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Mosquitoes & West Nile Virus

Mosquito Facts:

Mosquito, the name is Spanish for little fly. There are 3000 different kinds of mosquitoes and a worldwide population of 100 trillion!! Most are in tropical climates, but there are mosquitoes in the arctic and desert regions.

Only female mosquitoes bite. They require a blood meal in order to develop eggs to make more mosquitoes. Most female mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Stagnant ponds, ditches and fresh or salt water wetlands are favorites, but even a few tablespoons of water in a flower pot or old auto tire will do. The eggs hatch, become swimming larvae, then pupae and finally flying adults. Mosquito larvae are an important source of food for certain fish, birds, bats and other animals.

They can fly up to 10 mph, dart between raindrops and even fly backwards. Most live and die close to where they hatch, but some are strong flyers that travel many miles in search of a victim.

What's being done about Mosquitoes and what you can do?

In their quest for blood, mosquitoes may bite birds, frogs, snakes, and mammals, including people. Some, called peridomestic mosquitoes actually live and breed around homes just to be near us.

24 hours or so after hatching, a female mosquito flies off in search of a meal. She homes in on body warmth, odor, moisture and the carbon dioxide we exhale. When she bites, the mosquito injects a bit of saliva that slows coagulation so blood flows freely. It's your body's allergic reaction to the saliva that caused the welt and itching sensation.

Mosquitoes can also transmit canine heartworm, which is fatal to dogs once contracted. For protection, pet owners can purchase a preventative medicine from their veterinarian.

Generally, the trend in the U.S. is away from spraying adult mosquitoes with chemicals. Whenever possible, government health authorities control large tracts of mosquito breeding land by larviciding. They use low toxicity biopesticides like Bacillius thuringiensis subspecies israelensis, a live bacteria that's deadly to mosquito larvae, harmless to other living things.

The mosquito that bit you last night may have hatched in the birdbath right in your own back yard. At home or with school or community groups, you can effectively reduce mosquito problems using common sense and environmentally-conscious methods.

Organize a neighborhood cleanup. It's a great community project that will eliminate lots of potential mosquito breeding spots and improve the view! Look for places where rainwater collects and stands. Old car tires, drain flower pots, children's wading pools and tree holes.

Goldfish and fresh water minnows Gambusia affinis will both eat mosquito larvae.

Microbe Lift is an ideal supplement to protect pond areas for excessive mosquito hatchlings. Check with your local mosquito control agency about availability and local regulations. Flush birdbaths and fountains weekly. Clean clogged gutters and drains, cover cesspools.

To humans and domestic animals, mosquitoes are a nuisance and a health hazard since mosquitoes can transmit a variety of diseases.

Additional Resources:

You, Your Family & West Nile Virus

Landscaping & West Nile Virus