Facts, Identification & Control
Appearance / identification
Mosquitoes belong to the same group as the true flies, Diptera. As such, they have a single pair of wings. They typically have long, thin legs and a head featuring a prominent proboscis. Mosquito bodies and wings most often are covered in tiny scales. Adult sizes may range from 3 to 9 mm.
Learn more about what mosquitoes look like.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Mosquitoes are best known for the habits of the adult females which often feed on blood to help generate their eggs. The lesser-known side is that mosquito adults, males and females, also feed on nectar from flowers. Their immature stages usually are located in standing, preferably stagnant, water. The larvae feed on variety of materials, depending on species. Most consume organic flotsam and tiny aquatic organisms. However, some species are predatory and will consume other mosquitoes. Adult mosquitoes prefer to be most active from dusk until dawn but can become active with sufficient cloud cover or in dark shady areas. They do not prefer to be active in the sunshine since they may desiccate and die.
Learn more about Mosquito Habitats.
Mosquitoes or Flies?
Mosquitoes can be confused with flies. Mosquitoes have long legs, and a long proboscis or “nose” that female mosquitoes use to “bite” people and pets to draw blood, needed to lay eggs. Most flies won’t bite and even long-legged flies are usually much smaller than mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are pesky pests and can spread disease such as West Nile Virus, dengue and malaria. More commonly, though, mosquitoes threaten family events more than health.
Males have feathery antennae they use to locate females. After mating, females typically seek a blood meal to aid in egg production. She often lays them in standing pools of water, but manmade sources can include bird baths, buckets and even mud puddles. Egg numbers vary from species to species but can be as much as over 100 eggs in a single laying. Wormlike larvae, called wigglers because of their wiggling swimming motion, hatch. They feed until ready to molt into pupae. The pupae are called tumblers, again due to their tumbling motion in the water. Adults emerge from the pupae onto the water surface where their exoskeleton hardens.
Signs of a Mosquito Infestation
Annoying signs of mosquito activity include the buzzing of the females and their bites. People have differing reactions to bites, ranging from mild irritation to intense inflammation and swelling. Learn more about Mosquito Bites
Signs of the immatures are their presence in standing water, which also can include watering dishes of containerized house plants.
Difference between male and female mosquitoes
Most of the differences between male and female mosquitoes are hard to see without using a magnifying glass or a dissecting microscope. However, other differences are fairly easy to see if you know what you’re looking for. Differences between male and female mosquitoes include:
- Male adult mosquitoes do not take blood meals, while the females do. However, a few species of female adult mosquitoes do not imbibe blood at all and feed only on plant nectar and other sugars, just like the males.
- The mosquito’s proboscis that extends out from the mouth area is relatively smooth with the females and somewhat bushy with males.
- The hairs or plumes on the mosquitoes’ antenna assist with the ability to hear. The male’s antennae plumes are very “feathery” and large, while the female’s antennae have a smoother, less feathery appearance.
- Generally, male mosquitoes are smaller than females of the same species and live shorter lives than the females.
How Orkin treats for mosquitoes
Mosquito treatment is usually an integrated effort involving source reduction plus the use of chemical control products when needed. Since mosquitoes develop in water, source reduction targets and eliminates water sources favorable for mosquito breeding. While source reduction is the more effective long-term approach to mosquito treatment, the mosquito treatment plan may require using chemical products to supplement source reduction.
The mosquito treatment plan begins with your pest management professional conducting a thorough property inspection and identifying the kind of mosquitoes causing problems. Once the inspection and identification is complete, your pest management professional will prepare a mosquito treatment plan that provides recommendations and assistance for both source reduction and necessary chemical product use. Some of the source reduction recommendations might include:
- Preparing a diagram of your property that shows the actual or potential mosquito development sites. Mosquito develop sites are normally identified as a natural or man-made site that will collect water. Some examples are low areas on the property that are prone to collecting water after rain, clogged rain gutters, flooded crawl spaces, water that pools around downspouts, water that collects in cans, child swimming pools, uncovered boats, tree holes or rubbish and debris that hold water.
- Providing recommendations to exclude mosquitoes from getting inside the home.
- Providing recommendations for vegetation management. This is important since many kinds of mosquitoes rest in vegetation around the home during the daylight hours.
Some chemical product uses that may be needed for mosquito treatment include:
- Applying insecticides to vegetation that adult mosquitoes use for sheltered resting sites.
- Applying insect growth regulators that prevent mosquito development in their water environments.
- Applying microbial insecticide products that cause mosquito mortality in their water environments.
More Information on Mosquito Control
Check out our mosquito infographic
Mosquito Infographic (click to enlarge)