Stop Mosquitoes- A Homeowner’s Guide to Identifying and Preventing Infestations

May 26, 2020

Spring and summer are the perfect seasons for outdoor evening activities. Unfortunately, mosquitoes always take some of the fun out of those experiences. When it seems like there are so many mosquitoes that it would be better to just stay inside, it probably means there is a mosquito infestation.

But do not fret. Here at Excel Pest Services we’ve put together a guide which will help you identify mosquito infestation signs, as well as give you tips on how to prevent this from happening in the future.

How to look for signs of Mosquitoes:

1   Mosquitoes or Relatives?

A key difference between mosquitoes and their look-alike relatives is that mosquitoes can transmit diseases while their relatives generally cannot. So a crucial first step in identifying a mosquito infestation is determining whether or not the invading insects are, in fact, mosquitoes.

It seems as though it would be very simple to distinguish between mosquitoes and any other flying insects, however that is not always the case. Mosquitoes have slender bodies and long, thin legs. They have a single pair of wings and their head features a prominent proboscis.

Crane flies and midges are two species that are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes – midges especially. A way to distinguish between mosquitoes and their relatives is to look for the scaly bodies and wings that are characteristic of mosquitoes. This article, published by Purdue University, goes into greater detail on the topic of midges and what they look like, and can aid in identifying the infesting insect.

2   Temperature and Humidity:

Mosquitoes require a certain climate in order to be active, so it is important to take note of both temperature and humidity levels when monitoring for an infestation. Being cold-blooded, mosquitoes are not able to regulate their own body temperature. They thrive in temperatures of 80 degrees and above, and struggle to function in temperatures of 50 degrees and below. Mosquitoes are typically only active during the warmer months of the year, and their activity ceases once cooler weather arrives.

Depending on the species, they will either spend the winter as eggs which hatch in the spring or as adults living in caves, cellars, and sewers. However they spend the winter, mosquitoes will begin their activity again once temperatures are consistently 50 degrees or higher. Southern states like Florida will typically see mosquitoes sooner and in higher numbers than northern states.

3   Active Hours:

Unlike many other cold blooded creatures, mosquitoes cannot spend long periods of time in the sun. Sun causes mosquitoes to become very dehydrated and die. This, coupled with the fact that nights are often too cold for them, it means that their peak hours for activity are dawn and dusk.

Generally, mosquitoes will rest in some form of vegetation during the day, but if it is cloudy and humid enough, they may venture out during daylight hours as well. It is fairly normal to see a few mosquitoes flying around outside of their typical hours of activity, but seeing a lot during the day is a sign of an infestation.

4   Consistent Buzzing:

Mosquitoes are known to produce an irritating buzzing noise that can be heard when they are close by. Occasionally hearing a mosquito is normal. However, a consistent buzzing points to a large number of mosquitoes and is therefore a definite sign of an infestation.

5   Numerous Bites:

Lots of mosquito bites are a sign of a current or pending infestation for two reasons, the first being that an abundance of bites indicates an abundance of mosquitoes. But an abundance of bites also indicates mass egg production. Typically, mosquitoes rely on the nectar of plants for their nutrition and the females of most species do need to consume blood in order to lay their eggs. The more blood they consume, the more eggs they can lay.

Some species are able to lay as many as 200 eggs up to three separate times, laying a new batch of eggs every third night. In light of this, frequent bites can be the signal that enough eggs are being produced to cause an infestation.

Mosquito bites, being bothersome and potentially dangerous, should be avoided whenever possible. This fact sheet provided by the CDC outlines the preventative measures that should be taken to avoid mosquito bites.

6   Egg Rafts and Floats:

Egg deposit locations vary by species, but most female mosquitoes lay their eggs in either stagnant water or small depressions that are susceptible to flooding. Mosquito eggs, which hatch within 24 to 48 hours, will typically either form a raft or a float. Some mosquitoes lay each of their eggs perpendicular to the water’s surface and close enough to each other that they all stick together, forming a raft. Rafts of roughly 200 eggs are around 1/4 of an inch long and 1/8 of an inch wide. They look like a small piece of debris floating on the water’s surface, but closer up, it is easier to see that they are, indeed, eggs.

Other mosquitoes lay their eggs parallel to the water’s surface and far enough apart that they don’t stick together. Sometimes these eggs will drift together and their ends will meet to form a loose mat called a float. This article from the CDC, detailing the life cycle of a malaria mosquito, contains an illustration of both a raft and a float.

7  Seeing Them Around Indoor Foods: 

As we said, mosquitoes typically rely on plant nectar for nutrition so it’s normal to see them hovering around plants outside. However, seeing them hovering around plants, fruit, and other foods indoors is a sign of an infestation. When there are too many mosquitoes in one area, there may not be enough nectar to go around, which can lead some to wander indoors in search of food.

Mosquito Prevention Tips:

Besides being a major nuisance, mosquitoes can be quite dangerous. They are known to carry and spread many human diseases, including West Nile Virus, encephalitis, and zika virus. For that reason, mosquito infestations should be avoided at all costs.

To stop mosquito infestations there are certain precautions that should be taken. The following checklist can be used to minimize your risk of an infestation around the house and businesses.

  • Remove as many sources of stagnant water as possible; this means disposing of cans, buckets, ceramic pots, and other similar containers that will hold water. Similarly, wheelbarrows and wading pools should be turned over when they are not in use.
  • Water should not stagnate in birdbaths. Instead it should be changed regularly, ideally every day. The best course of action regarding bird baths is to empty them in the evening, considering that is when most birds go to sleep and mosquitoes come out to feed and lay eggs.
  • Outdoor garbage and recycling containers should have drainage holes in the bottom, so they do not collect any rainwater or other liquids. Garbage cans should also have lids on them to avoid attracting mosquitoes who may be looking for food.
  • Gutters should be cleaned every year, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees tend to clog them.
  • Aerating ornamental pools or stocking them with fish will help prevent mosquitoes from taking a liking to them.
  • Swimming pools should be cleaned and chlorinated regularly and any water that may collect on pool covers should be removed often.
  • Landscaping with plants and herbs that naturally repel mosquitoes, like citronella, lavender, marigold, and peppermint, will discourage mosquitoes from moving in.

Takeaway:

Mosquitoes are pesky and potentially dangerous, but that doesn’t mean they have to put a damper on spring and summer activities. Mosquito Prevention and early identification can make sure of that.

That said, if there does seem to be a problem with mosquitoes around your home or business, read more in our Mosquito FAQ page or we can give you some help with EXCEL’s Yard Protection Program.