- What are mosquitoes and how do they look like
- Difference between male and female mosquitoes
- Different types of mosquitoes
- Life-cycle of mosquitoes
- How to get rid of mosquitoes naturally?
- Chemicals to kill mosquitoes
- How to prevent mosquitoes and mosquito bites?
Perhaps one of the most common sources of annoyance and irritation at home are mosquitoes. They are like omnipresent! I remember the days when I used to meditate. I could never actually perform a perfect meditation because there could never be a complete minute of pin drop silence and without any sort of disturbance. Thanks to those mosquitoes!
Out of all sort of noises out there in our lives, I particularly hate that buzzing sound by mosquitoes. At times, I could even appreciate the sound of an atomic explosion at my neighbourhood but not them. I hope you can relate what I have been through. Some people are often seen trying weird stuffs to get rid of mosquitoes.
Considering the seriousness of the situation with mosquitoes, everyone should get to know these guys closely because they are damn fan of yours! You might hate them, but they would never!
What are mosquitoes and how do they look like:
Mosquitoes belong to insect class to the order Diptera. They are insects with anatomy similar to true flies with one pair of wings, long thin legs, a head and proboscis attached to their head. Unlike other flies, their wings are covered with very tiny scales. A typical mosquito would appear within a range from 3-9mm in length. Mosquitoes are often being mistaken as flies. But flies, most of them, would not bite and they would have legs not longer than that of the mosquitoes. These pesky insects can even spread number of diseases, out of which some are even life threatening! Mosquitoes can even pose threat to animals and not just humans!
Difference between male and female mosquitoes:
In order to differentiate between a male and a female mosquito, you have to look for the proboscis. It’s the long needle-like structure i.e. the antenna. If it’s smooth and sharp in appearance, then it’s a female or else a male with feathery and hair like structure on the proboscis.
Different types of mosquitoes
There are more than 2,000 species of mosquitoes found on this planet but here we will talk about those which pose a threat to mankind because of their nature and ability to transmit harmful disease to humans. These are:
- Aedes Mosquito: These are considered to be gravely dangerous type of mosquito. These can cause harmful diseases like yellow fever, filarial which might even trigger encephalitis and dengue. The recent infamous zika virus is also transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
There are several variants of aedes like aegypti, albopictus(also known as Asian tiger mosquito), Canadensis, sollicitans and nigromaculis etc. These types are usually found within cooler temperature zones and even in tropical climate areas. Southern and the northern part of the U.S are common regions for these mosquitoes to thrive.
Females lay eggs on the surface of the water body. The eggs of these species can withstand harsh cold and dry weather and gets hatched when these become wet and damp due to rainfall or weather. The larvae of this species can thrive in stagnant water around homes, drainage etc. The adult ones or the larvae can’t withstand cold temperature. The eggs can hatch within a period of 10 days during hot weather. Life cycle of the adult are limited to about a week or two at max. The adults tend to bite humans in the morning or late afternoon. They’re aggressive biters and their bites can be at time very painful.
- Culex Mosquito:These are mostly found in tropical regions. This species is not considered to be as dangerous as the other types of mosquitoes because of the fact that human blood meal is not the primary food for them. They would instead go for biting birds than humans. That’s kind of relief, isn’t it? However, culex are also known for spreading diseases like Malaria, filariasis, west nile virus and encephalitis. There are variants for this species too such as, erraticus, nigripalpus, stigmatosoma, pipiens, salinarius and tarsalis etc. They are widespread across the southeastern US, Florida, California and also in Atlantic and Gulf coasts respectively.
They prefer laying eggs on standing water and in the form of groups known as “rafts”. These rafts float on the water surface. There can be hundreds of eggs in a single raft which usually require three days to hatch.
Larvae of culex mosquitoes can breed in ponds, within stagnant water in old tires, gutters, puddles etc. The culex adults bite at nights and prefer birds and livestock than human.
- Anopheles mosquitoes: This is a very common species in the U.S. This species is infamous for spreading malaria to human beings. Certain genus of this species transmit plasmodium falciparum which causes life threatening form of malaria. In order to differentiate anopheles from others, keep an eye on the resting position of the mosquito. Anopheles mosquitoes rest in a slanted position unlike others.
The eggs are individually laid in pools and are kept on the surface of the water mass till these hatch. The larvae of this species rest parallel to the water body while larvae of other species just hang down. This is another way to distinguish anopheles larvae.
This species of mosquitoes attacks after dusk and before dawn. They even attack livestock. They enter house during those time and then start feeding on blood meal.
Life-cycle of mosquitoes:
Eggs: Eggs are released above the water surface in the form of rafts. Most of the eggs complete hatching into larvae within two days. Water plays a very important role in this phase.
Larva: Larvae lives within the water and for the purpose of breathing, they do come towards the surface of the water. Except for the anopheles larvae, others breathe with the help of siphon tubes. After their fourth molt, larvae finally turn into pupae.
Pupa: This is a non-feeding stage for the mosquitoes. They become mobile and can travel towards the bottom of the water body for protection. Culex mosquitoes require just a couple of days during the summer to turn into an adult. The pupa then develops further and the skin splits to make way for the adult mosquito to appear.
