Mosquitoes are a huge problem across the globe, causing millions of deaths annually. In New Zealand, mosquito bites are extremely irritating, as anyone who has been attacked during the hot and wet summer months can attest to.
Mosquitoes are from the same group as Diptera, otherwise known as the true flies. Like them, mosquitoes have only one pair of wings. They are equipped with long, thin legs with a distinct proboscis attached to their heads. Their wings and bodies are covered with tiny scales. Full grown mosquitoes vary in size from 3mm to 30mm (depending upon the species).
Where do mosquitoes live?
Mosquitoes are found in a variety of habitats. However, as they are acquatic animals who need oxygen from the air, you will most likely find them in stagnant bodies of water. This includes floodwater, ditches, woodland pools, and bodies of water found in backyards, like pools, ponds and bird baths.
When are mosquitoes active?
Mosquitoes are very prominent in topical and sub-tropical areas, and are most active during the warmer months.
Why are mosquitoes attracted to people?
There is no single factor which can entirely determine why mosquitoes bite some people rather than others. Japanese researchers have discovered that O blood types are more likely to be attacked by mosquitoes than A blood types. According to scientists, it is our genes that determine 85% of the factors which make us more attractive to mosquitoes. However, it’s true that mosquitoes gravitate towards certain types of people. Mosquitoes are attracted to people (some more than others) because of a combination of the following factors:
- Survival – female mosquitoes feed on the blood of humans because female mosquitoes require blood for nutrients needed to develop eggs. While males only exist for reproductive purposes, females have a proboscis, a long tube (their mouth), which is able to penetrate the human skin with the proboscis in order to suck blood. The blood provides nutrients for egg development.
- Carbon dioxide – female mosquitoes have long antennae, as well as palps, which sense odours. These are highly sensitive to the smell of carbon dioxide, which humans give off each time they breathe out. Mosquitoes can detect CO² from over 50 metres away, which they follow in search of prey. However, carbon dioxide exhalation isn’t the only factor which determines which person the mosquitoes choose to feed on.
- Human sweat – when we perspire, we release odours and kairomones which attract mosquitoes. Certain types of bacteria which reside on human skin also give off substances like lactic acid, uric acid and ammonia, which mosquitoes can detect. When your body temperature rises, you are more likely to perspire, which then increases your attraction to mosquitoes. Mozzie bites tend to be more frequent on the wrists, ankles, hands and feet, as these are the parts of the body which often remain uncovered.
Some people also appear more favoured by mosquitoes for other reasons beyond their control.
Do I need professional mosquito control?
Treating mosquitoes in New Zealand requires a multi-faceted approach. Flick Anticimex technicians must address the source of the problem (breeding sites), and identify and remove any stagnant water sources (which may be used as breeding grounds).
Mosquito control tips:
- Remove stagnant bodies of water – you may have noticed that mosquitoes seem to proliferate in certain areas. They favour areas around stagnant water, which provides a medium for egg laying and larval development. This is why it’s important to avoid stagnant water lying around in your garden or other areas of your property.
- Fly screens – install fitted fly screens in doors and windows around the home.
- Pools and ponds – for residents with a pool, please clean and maintain your swimming pool regularly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding on the water. For residents with a pond, clean regularly and consider purchasing mosquito-eating fish.
- Mow lawns regularly – tall grass can be used as a resting place, so ensure the grass in your front and back yards are kept trimmed short.
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