Learn about Utah Mosquitoes
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The word mosquito (formed by mosca and diminutive-ito) is Spanish for “little fly.” Mosquitoes have a slender segmented body, a pair of wings, three pairs of long hair-like legs, feathery antennae, and elongated mouthparts. These annoying little bloodsuckers are attracted to our body heat, carbon dioxide, and sweat. Females Mosquitoes of many species act as vectors for some of the most harmful human and livestock diseases.
To develop properly, both male and female Mosquitoes need water; they breed in standing water and lay their eggs. The female mosquito needs blood to produce eggs, and she prefers the blood of humans over any other animal. On the other hand, the male mosquito feeds exclusively on plant nectar and is not a threat to humans.
Mosquitoes can lay their eggs in any standing water, regardless of cleanliness. Mosquitoes only need half an inch of water to breed, so they can thrive in tiny containers such as cups and jars, birdbaths or buckets, or anything else that holds water. They are especially fond of flower pots with excess water or rain gutters that become clogged with leaves. It takes one week for the larvae to develop into adult mosquitoes.
Male mosquitoes feed on nectar from flowers, while females require protein sources from animal blood to produce eggs. Adult female mosquitoes can intake more than five times their body weight in blood after a meal. Field investigations have shown that female mosquitoes prefer certain blood types over others. For example, Aedes aegypti prefers to feed on human beings (Type O) over other blood types.
Life Cycle & Reproduction
The Mosquito’s life cycle is similar to true flies, with complete metamorphosis (egg, larva, pupa, and adult). Eggs are laid on the water’s surface, and larvae feed on aquatic plants. The “wigglers” in the water are larvae. The larvae molt four times before becoming pupae. This pupal stage lasts two days before hatching into an adult Mosquito. Adult Mosquitoes live for two to three weeks in nature.
Each egg-producing female can lay up to 300 eggs at a time and as many as 3,000 in her lifetime. Most Mosquitoes lay their eggs directly on the surface of standing water (oviposition). Mosquitoes will also lay their eggs in or near water containers. However, some species lay their eggs on moist soil close to water (floodwater mosquitoes), where they remain until the area floods and then hatch when covered with water. Others lay their eggs in tree holes or protected areas where they can stay until they are flooded by heavy rains (tree hole Mosquitoes).
Mosquitoes are the number one carrier of disease in Utah. They can carry West Nile Virus, St. Louis Encephalitis, and Western Equine Encephalitis. Mosquitoes can also transmit heartworms to dogs and cats. The county health departments in Utah are testing mosquitoes to detect the diseases the local mosquitoes are carrying and spreading to humans.
These diseases are most commonly spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes can smell their prey far away as they are attracted to carbon dioxide, which humans exhale when breathing out, and lactic acid found in sweat. The health department encourages residents to reduce their risk of mosquito bites by using repellents containing DEET, avoiding being outdoors during dusk and dawn, wearing long sleeves and pants outdoors, and removing sources of standing water around their homes. Click here to learn about Mosquito Control.