Mosquitoes

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Mosquitoes
There are approximately 2,700 species of mosquitoes. Only female mosquitoes bite, because they need blood to reproduce. During the 3-4 week lifetime of a female mosquito, it can produce over 1,000 eggs—which may hatch within 48 hours or, in some species, survive subzero winters.

Mosquitoes flourish in moist, relatively warm surroundings. They breed in damp soil and stagnant water, such as ditches and flood pools; however, gutters, discarded tires and other man-made containers make common breeding sites, as well.

Most adult mosquitoes remain near their breeding area, but the females will travel to find blood meals. Exhaled carbon dioxide attracts the female mosquitoes, as do moisture, color and movement. According to experts, most biting mosquitoes opt to feed on horses, cattle, birds or small animals over people. When attracted to people, mosquitoes seem to prefer certain scents—which explains why one person can be more bothered than another. A common allergic reaction to mosquito saliva causes bites to itch and develop the distinctive red bump.

Many species of mosquitoes bite more in early morning and at dusk, but some seek prey all night. Others prove more active during the day, especially in cloudy conditions and moist, shady spots sheltered from wind. Mosquitoes can bite through ordinary thin fabrics.

Mosquitoes aren’t just a nuisance. They’re dangerous.

Malaria, which is transmitted to people by the bite of infected mosquitoes, is one of the world’s leading causes of death. Infected mosquitoes pass other life-threatening diseases to people, such as West Nile virus—now widespread in the United States. They also transmit diseases to animals, including heartworm disease (to dogs and others), equine encephalitis (horses) and West Nile virus (birds). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm provides detailed information on mosquito-borne diseases.

The American Mosquito Control Association website at http://www.mosquito.org/info.php also provides in-depth information on mosquitoes. The site lists mosquito-prevention tips for homeowners, including the following valuable advice. Do not allow lawn and garden watering or irrigation to cause water to stand for several days. Change the water in pet dishes at least every third day, and in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week. Regularly check for standing water in the saucers of flowerpots, as well as on tarps used to cover boats and pools, etc. Check around faucets and air conditioner units for leaks and puddles. Watch for seepage from cisterns and septic tanks. Stock ornamental pools with top-feeding minnows (“mosquito fish”). Ornamental pools may also be treated with larvicides, including the recently introduced acoustic larvicide systems.