- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Always follow product label instructions and reapply as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.
- Eliminate standing water in containers in and around the home.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Apply insect repellent to children (but not babies younger than 2 months).
- Spray insect repellent on hands to apply to a child’s face.
- Cover cribs, strollers, and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
Are you growing your own mosquito larvae around your house? Check around your house and property looking for containers, natural or manmade, that may hold water. Refer to the Homeowner Tips page for areas to check and to the Home-Grown Mosquitoes video to be able to recognize what mosquito larvae look like.
General Mosquito Questions (obtained from the American Mosquito Control Association)
Depending upon the species, mosquitoes can fly at about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour.
Domestic mosquito species, like the Asian tiger mosquito, have limited flight ranges of about 300 feet. Most species have flight ranges of 1-3 miles. Salt marsh mosquitoes can migrate from 20 to 40 miles, and up to 100 miles in exceptional circumstances.
Female mosquitoes need to obtain a blood meal 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.
Lifespan vary by species. Most adult female mosquitoes live 2-3 weeks. Some species that over-winter in garages, culverts and attics can live as long as 6 months.
Picaridin is a synthetic developed by Bayer Corporation in the 1980s. This repellent is the most widely used repellent in the world outside of the United States and is marketed as Cutter Advanced. Picaridin is odorless, has a pleasant feel and doesn't plasticize like DEET. Studies have shown it to be as fully repellent to mosquitoes as DEET and can also be applied on infants as young as 2 months. The 15% picaridin formulation, Cutter Advanced Sport, is also an effective repellent for ticks.
The other repellent, often the choice of those wanting a natural product, is oil of lemon-eucalyptus, sold as Repel®. Repel is a 40% formulation of naturally-derived eucalyptus and has a pleasant scent and feel without any plasticizing properties. It is also effective at repelling ticks.
Mosquito coils and Therma-cell devices can also provide some protection. Both utilize a synthetic pyrethroid insecticide that has repellent properties, but are most effective in situations of little wind, where the repellent mixture remains in place in the air column surrounding the body. The Therma-cell is a favorite among hunters.
Refer to the Brochures & Fact Sheets page to review documentation on review of repellents. For additional information, please refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
Mosquitoes are singularly adept at entering houses through any portal available, be it through broken window or door screens, attic soffits or through bathroom exhaust vents. A favorite resting spot is the garage, so take care to keep resting female mosquitoes from coming into the house through the garage.
If you have a deck, light it using General Electric yellow "Bug Lights". These lights are not repellants, but do not attract mosquitoes like other incandescent lights. Mosquitoes are relatively weak flyers, 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.
Scheduled sprays used by these misters may needlessly broadcast pesticides into the environment, affecting mosquitoes and non-target insects alike. Modern mosquito control strategies emphasize an integrated approach. Effective mosquito control requires continual survey of adult mosquito densities to determine if certain triggers for control are met. This reduces the use of adulticides to only those times when they are required.
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. 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. An estimated 71 billion to 350 billion beneficial insects may be killed annually in the United States by these electrocuting devices.
Bats in temperate areas of the world are almost exclusively insectivorous. Food items identified in their 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.
M.D. Tuttle, a world authority on bats, is often quoted for his anecdotal report that bats effectively controlled mosquito populations at a popular resort in New York State. While there is no doubt that bats have probably played a visible, if not prominent, role in reducing the mosquito problems in many areas, the natural abatement of mosquito populations is an extremely complex process to study, comprising poorly known ecological relationships. Tuttle attempts to underscore the bats role by citing an experiment in which bats released into a laboratory room filled with mosquitoes caught up to 10 mosquitoes per minute. He extrapolated this value to 600 mosquitoes per hour. Thus, a colony of 500 bats could consume over a quarter of a million mosquitoes per hour. Impressive numbers indeed, but singularly unrealistic when based upon a study where bats were confined in a room with mosquitoes as their only food source. 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.
Ornithologist James Hill, founder of the Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA), writes, "The number of mosquitoes that martins eat is extremely insignificant, and they certainly don't control them. In-depth studies have shown that mosquitoes comprise no more than 0 to 3 percent of the diet of martins". They eat only flying insects, which they catch in flight. Their diet is diverse, including dragonflies, damselflies, flies, midges, mayflies, stinkbugs, leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, June bugs, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, cicadas, bees, wasps, flying ants, and ballooning spiders.
Martins are not, however, immense consumers of mosquitoes as is so often claimed by companies that manufacture martin housing. An intensive 3-year diet study conducted at PMCA headquarters in Edinboro, PA, failed to find a single mosquito among the 350 diet samples collected from parent martins bringing beakfuls of insects to their young. The samples were collected from martins during all hours of the day, all season long, and in numerous habitats, including mosquito-infested ones.
Purple Martins and freshwater mosquitoes rarely ever cross paths. Martins are daytime feeders, and feed high in the sky; mosquitoes, on the other hand, stay low in damp places during daylight hours, or only come out at night. Since Purple Martins feed only on flying insects, they are extremely vulnerable to starvation during extended periods of cool and/or rainy weather. Rather than erecting martin houses to specifically attract insect-eating birds for mosquito control, we should at least promote them for their aesthetic and educational value.
A successful mosquito management program should include the following elements:
- larval and adult mosquito sampling;
- source reduction techniques;
- biological control using native or introduced predators and parasites of mosquitoes,
- larviciding and adulticiding, when indicated by surveillance;
- resistance monitoring;
- disease surveillance in mosquitoes, birds, horses and humans,
- public education.
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 pesticides 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).
The safety profiles of public health insecticides are undergoing increasing scrutiny because of concerns with how the specialized application technology and product selection protect the exposed public and environment. In fact, well over 200 peer-reviewed scientific studies in various national and international refereed journals since 1980 have documented the safety and efficacy of these public health insecticides at label rates in addition to their application techniques.