August 20th is World Mosquito Day!
Did you know there are about 170 different kinds of mosquitoes in North America alone? These annoying pests are part of the same family as horse-flies and fruit flies since they all have two clear, veined wings.
Best known as a summer pest (although the summer season is prolonged in Florida), mosquitoes can develop from egg to adult in 10 to 14 days.
Florida Mosquito Fast Facts
- Size: 1/4″ to 3/8″
- Shape: Narrow, oval
- Color: Pale brown with whitish stripes across abdomen
- Legs: 6
- Wings: Yes
- Antenna: Yes
- Common Name: Mosquito
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Diptera
- Family: Culicidae
- Species: Varies
We usually say, “I’ve been bitten by a mosquito”, but this is not completely true. In fact, mosquitoes do not bite. Female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar and blood. They need the protein to reproduce. To get to the blood, they pierce our skin with their “proboscis” and suck our blood. Male mosquitoes feed exclusively on plant nectars. Mosquitoes are busiest at night and will fly up to 14 miles for a blood meal. They hunt for food by detecting body heat and Carbon Dioxide, the gas we breathe out.
Mosquitoes thrive in Florida breed in soft, moist soil or stagnant water sources such as storm drains, old tires, children’s wading pools, and birdbaths.
Threats to the Florida Mosquito
Mosquitoes are vectors of numerous diseases including the West Nile virus, malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, and encephalitis. In recent years, the West Nile virus has become a serious concern in the United States. Signs of West Nile virus include flu-like symptoms. In extreme cases, it can be a potentially life-threatening infection with high fever, head and body aches, worsening weakness, confusion, and even coma.
- Replace all stagnant water at least once a week.
- Remove trash around any standing water.
- When sleeping outdoors or in areas where mosquito populations are heavy, surround your bed with “mosquito” netting.
- Screen windows, doors, and other openings with fine mesh.
- Avoid going outdoors at night.
- Use insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin anytime you’re around mosquitoes. DEET doesn’t kill the mosquitoes. It just disorients them and they look elsewhere for food.
You can learn more about how to deter mosquitoes from your home with Florida Health’s tips here!
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