Mosquitoes are a type of biting pest that can quickly make people crazy and drive them inside from the outdoors. However, mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance pest; they are responsible for carrying and spreading many dangerous diseases including the West Nile Virus as well as Zika virus. Mosquitoes are found living and breeding throughout the entire state of Missouri.
Mosquitoes have a grayish colored body and have distinctive white stripes going across their abdomen; they are covered in silver, green, or bluish iridescent scales. Their body is narrow, and they have very long thin legs, a long nose (proboscis) that they use for feeding, and one pair of transparent wings. Adults grow to be about ¼ to 3/8th of an inch in length. The larvae live in areas of standing water and have a large head and thorax and a worm-like abdomen. Larvae move throughout the water in a wiggly manner.
The life cycle of a mosquito begins when the female mates and has a blood meal. They will feed from any vertebrate animal, but most species generally prefer warm-blooded animals. It is only the female that feeds on blood because they need the proteins found in blood to create their eggs.
The female mosquito will lay her eggs on the surface of standing or very slow moving water; most often many females will lay their eggs in the same area together. After just a few days the eggs will hatch and larvae will emerge from them. After about a week, the larvae pupate for 2-3 days. After the mosquito larvae pupate, they will emerge to the surface of the water as adults. These new adults will begin mating in just a few days continuing the life-cycle of the mosquito.
Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading a large number of serious diseases and pathogens to people, pets, livestock, and other animals. West Nile virus, yellow fever, malaria, tularemia, canine heartworm, and the Zika virus can all be transmitted by a mosquitoes bite.
For more information about the Zika virus in Missouri, click here and visit the Zika virus page of the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services website and for information regarding the Zika virus in the United States, click here to go to the Zika virus section of the Center for Disease Control & Prevention's (CDC) website.
The female is the only mosquito that feeds on blood; however, both male and females will feed on plant nectar and other plant juices as a food source. Mosquitoes are mostly found in areas that are close to standing water since this is where they breed and their larvae develop into adults. Common mosquito breeding sites are stream and lake edges, clogged gutters, bird baths, wading pools, old tires, wheel barrows, and piles of trash.
Most species of mosquitoes are active at dawn and dusk; during the heat of the day they will hide in areas of dense or tall vegetation. Dawn and dusk are the most common times to be bitten by a mosquito. The bite will result in a raised, red, itchy welt. You will most likely see mosquitoes swarming and feeding around your head, legs, and ankles. The bites themselves, while annoying, are usually not harmful unless they are scratched open and become infected.
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The best way to help limit the number of mosquitoes on your property is to reduce or completely eliminate areas of standing water. This can be accomplished by checking your home’s gutters and down spouts making sure that they are not clogged and by storing buckets, empty pet dishes, wading pools, and wheel barrows upside down when not in use. Shake off water that collects on tarps that are covering boats, woodpiles, or other items on your property. Fill in low lying areas around your property that may collect water during periods of heavy rain.
Other steps you can take to prevent problems with mosquitoes on your property include:
Trim back overgrown vegetation from the edges of your property, keep grass on your property short.
Place tight fitting lids on trash cans and dumpsters; regularly have trash removed from your property to prevent it from building up.
Make sure that screens and windows are completely intact to help stop these pests from following you inside.
Mosquito’s persistent nature and ability to travel long distances to search for food and breeding sites makes them a particularly difficult pest to control without the help of a professional. Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions offers effective mosquito control services including the installation of automatic mosquito misting systems in some cases. The system utilizes a bio-degradable, water-based insecticide, which is sprayed on your property, usually during the mosquito’s most active periods, in order to reduce and control their numbers.
University of Missouri
Missouri Department of Conservation