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5 Frequently Asked Questions About Mosquito Behavior

By Chris Williams on June 29, 2016.
  1. How far can mosquitoes fly? Most mosquito species have a flight range of 1 to 3 miles. Certain large pool breeders in the Midwest are often found up to 7 miles from known breeding spots, and saltmarsh mosquitoes have been known to migrate up to 100 miles. Mosquito species that are adapted to people and their homes, such as the Asian tiger mosquito (one of the vectors of Zika virus), stick close by with a flight range of 150 to 300 feet from their breeding site.
  2. Why do mosquitoes feed on blood? Female mosquitoes take in human or animal blood so that their eggs can mature prior to laying. They don’t use the blood meal as food for themselves. Male mosquitoes do not bite or take in blood at all. In order to get energy, both male and female mosquitoes feed on plant nectar.
  3. How long do mosquitoes live? Lifespan varies by species. Most adult female mosquitoes live 2 to 3 weeks. Mosquitoes spend the winter in different ways and in different stages (adult, larva, or eggs). Those that quietly overwinter in protected sites like garages, culverts, or attics can live as long as 6 months.
  4. What good do mosquitoes do? Mosquitoes fill a variety of niches which nature provides. Both aquatic mosquito larvae and flying adult mosquitoes serve as food for various creatures, from other aquatic insects to fish to bats, but are not crucial to any predator species. If mosquitoes were eradicated, other species would no doubt fill the niches vacated by mosquitoes…and the replacement species may be even worse.
  5. What attracts mosquitoes to people? Carbon dioxide given off when animals breathe is the most universally recognized mosquito attractant and draws mosquitoes from up to 38 yards. Once in the general vicinity of a prospective host, other cues predominate, including body odors (sweat, lactic acid, etc.) and heat. They are also attracted to some of the more than 350 compounds produced by skin, and repelled by others.

[Thanks to the American Mosquito Control Association’s (AMCA) “Frequently Asked Questions”]

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