Mosquitoes and their itch-inducing bites put a definite damper on outdoor fun, but the increase of mosquito-related diseases in the United States makes staying clear of these pests even more important. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that both common and exotic mosquito species can transmit disease-causing pathogens that endanger your family members, including pets.1
Understanding the basics behind mosquitoes and effective mosquito control can help you protect your family against this threat:
Most people have an idea what common mosquitoes look like, but many still confuse two other insects with these pests. Common midges and crane flies look very similar to mosquitoes, but one key behavior separates them: common midges and crane flies don't bite and suck blood. If you see a mosquito-like insect feeding and drawing blood, it's almost certainly a mosquito, not one of these close relatives.
Adult mosquitoes typically grow about 1/4 inch long. Their slender bodies have three segments – a head, a thorax and an abdomen – along with six legs and two clear, veined wings. Patterns of tiny scales, which vary with the species, give mosquito wings a slightly fringed look.2 Some exotic mosquitoes also have distinctive black and white markings unlike common mosquitoes or their lookalikes.
A final clue to mosquito identity is the elongated, needle-like mouthpart that extends from their heads. Known as a "proboscis," it's used for puncturing skin and sucking blood. Common midges and crane flies lack this specialized body part.
Mosquito larvae and pupae live below the water line.
All mosquitoes naturally pass through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.1 Common standing-water mosquitoes, such as those linked to the West Nile virus, lay whitish eggs in raft-like clusters that float on the surface. Exotic floodwater mosquitoes such as the Aedes mosquitoes, associated with the Zika virus, lay individual eggs right above the water line. These eggs turn shiny black.3 Eggs hatch once water from rainfall, irrigation or floodwaters covers them.
Some species can wait months or even years, but most eggs hatch within a few days to a month.2 Active, newly hatched larvae, known as "wrigglers," live in the water like tiny aquatic caterpillars. In as little as five days, larvae turn into comma-shaped pupae, known as "tumblers." Adults emerge two to three days later. For Aedes mosquitoes, the entire cycle from egg to adult can take just seven to 10 days.3 Then new adults start breeding and biting on their own.
Effective larvicides prevent rain barrels from becoming mosquito breeding grounds.
Mosquitoes naturally congregate in spots that support their laying and biting habits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend removing standing, stagnant water and treating water sites as integral parts of an effective integrated mosquito management (IMM) program.4
Rid your landscape of undesirable standing water; mosquitoes don't need much to breed. Empty any old flower pots, saucers or similar items where water accumulates. Repair leaky outdoor faucets that create mini breeding grounds below. Correct low-lying landscape areas that irrigation keeps overly moist. If water accumulates in a spot, eliminate it or police it for mosquitoes regularly.
For desirable water sites, such as birdbaths, ponds, rain barrels and water gardens, follow the CDC's IMM treatment advice for mosquito prevention. Where appropriate, establish a schedule to dump, clean and replace the water regularly. Then treat the water in these potential breeding sites with effective pesticides known as "larvicides."4 These products prevent mosquito larvae from developing into adults, so mosquitoes never make it to the biting and breeding stage.
The AMDRO Quick Kill® line offers two highly effective larvicides to prevent adult mosquitoes. AMDRO Quick Kill® Mosquito Bombs provide up to 60-day control for larger water sites, such as ponds and rain barrels. AMDRO Quick Kill® Mosquito Pellets offer up to 30-day protection for shallow spots such as bird baths, flower pots and fountains. Both these larvicides can be used around people, pets, birds and aquatic life.
Mosquitoes have fringe-like wing scales and a needle-like proboscis.
Most common mosquitoes peak in biting and feeding activity between sunset and sunrise. However, exotic species capable of transmitting Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya pathogens break that mold. These pests feed during daytime hours. For many regions, this means that all day, every day, during warm weather is primetime for mosquito threats.
In addition to killing mosquitoes with larvicides before they mature, the CDC recommends the following tips to avoid adult mosquitoes and their bites:
- Limit scented body care products. Fragrant soaps, lotions, perfumes and hair products attract mosquitoes.
- Use screened windows and doors in your home. If possible, use air conditioning instead of open windows.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing outdoors. Dark clothing may attract mosquitoes. Loose clothing makes it harder for mosquito to hit their mark.
- Treat outdoor areas within your control with effective mosquito pesticides, known as adulticides, to kill and control adult mosquitoes.4
Common mosquito eggs float in tiny, raft-like clusters.
AMDRO Quick Kill® Mosquito Yard Spray starts killing mosquitoes within minutes, same-day control for lawns, ornamental and flower gardens and other outdoor spaces. AMDRO Quick Kill® Mosquito Fogger kills mosquitoes by contact and sprays up to 15 feet away. Perfect for patios and decks, it also kills nuisance wasps, yellow jackets, gnats and flies.
By following CDC recommendations for effective two-step mosquito control with larvicides and adulticides, you can put a stop to the cycle and protect your family against the threat of mosquito-related disease. With mosquito basics and AMDRO Quick Kill® mosquito control products on your side, enjoy your home and lawn and get back to sharing special outdoor times with family and friends.
Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions.
Amdro and Amdro Quick Kill are registered trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company.
1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "General Information About Mosquitoes."
2. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, "Mosquito," Texas A&M University.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Mosquito Life Cycle," U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Integrated Mosquito Management," U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.