Knowing the mosquito
Because of its ability to transmit diseases to humans and animals, the mosquito has a bad reputation, and is often considered a nuisance. To produce eggs, the female feeds on nectar, but also on animal or human blood.
In Canada, there are about 74 distinct species of mosquitoes, 60 of them known for their ability to bite humans and animals. The most well-known is undoubtedly the Aedes species. Ubiquitous across the country, it is also the most problematic.
The preferred habitat of adult mosquitoes is high vegetation, usually near water, in shady areas. There is more activity in covered areas or during cloudy days than when sunlight is strong. To breed, mosquitoes settle in stagnant water, away from strong currents that can destroy their eggs, pupae or larvae.
Flooded areas or wherever water accumulates, such as tree holes, flower pots and bird tubs can also suit them.
Whether it comes from honeydew, fruit juice, plants or nectar, the first source of food, for any species of mosquito, is sugar.
In times of egg production, the female turns to blood, animal or human, to complete her meals. The male does not bite. The choice of target varies depending on the species of mosquito and the environment in which it evolves. According to these criteria, the mosquito will choose a reptile, an amphibian, a bird or a mammal.
Since they are born in flooded areas, the larvae feed on what surrounds them, such as algae, bacteria, micro-organisms, fungi, or in some cases, sea wrecks.
Species from Arctic regions target warm-blooded animals.
On an individual or group basis, egg laying occurs on water surfaces or in humid conditions. There are two hatching possibilities : the so-called direct one, when spawning occurs on a surface of stagnant water where egg hatching occurs after two or three days, or the so-called deferred one, that occurs when the eggs are not deposited in water but rather in a humid area. They will have to resist a drought period of several days or weeks before they finally hatch underwater.
Then, the young mosquitoes go through four larval stages, four moults where they are subjected to density, temperature or food subsistence constraints, during which they feed using filters and breathe through an air duct attached to their abdomen, before becoming pupae. After two or three days, the mosquitoes enter the adult phase.
While females have a life expectancy of a few weeks or months, during which they will lay eggs multiple times, the males only live for a few days after hatching, feeding and breeding.
The troubles caused by mosquitoes
While in other parts of the world mosquitoes are seen as a real danger of spreading diseases, in Canada the species are more seen as a nuisance.
The hum around the ears and sometimes painful stings or bites, are major irritants. Mosquito bites sometimes have adverse consequences for livestock.
Mosquitoes sometimes have the ability to transmit pathogens and parasites that can facilitate the development of certain diseases, such as malaria, encephalitis or West Nile virus or heartworm.
Recognizing an infestation
There are several signs identifying a mosquito-infested area:
- Observing landed mosquitoes in broad daylight
- The hum of a female
- The presence of larvae in or around stagnant water (presence of an active breeding area)