(Wampsville, NY – May 2013) Start your summer by being prepared to do battle against mosquitoes and other insects that carry diseases to your family and pets such as West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
The first step is to understand the life cycle of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes must have water for the first three stages of their lives; if mosquitoes have no access to water, they are doomed from the start.
The first stage of the life cycle is the egg stage. An adult female mosquito lays eggs in standing quiet waters because the eggs have the best chance of survival there. Sometimes, depending on the type of mosquito, eggs are laid one at a time or in multiple clusters called “rafts.”
This water may be in tin cans, barrels, horse troughs, ornamental ponds, swimming pools, puddles, creeks, ditches or marshy areas. Egg-laying female mosquitoes prefer water sheltered from the wind by grass and weeds.
The next stage is the larval stage. Sometimes called wrigglers, these larvae live in the water from seven to 14 days and come to the water surface to breathe. Most larvae have siphon tubes for breathing and hang from the water surface.
The pupal stage is a resting, non-feeding stage. This is the time the mosquito turns into an adult. It takes about two days before the adult is fully developed. When development is complete, the pupal skin splits, and the mosquito emerges as an adult.
The newly emerged adult rests on the surface of the water for a short time to allow itself to dry and all its parts to harden. Also, the wings have to spread out and dry properly before it can fly.
This entire lifecycle takes between 10 and 14 days, depending on temperature. The feeding habits of mosquitoes are quite unique in that it is only the adult females that bite humans and other animals.
Do battle this spring and summer. Be vigilant to empty containers on your property, to refresh bird baths and children’s inflatable swimming pools at least every three days.
Stop those mosquitoes from laying a new batch of offspring.
Virginia Zombek is a public health educator with Madison County Department of Health.