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There are approximately 3,500 species of mosquitoes throughout the world. Mosquitoes undergo four distinct life cycle stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The length of the first three stages varies by species and depends upon environmental conditions. Some adult mosquitoes have a life span of only four days, while others survive the entire winter in order to lay eggs in spring. Female mosquitoes feed on blood in order to lay viable eggs.
Mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals on our planet, since they are vectors of malaria, encephalitis and yellow and dengue fevers. After biting, their saliva can also cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
In most cases, a mosquito bite produces a red, itchy bump, which can bleed if scratched. Those with mild reactions to a mosquito bite can take antihistamines to reduce itching and swelling. Over time, some individuals develop immunity to the saliva of a mosquito and do not experience any symptoms at all upon being bitten.
People who spend a great deal of time outdoors or already have compromised/weak immune systems are especially susceptible to mosquito allergies. More severe reactions include blistering rashes, bruises and excessive swelling. In rare cases, a victim may experience anaphylaxis, hives or an asthma attack. In the event of a severe allergic reaction, a medical professional should be contacted immediately.
When spending time outside, light colored clothing should be worn, since mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. Because mosquitoes may be attracted to certain smells present in soap, shampoos and lotions, these should be used in moderation or unscented varieties may be used. Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus are most active from dusk until dawn. If possible, avoid being outside during these times. The use of citronella or insect repellent may be effective to avoid bites.
Mosquito control can be very difficult since all standing water must be found and drained.
- Remove their habitat areas where they live and breed.
- Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys or any other container where mosquitoes can breed.
- Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted plants at least once a week.
- Drain or fill temporary pools of water with dirt or cement.
- Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.
- Eliminate piles of cut grass and fallen leaves.
- Mow fence rows to cut tall grass and weeds.
- Keep rain gutters free of leaf litter and other vegetation.
- Prevent your exposure to mosquitoes.
- Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions.
- Use head nets, long sleeves and long pants if you venture into areas with high mosquito populations, such as salt marshes.
- If there is a mosquito-borne disease warning in effect, stay inside from dusk to dawn to avoid being bitten.
- Make sure window and door screens are “bug tight” and free of holes.
- Replace your outdoor lights with yellow lights, which tend to attract fewer mosquitos than ordinary lights.
The most rapid and effective pest control methods are those administered by trained pest control professionals.