Mosquitoes are resilient. Thy can survive in almost any environment except extreme winter conditions. Although they prefer tropical, warm conditions as their main habitat, many species have adapted to living in places that are not traditionally mosquito hotbeds, helping them expand their range.
In this article, we will observe the many habitats mosquitoes love to thrive in plus what you can do to keep these tough little bugs away.
Aquatic Habitats and Mosquitoes
To start off, aquatic bodies are perhaps the number one spot where you would find several different mosquitoes species — especially stagnant water that is not moving freely. This relationship between mosquitoes and water is very different from other forms aquatic insects. While many water insects tend to spend most of their time under water, mosquito larvae spend the majority of their time on the surface of the water. This is why we stress controlling standing water in your yard — either with strategies to drain and remove the water, or by using mosquito dunks or similar products.
They do have access to air i.e. oxygen and eliminate any excessive carbon dioxide that piles up in their bodies. Water serves as the medium where aquatic mosquito species can lay eggs, grow and develop through the four stages of their lifecycle. There are mainly two types of mosquitoes that love to lay eggs and be close to a place which has water. These include:
- Permanent water mosquitoes
- Floodwater mosquitoes
Permanent Water Mosquitoes
For permanent water mosquitoes, stagnant water bodies like ponds and lakes serve as the best environment to breed and multiply. Such mosquitoes can lay their eggs in clumps of around 300 eggs at the corners of lakes and ponds or anywhere they can find suitable aquatic vegetation. Such mosquitoes even have the ability to lay eggs in isolated containers like buckets, tires and even plant vases left outside. Species that favor stagnant water bodies like ponds and lakes include:
- Anopheles quadrimaculatus
Floodwater mosquitoes, on the other hand, prefer laying eggs in soil that is moist. The female mosquito would lay its egg in a place like a small puddle and should it dry up; the eggs would enter a dormant stage. The eggs will then wait for the puddle to be “flooded”, allowing them to hatch successfully in a matter of days. Preferable floodwater mosquito habitats include drainages, floodplains, woodland pool and even irrigated pastures and fields. The main reason why these flying nuisances won’t go away if you live near a farm is because there is so many perfect places for them to live and breed in a rural setting with long grass and pockets of water.
Floodwater mosquitoes have also been observed to breed in containers, so they really don’t need much space to work. Some floodwater mosquito species include:
And just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, well these bugs can even survive in polluted water, acidic water and brackish water swamps.
Mosquito breeding habits also vary from specie to specie. However, for most of the aquatic mosquitoes, the fertilization of the female mosquito by the male mosquito occurs within a few days after the female has left her water source. Breeding usually occurs near the water source; mosquito breeding is one of the few activities not directly related to water.
Apart from serving as “nest” to lay eggs, water also tends to be the source of several foods for the mosquito larvae. They feed off algae and bacteria that they can come across on rocks near the water source. For adults, however, the diet completely changes. Male mosquitoes spend most of their little time sucking off nectar from plants and consuming sugars from any sugar source they can come across. Females are more determined to find a host in order to suck blood, which is their sole component of energy and protein. The protein is then vital for the formation of eggs within the female mosquito.
Dry Land Mosquito Habitat
While mosquitoes tend to thrive best in areas with standing water, they can certainly live in areas with drier land. In fact, the mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus have been known to do quite well in more arid areas like Colorado and regions experiencing a drought. This originally threw-off early mosquito eradication efforts in the post-War era, when officials assumed that mosquitoes lived mainly in swamp areas.
All mosquitoes need to breed is a bit of stagnant water — something like an old tire, a plugged gutter on a house, or a birdbath can give mosquitoes enough time to lay eggs, and for those eggs to develop. That process can take as little as 10 days, so the water doesn’t have to be standing for long. Additionally, a mosquito egg can survive on completely dry land for up to four months, and then spring into action once some water returns. You will also notice that once the mosquitoes are alive, they tend to thrive in areas with long grass even if it is not swampy or wet.
Urban Mosquito Habitat
Some mosquitoes thrive in urban settings. In fact, the notorious Asian Tiger Mosquito is one species that tends to excel in a more urban setting. These mosquitoes tend to favor man-made structures like houses and sheds for their breeding and lifespan. When malaria eradication efforts were underway in the mid-20th century, a key method of exterminating them was to treat the interior of homes with DDT. DDT is obviously used extremely sparingly in the world today, but the concept of targeting the interior of buildings is still a potential strategy for the urban mosquito.
How do you keep mosquitoes out?
Here comes the question everyone wants an answer to, so much that we devote a lengthy article to the topic of controlling mosquitoes. Now you might have come across various “natural remedies” to keep mosquitoes away; they do work to an extent, but there is the foolproof way you can completely eradicate the mosquito specie. Unless you’re packed with a super deadly chemical weapon that no one has ever heard about, your best bet could be to make use of two approaches.
One can be eliminating the source i.e. preventing mosquitoes from laying eggs near your house or property and secondly, killing the ones that fly around everywhere. The former approach tends to be a fairly effective one. Firstly, it should now be clear how important water is to mosquitoes.
If you live in a place that usually gets a lot of rain or is chronically soggy, then make sure each and every possible place that can hold water is dried out. Once the rain is out, look for puddles, small containers, tires and even outdoor plant vases for any stagnant water. Clear them out immediately. Should you come across a puddle or pond that cannot be easily drained, try tossing some bits or dunks in it. These tend to work well and are safer than using oils, which was the preferred method 100 years ago.
Another effective long-term way of preventing mosquito eggs or even larvae to develop into full-grown adults is to use a natural mosquito predator. Fish like Koi and guppies love to feast on mosquito eggs and larvae and can even survive in small ponds. This natural method can be effective as it prevents mosquito eggs from piling up in lakes and ponds. However, the fish themselves are always prone to their exclusive predators, and if some birds identify a pond with fish, it might turn out to be bad news for the fish. If you need a more sure-fire solution, go with the bits and dunks.
Moving on to dealing with the adult mosquitoes themselves, the ones that cause problems while you relax on your patio, try going for some conventional methods. Using mosquito pesticide sprays can be useful in killing the mosquitoes but the effect lasts for a short period, and these sprays are often packed with chemicals that might be harmful to you. Electric mosquito traps can also be fairly useful in controlling mosquito populations around your house as the blue light effectively attracts the flying bloodsuckers to their doom.
Of course, there is always the trusty old mosquito repellent, something that might not always be fun to put on, but if you have mosquitoes around it is much better to smell like repellent than get West Nile Virus. We like the ones with DEET — they are proven to work.
In conclusion, it is safe to accept that we will be with these bugs for a long time as they are not going anywhere. Surviving in our atmosphere from the day humans were born on this planet, our best bet to keep them away is to be on the lookout and take the above-mentioned steps of controlling them.