Few things beat an evening sitting out on the porch or lounging in the backyard while the kids play in the pool. Of course, one thing that can wreck your entire evening is mosquitoes. They seem to come out of nowhere just after sunset and can be relentless.
You may have noticed that if you go inside and return later when it’s dark, the mosquitoes aren’t nearly as bad. So if you came out even later, would they be gone? Many homeowners wonder, are these pests active all night, or do mosquitoes sleep like us?
Mosquitoes are Indeed Active at Night
The short answer is yes, but that doesn’t explain why they’re such a nuisance at dusk. If you’re in the habit of walking or porch-sitting at sunrise, you’ve probably noticed they’re awful then, too.
There are many species of mosquitoes. Some, like the common house mosquito, are much more common than others. Some species have been in North America forever; others are more recent invaders. They all get along happily because they have different feeding habits. Some feed during the day, while others feed mostly at night. Dusk and dawn are the only times they’re all out together, which is why you have a hard time enjoying the sunset. Once the sun goes down and darkness sets in, some species call it a day, while others are just ramping up, but the sheer number of mosquitoes vying for a meal drops.
There’s another factor at work there, too. Daytime mosquitoes don’t like being out in the direct sun. They tend to stick to shade under trees or shrubs–or under the porch roof. Once the sun gets very low in the sky, the shadows get long, and you are more likely to be shaded. That makes you all the more vulnerable.
The Feeding Habits of Common Mosquitoes
- Yellow fever mosquitoes have only been in the U.S. for a few hundred years. The primary infection vector for yellow fever, dengue fever, Zika virus and Chikungunya, these day-feeding mosquitoes illustrate the seriousness of mosquito problems. They predominantly live around people and sometimes overwinter in homes, living among houseplants.
- Asian tiger mosquitoes are a close cousin of the yellow fever mosquito. Larger and with a more painful bite, the Asian tiger mosquito spreads the same diseases, though not as often. These also feed exclusively during the day.
- Common house mosquitoes feed mostly at dusk and dawn, but they are one of the species that continue to feed all night.
- Southern house mosquitoes are widespread throughout the U.S., despite what their name might lead you to believe. These mosquitoes are vectors for West Nile virus, a few types of encephalitis and several other pathogens. Like the common house mosquito, they prefer to feed at dusk and dawn when the sun is below the horizon but will feed all night.
Are Mosquitoes Pollinators?
You might be aware that only female mosquitoes consume blood. Males get by with nectar from flowers. In fact, females eat nectar most of the time. They only consume blood because the protein is needed for their eggs to develop. Mosquitoes won’t go near people if they’re not preparing to lay eggs.
Most people tend to think the best thing mosquitoes do is serve as food to bats and purple martins. The truth is they do pollinate some flowers. The flower species best served by mosquitoes bloom in autumn. That’s because females stop laying eggs late in the year and rely more on nectar for food.
Goldenrod is frequented heavily by mosquitoes. If you have allergies, you may question if we should be happy that goldenrod gets pollinated at all, but researchers have demonstrated that most fall allergies are not caused by goldenrod. Its pollen is sticky and doesn’t blow in the wind. Ragweed is the actual culprit. It blooms at the same time as goldenrod, and its pollen is spread by the wind. People have assumed goldenrod was the culprit because of the large, showy clusters of flowers. Ragweed flowers are tiny, green, and hidden under their leaves, so no one noticed their role until recently.
While predominantly limited to northern states and Canada, mosquitoes also pollinate various native orchids like the blunt-leaved bog orchid.
Mosquitoes pollinate a variety of blooming grasses.
It is worth noting that while mosquitoes pollinate various plants, and pollinators are needed, as far as we know, no plants depend on mosquitoes for pollination. Other insects also perform that same service.
Given the huge variety of diseases spread by mosquitoes, you should not let their work as pollinators stop you from calling in pest control professionals if you have a mosquito problem. Even if you discount diseases, the bites of mosquitoes are a problem. The tiger mosquito is large enough that its bite can feel like a shot, and some people have serious reactions to mosquito bites. Professional pest control should always be contacted when mosquitoes cause problems. They can provide you with tips on how to deter mosquitoes.
Steps You Can Take to Counter Mosquitoes
You’ve probably heard the standard list of things you can do to keep mosquitoes at bay. Emptying standing water from old tires, buckets and so forth is always on the list. You also need to ensure your window screens don’t have holes and seal any gaps around doors to keep them outside. Mosquitoes can still come into the house with you, but they must be in the right place at the right time for that to happen.
Emptying and refilling pet water bowls daily eliminates any eggs laid in them. Washing out birdbaths at least once a week will eliminate any eggs or larvae in them. And larger fixtures like stock watering tanks or decorative fountains can be filled to overflowing every day or two to wash out any eggs on the surface.
You don’t need to worry about your swimming pool. Most mosquitoes specifically seek dirty water. The pool won’t be attractive to them. And for the mosquitoes that will lay eggs in clean water, the pool chemicals will ensure they never hatch.
If you have a lot of property, pay special attention to stagnant water sources downwind from where your family is active outside. Mosquitoes are attracted to us by the carbon dioxide in our breath and the scent of sweat and other chemicals we emit. That means they tend to hunt into the wind like any predator. Most mosquitoes won’t travel even three miles from where they were hatched, but the further away from your family they hatch, the less likely they are to find you. If they happen across a bird or mammal before they find you, they’ll likely feed on it, and you’ll never see them.
Still, the best you can realistically hope to do is temporarily reduce the number of mosquitoes that show up to ruin your evenings and threaten your health. Pest control professionals can provide year-long protection.
Does Rosemary Repel Mosquitoes?
It’s true. Mosquitoes don’t like rosemary. Neither do deer. Deer will walk right past rosemary to feed on your garden. Likewise, mosquitoes will fly right over rosemary to reach you. Many plants repel mosquitoes:
Unfortunately, these plants all share the same limitation. The mosquitoes smell you. Female mosquitoes will fly right over the plants to get to you. Remember, they need blood to reproduce. It would take a yard or field full of any of these plants to hide your scent. And that’s all these plants could possibly do–disguise your scent.
Keeping mosquitoes at bay isn’t something that can be done and forgotten about. Controlling them yourself requires constant vigilance. There are tasks to be done daily, weekly and periodically throughout the year just to minimize their numbers. That’s why it’s best to call in professional help for mosquito control.
ABC Can Reduce Mosquito Populations on Your Property
When the mosquitoes become enough of a problem that you find yourself staying inside just to avoid them, it’s time to call in the professionals. Our pest control professionals can treat outside water sources with methods that won’t put pets or livestock at risk. They can provide baited traps that are more attractive to mosquitoes than you are and will trap them out of sight and out of mind. And isn’t that the goal –to sit out in the evening and not have to worry about mosquitoes? Contact ABC Home & Commercial Services to get real help with your mosquito problems.