Adult: The final stage where the newly appeared adult rests on the water surface to dry up well before it can fly. Blood feeding and mating essentially requires few days to start.
How to get rid of mosquitoes naturally?
Stop wandering! Now let’s see how we can kill mosquitoes and make our home a safe place to stay. There are some tested and effective natural method of getting rid of mosquitoes from your house.
Yeah, the pungent smell! Even I am not a fan of its smell but it really works against mosquitoes. Boil water with few cloves of garlic and spray it on the walls of your house and possibly all around your house. Its odor will keep mosquitoes out of your house.
- The beer bait:
Seems like mosquitoes are into boozing too! They are attracted to beer. You can place beer in your house as a bait and they will get trapped in it. It surprisingly works!
You can make a dilute solution of listerine and water and apply it on your skin. Although, the smell might be annoying to some of you, but it will save you from mosquito bites for some hours.
It’s a natural mosquito repellant. You just need to light camphor inside your room and leave it for an hour or so. Do not forget to close all the doors and windows before you light it and leave the room. When you enter, there won’t be any mosquito to buzz around.
- Dish wash soap:
This is also helpful in keeping mosquitoes away from you. Squirt some soap solution on the mosquitoes and this will certainly help you to get rid of them.
- Tulsi Plant:
The Parasitology Research Journal has found that Tulsi is very effective in killing the larvae and can also help you to prevent mosquitoes from entering your house.
- Eucalyptus and lemon oil:
Form a mixture of these oils in equal proportions and apply it on the exposed parts of your body. The mixture has antiseptic ingredients as well as natural insect-repelling properties. This is far better than using nasty and harsh chemicals to kill mosquitoes.
- Citronella Oil:
It’s an essential oil which actually helps in keeping nasty mosquitoes at bay. You can either rub it on your body or you can also spray it around your home especially on the areas which you find more prone to mosquito infestation.
Most of us would love the aroma of lavender, at least I do. So, you can even apply lavender oil on your body or as a room freshener to get rid of mosquitoes.
- Mint Oil:
Mint has a strong odor which is abhorred by mosquitoes. In order to keep them away, you can either spray mint oil inside your home or apply it on your body.
- Neem Oil and Coconut Oil:
Make a mixture of both of these oil in equal proportion and apply it on your exposed body parts. The smell of this mixture can provide you protection from mosquito bites for several hours for sure.
- Use a swatter:
Nowadays, swatters with electric pulse running through a circuit inside the racket like structure is available. You need to charge its battery and when you turn it on and swat any mosquito you see, it gets electrified and is immediately burnt to dust. It’s not harmful to human but yes, should be kept away from children. Moreover, I really enjoy killing mosquito with. It feels just like playing tennis!
- Mosquito nets and clothing:
Use mosquito nets when you go to sleep at night. Additionally, you should try wearing loose and full length cloths to cover up your body parts while you sleep.
- Grow effective shrub/herbs:
Grow garlic or plant tulsi or mint herbs nearby your home. The presence of these herbs appears as barriers for the mosquitoes to come and ruin your world.
Chemicals to kill mosquitoes
This chemical is usually used to treat crops and vegetation but this can also be used to kill mosquitoes. This chemical has to be used in very minute quantities. It directly targets the nervous system of theirs. It’s not harmful to plants and animals but exposure to bulk amount can pose threat.
Similar to malthion, this also attacks the central nervous system of mosquitoes. This has to be used in very small proportions, about 1/100th of a pound to be used to cover an acre of area.
- Insect foggers:
With such devices, you just need to pop in the repellant and fog the area where you see them the most. This works even in outdoor locations. The fogger uses propane. This wouldn’t smell anything and currently is one of the best ways to get instant relief from mosquitoes.
- Indoor electronic insect killer:
These machines can be purchased from the market. This uses no chemicals though. The UV light from the kit attracts mosquitoes and the moment they come in contact with the electrified grid, they are put to eternal rest!
How to prevent mosquitoes and mosquito bites?
Preventing mosquitoes to create a nuisance inside your house is not that difficult. Now that you know much about their behaviors and their habits, these preventive measures will be easy for you to implement.
- Since they’re very active at dawn and dusk, make sure the doors and windows are closed properly so that they can’t enter inside. Attach nets or screens for the windows and doors. This way, even if you leave your door open, mosquitoes won’t be able to intrude.
- You can use mosquito nets while you’re sleeping. There are mosquito nets now available that come treated with insecticides to repel them and are affordable to buy.
- Strictly, do not let standing water stay for long outside of your room. Stagnant water inside cycle tyres and other unused containers are good breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Lastly, cleanliness has to be maintained at any cost.
If you’ve tried all of the above and still you find mosquitoes bugging you, then you should consult an expert who can analyze into the whole matter and provide treatment to this problem.
Do mosquitoes feed only on blood?
No! Female mosquitoes require blood in order to lay fertile eggs and they require blood meal every two days. Male mosquitoes as well as the female counterparts do also feed on nectar from flowers.
Do some people attract mosquitoes more than others?
Yes, they might. Blood type, certain body temperature might be some factors behind someone getting particularly attracted by mosquitoes.