What You Should Know About Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are a way of life here in Florida. Our tropical climate and frequent rains are the perfect breeding ground for these annoying pests. Mosquitoes are also carriers for certain diseases, some of which can be deadly. In the United States, West Nile virus is the most common and dangerous mosquito-transmitted disease. Mosquitoes also transmit malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya virus and as many of us are aware, also the recent arrival of the Zika virus. With this in mind, here are some facts and information you should know about mosquitoes…
FLORIDA MOSQUITO SEASON RUNS ALL YEAR ROUND!!
Male and female mosquitoes feed on honeydew, nectar and plant juices as they use these sugars to survive.
Only females feed on humans and animals for a blood meal. She needs the blood in order to produce her eggs.
After a blood meal, the female will deposit the eggs in or near a body of water.
It can take as little as six days for a hatched mosquito to turn into an adult.
A female mosquito can drink up to 3 times its own weight in blood.
The female has the capability of laying up to 300 eggs at one time. They are deposited in something called a raft, or clusters, in areas where it floods often or there is stagnant water. The eggs then can hatch in less than an inch of water.
Female mosquitoes will lay eggs up to three times in her life.
Mosquitoes are cold-blooded and prefer climates where the temperature is 80 degrees F. or warmer. However, they typically shut down for the winter when temperatures get below 50 degrees F.
Preventing Mosquito Bites
Wear preventative clothing such as jeans and long sleeves when able to if you are outdoors.
If using mosquito repellent, make sure to use products containing DEET.
Make sure to consistently drain anything around your house that can hold water including but not limited to; garbage cans & lids, plant pots, wheelbarrows, bird baths, children’s toys, buckets, etc.
Make sure house windows are closed and sealed with a screen.
Viruses Associated With Mosquitoes
Florida mosquitoes carry 4 different types of virus called arboviruses and these include Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and St. Louis Encephalitis.
St. Louis Encephalitis is most common in Florida. 1 to 10 cases are reported each year and include symptoms such as fever, headache, dizziness, fatigue, weakness and confusion. These symptoms usually occur 2-15 days after the bite.
Adults over 50 years young tend to be more severely affected by St. Louis Encephalitis and West Nile.
These arboviruses are passed back and forth between birds and mosquitoes.
Malaria is the #1 insect borne disease in the world. However, Florida has had less than 100 cases in its history.
Concerns Regarding The Zika Virus
Zika Virus is spread to humans through a particular species of Mosquito called Aedes. Common symptoms of Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. People usually don’t get sick from Zika virus to the point that they have to go to the hospital from it and rarely to people die from the virus. Symptoms last for about a week.
The main worry about Zika virus however, is the effect it has on pregnant women and their babies. A woman who is infected with Zika during pregnancy can develop a birth defect in their new born called microcephaly along with other major brain defects. Microcephaly is when a baby is born with an abnormally small head due to their brain not growing properly while in the womb. Problems associated with microcephaly include delay in development, seizures, intellectual disabilities, difficulty swallowing, hearing loss, and vision problems.
Visit www.cdc.gov/zika/about/index.html for more information about Zika Virus.