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The complete guide to mosquitoes

Mosquitoes come out during the spring months and are most active at dusk during the summer - just as you are ready to relax outside. They are a nuisance pest because of their constant biting behavior. Many people do not experience serious side effects aside from the itchy welt their bite leaves behind. However, some species of mosquitoes can transmit dangerous pathogens that can cause serious illnesses in humans. Because of this, mosquitoes are responsible for more human deaths annually than any other species, which means having mosquito control is vital. Learn all about mosquitoes and how they can impact you. 


White-Footed Mouse



  • Family: Culicidae
  • Size: Small, narrow, winged insects (1/8”-3/8” long)
  • Color: Gray to black
  • Features: Long proboscis (beak) extending from head; hairy antennae

Mosquito species of concern out West

There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, with 170 species living in North America.  These are three species commonly associated with disease spread.

House mosquito

Found in both urban and suburban areas throughout the entire United States, the Culex pipiens is the primary spreader of the West Nile virus to birds and mammals.

Yellow fever mosquito

Found in the southern half of the U.S, the Aedes aegypti is dangerous and very bothersome to humans as it bites repeatedly, so they often inhabit areas where humans congregate.

Asian tiger mosquito

Found in the eastern U.S., southern California, and Southwest U.S., the Aedes albopictus is less threatening than other mosquitoes, but it is still a vector for 30 different viruses.

What you need to know about mosquitoes


Mosquitoes like to rest in cool, damp, and shady areas that are close to water. They breed in water and will lay their eggs in any type of standing water they can find – flower pots, ponds, marshes, buckets, old tires, water in tree holes, etc.


Mosquitoes develop from egg to adult in 10-16 days. They undergo complete metamorphosis, including egg, larva, pupa, and adult life stages. Mosquitoes breed in water, and when they become adults, they emerge from the water in search of food and mates. While both males and females have a shorter life span, female mosquitoes live longer than male mosquitoes.


Female mosquitoes feed on blood since they require protein for egg production, whereas males only feed on plant nectar. A female mosquito will fly up to 15 miles in search of a blood meal. Though some do bite during the day, many mosquitoes prefer to feed at dusk and dawn.

Diseases spread by mosquitoes

The good news is that not all mosquitoes carry diseases, but educating yourself and knowing how to prevent bites will significantly lower your chances of contracting one. Below are some of the common diseases spread by mosquitoes.

  • West Nile virus - West Nile virus is transmitted to humans after a mosquito feeds on an infected bird. Most humans have flu-like symptoms and weakness that can linger for weeks. Healthy people that contract the disease usually recover in two weeks. Those with a compromised immune system can take much longer to recover.
  • Zika virus - This virus is found in tropical and subtropical regions where mosquitoes feed all day and night. Symptoms include fever, rash, and body aches, but most people that suffer from Zika don’t even realize they have it.
  • Chikungunya virus - The most common symptoms of this disease are fever and joint pain. Most people fully recover within three to 10 days of contracting the virus.
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) - Mosquitoes become infected with EEE through infected horse and bird blood, particularly in the eastern United States. Encephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain, which often leads to painful headaches, fever, chills, nausea, and in severe cases, coma, and death.
  • Heartworm (dogs) - Canine heartworm disease can cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries. Symptoms rarely appear until the infection has spread beyond the heart. You may notice fatigue, lack of interest in food and exercise, weight loss, cough, and overall irritability. Prevention is key to avoiding this disease in dogs.
  • Dengue fever - Dengue fever is endemic in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and other areas that are frequented by North American travelers. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, rash, fever, and aches in the joints and eye sockets. Fortunately, this virus can’t be spread from one person to another.
  • Malaria - Malaria is not endemic to North America, but it can be travel-acquired. Flu-like symptoms can occur as well as profuse sweating, organ failure, convulsions, and blood and neurological abnormalities.

Frequently asked questions

How long does a mosquito live?

Female mosquitoes live longer than male mosquitoes, but they both have a very short life span. It is estimated that mosquitoes only live less than two months.

Why do mosquitoes bite humans?

Mosquitoes require the blood of animals for reproductive purposes. Only female mosquitoes bite humans and they need blood in order to produce and fertilize their eggs. Mosquitoes do not get any nutritional value from the blood, and they have to feed on nectar plants for sustenance.

What does a mosquito bite look like?

Mosquito bites look like swollen, red bumps. They can appear anywhere on your body, but are more often found in areas where the skin is exposed, such as your arms and legs. Mosquito bite appearances can vary from person to person, as some people may react to them in different ways.

When should I worry about a mosquito bite?

Most reactions to mosquito bites are minor and do not require medical attention. However, if you notice severe symptoms, such as an allergic reaction, we recommend that you see your doctor for treatment.

Are mosquitoes harmful to humans?

For most people, mosquitoes leave nothing but an itchy, red bump on your skin. However, mosquitoes can transmit diseases that can cause serious illnesses in humans. It is always recommended to use insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when going outside during dusk or dawn to protect yourself. Also, the parasite that is harmful to dogs is spread through mosquito bites, so be sure to protect them, too!

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