Mosquito FAQs

Get the Mosquito Facts

image of mosquitoMosquito, from the Spanish or Portuguese meaning little fly, is a common insect in the family Culicidae.

Mosquitoes go through four stages in their lifecycle: egg, larva pupa and adult or imago. Adult females lay their eggs in water, which can be a salt marsh, a lake, a puddle, a natural reservoir on a plant, or an artificial water container such as a plastic bucket. The first three stages are aquatic and last 5–14 days, depending on the species and the ambient temperature; eggs hatch to become larvae, then pupae. The adult mosquito emerges from the pupa as it floats at the water surface. Adults live for 4–8 weeks.

Mosquitoes have mouthparts that are adapted for piercing the skin of plants and animals. While males typically feed on nectar and plant juices, the female needs to obtain nutrients from a “blood meal” before she can produce eggs. Below are some of our most frequently asked questions and basic mosquito facts that will help keep you and your family healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do mosquitoes bite humans?
Female mosquitoes require a blood meal for every batch of eggs they produce. Proteins and nutrients from blood are reserved for egg production and consumed only by females. Both sexes instead rely on sugar as their main source of energy. They feed on plant nectar, fruit juices and other plant liquids containing sugar. The sugar is burned as fuel and is replenished on a regular basis.

Why are mosquitoes drawn to certain people more than others?
Many factors that determine mosquito-feeding behavior are still not understood. However, these factors seem clear: Female mosquitoes use carbon dioxide as a primary cue to a person’s location. A host-seeking mosquito is guided to its skin by following the carbon dioxide emitted when a host exhales. Once they’ve landed, a number of short-range attractants are used by the mosquito to determine if the host can provide an acceptable blood meal. Folic acid appears to be important in making this determination.

Can mosquitoes cause and spread disease?
Yes. Mosquitoes are the most formidable transmitters of disease in the animal kingdom. Several of the most severe diseases (human and other) spread by mosquitoes include malaria, encephalitis, yellow fever, dog heartworm, human elephantiasis, and West Nile virus.

Do mosquitoes transmit AIDS?
No. The AIDS virus cannot survive or multiply in mosquitoes. It is digested along with the contents of the blood meal.

What happens to mosquitoes in the winter?
Mosquitoes are cold-blooded and, as a result, are incapable of regulating body heat. Mosquitoes cannot function below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. With the onset of colder weather mosquitoes enter hibernation in order to survive. Some species lay hardy eggs that survive the cold to hatch in spring, while others hibernate in various developmental stages (larval, pupae).

Are bug lights effective?
Ultraviolet bug lights, or ‘zappers’ are relatively ineffective against mosquitoes, who seek light colors, heat, and carbon dioxide, none or which is emitted by zappers. In addition, zappers kill indiscriminately, eliminating insects that are beneficial, as well as those who may feed on mosquitoes.