Maybe that is overstating it slightly. Mosquitoes do serve as a food source for birds, bats, and other insect-eating predators, but that probably isn’t on your mind when you’re scratching from head to toe after a quick trip to the mailbox at dusk.
Mosquitoes are a nuisance species. More importantly, they are a disease-carrying nuisance species. Inhabitants of the gulf states have battled the pests for centuries, but mosquitoes are one of the most resilient species of insect, inhabiting every continent, with over 3,000 different species worldwide. While we only have to handle 50 or so species in Mississippi, mosquitoes are one of the more annoying and dangerous bugs for Southerners to deal with, which is why they are the first appearance in our Insects in the South series.
Why you should care about mosquitoes
Put aside the constant buzzing and incessant biting. Mosquitoes are dangerous. According to theAmerican Mosquito Control Association, “Mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism — over one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases every year.” They also harm dogs and horses through diseases and parasites.
In Mississippi, we don’t have to worry about some of the most devastating mosquito-borne diseases, like malaria. However, the Mississippi State Department of Health suggests that mosquito species here carry at least four dangerous viruses. West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, and LaCrosse encephalitis are all harmful, and potentially deadly to humans, while Eastern equine encephalitis affects both humans and horses.
What you should do about mosquitoes
Like many insects, a mosquito’s life consists of four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. In order to reduce the mosquito population around your home, you will want to make it inhospitable to each of these stages. The most effective prevention is to reduce the amount of standing water around the house because the first three stages of the mosquito’s life rely on stagnant water. They need just a small amount of water to reproduce, so you’ll want to get rid of any open water areas, keep your bird baths fresh, and make sure your gutters are clean.
Once the mosquito is an adult, pesticides and repellents are your best tool. Pesticides like Permethrin kill adult mosquitoes and help break the life cycle. Repellents come in many forms, but DEET is still the most effective for keeping the blood suckers away. The female mosquito (the only one who bites) uses blood to nourish her eggs before laying them. If they can’t feed, they can’t breed.
While the total eradication of mosquitoes is not the end goal, you can do a lot to help reduce their presence around your home to protect you and your loved ones. This post presents just a few highlights of mosquito control. For more information, or to find out how we at Southern Pest Control Service can help make your home safer and more enjoyable, contact us today.
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