|Alabama is home to around 45 species of mosquitoes each of which has a different habitat, behavior and preferred source of blood. Organized mosquito control is necessary because mosquitoes are not only a nuisance as biting insects, but are also involved periodically in transmitting disease to humans and animals.|
Mosquito control agencies reduce mosquito populations in various ways, including water management, biological control agents, and insecticides, which can be effective in controlling mosquito larvae (larvicides) or mosquito adults (adulticides). Mosquito populations can increase rapidly, and, depending on flooding and general weather conditions, mosquito control agencies cannot always keep up with mosquito problems in all areas. Very often, residents can help significantly by controlling mosquitoes around their homes and properties.
Mosquitoes Need Water: All mosquitoes have four stages of development-egg, larva, pupa, and adult-and spend their larval and pupal stages in water. The females of some mosquito species deposit eggs on moist surfaces, such as mud or fallen leaves, that may be near water but dry. Later, rain or high tides reflood these surfaces and stimulate the eggs to hatch into larvae. The females of other species deposit their eggs directly on the surface of still water in such places as ditches, street catch basins, tire tracks, streams that are drying up, and fields or excavations that hold water for some time. This water is often stagnant and close to the home in discarded tires, ornamental pools, unused wading and swimming pools, tin cans, bird baths, plant saucers, and even gutters and flat roofs. The eggs deposited on such waters soon hatch into larvae. In the hot summer months, larvae grow rapidly, become pupae, and emerge one week later as flying adult mosquitoes. A few important spring species have only one generation per year. However, most species have many generations per year, and their rapid increase in numbers becomes a problem.
Life Cycle of a Mosquito: All mosquitoes have one common requirement - they need stagnant/standing water to complete their life cycle.
There are four stages to the life cycle of a mosquito: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The female mosquito needs the blood meal to develop her eggs. Male mosquitoes do not bite - they feed solely on plant nectar. Female mosquitoes can develop several hundred eggs at each blood meal and lay them in or around water. The eggs are attached to one another to form a raft or the individual eggs float on the water. These eggs hatch within 24-48 hours releasing larvae that are commonly called "wrigglers" because you can usually see them wriggling up and down from the surface of the water. Wrigglers occur in all kinds of standing water, such as; ditches, woodland pools and unkept bird baths - anything that holds water for more than a week. In about 7-10 days after the eggs hatch, larvae change to pupa before becoming adult mosquitoes. The newly emerging mosquito has to stand on still water for a few minutes to dry its wings before it can fly away. That is one reason that mosquitoes don't breed in rapidly moving water such as running brooks and streams or even a pond that has a fountain. The female mosquito begins to seek out an animal to feed on several days after emerging from the water. Adult mosquitoes can live for a period of four to eight weeks.
Only the Female Can Bite: When adult mosquitoes emerge from the aquatic stages, they mate, and the female seeks a blood meal to obtain the protein necessary for the development of her eggs. The females of a few species may produce a first batch of eggs without this first blood meal. After a blood meal is digested and the eggs are laid, the female mosquito again seeks a blood meal to produce a second batch of eggs. Depending on her stamina and the weather, she may repeat this process many times without mating again. The male mosquito does not take a blood meal, but may feed on plant nectar. He lives for only a short time after mating.
Mosquitoes Can Transmit Disease: Mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever, have plagued civilization for thousands of years. Organized mosquito control in the United States has greatly reduced the incidence of these diseases. However, there are still a few diseases that mosquitoes can transmit, including Eastern Equine Encephalitis and St. Louis Encephalitis. The frequency and extent of these diseases depend on a complex series of factors.