You’re proud of your home. You’ve spent years caring for it, improving it and making it suit your style. Your home and landscape have never looked better.
But there’s still a problem you’ll encounter, simply because you live in Texas.
In addition to being an annoyance, these tiny biting creatures pose an immediate risk to you, your family and your pets. Maybe you’re starting to feel their presence every time you step outside or you’re tired of getting covered in itchy bites. You might find yourself wondering: are mosquitoes really a problem here in Texas?
Mosquitoes in Texas: What Homeowners Should Know
You probably can’t spend much time outside without feeling the itch of new mosquito bites. New reports of cases of mosquito-borne diseases, such as the Zika virus, don’t seem to be going away.
Now may be the time to rethink the measures you take to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes. Let’s take a look at the most common mosquitoes in Texas, the risks that they pose and what you can do to keep them away from your property.
Texas Mosquito Species
Texas has the “honor” of hosting a huge percentage of the U.S. mosquito population. In fact, eighty-five mosquito species have been documented in our state. We are all familiar with what a mosquito looks like, and the differences between the species are often difficult to catch for the untrained eye. Here’s a list of the 24 most common mosquitoes in the state, when they are most active and in which part of the state you would most likely encounter them.
The Aedes aegypti, more commonly known as the Yellow fever mosquito, transmits–you guessed it– Yellow fever, a flu-like illness that can be fatal. This species also can spread the dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses. People suffering from dengue fever can experience a sudden spike in body temperature and sharp pain in their joints. Symptoms associated with the Zika virus include fever, skin rashes, red eyes, muscle and joint pain and headaches. Those suffering from Chikungunya fever may experience fever, joint and muscle pain, headaches, fatigue and rashes. Yellow fever mosquitoes feed during the day and are most commonly found in south and east Texas.
The invasive Asian tiger mosquito also transmits the dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses. In addition to posing health risks to humans, the Aedes albopictus also feeds on the blood of dogs, rabbits and other mammals, including livestock. The tiger mosquito is located in east Texas and feeds during the day.
The Summer salt marsh mosquito also bites dog and cattle, in addition to feeding on human hosts. The Aedes dorsalis also is a vector for the dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses. Although you can get bitten by this mosquito during the day, they are most active in the evening. You are more likely to encounter the Summer salt marsh mosquito in western and central Texas.
Humans, dogs, rabbits and other mammals can all fall victim to a bite from an Irrigated pasture mosquito. These pests can transmit malaria and are most active during the day. You can find Aedes nigromaculis in western, central and southern parts of Texas.
The Eastern salt marsh mosquito is another species which has made its way to Texas. This species can transmit the dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses, and you’ll most likely get bitten by one of these mosquitoes during the day. Located statewide, the Aedes sollicitans feeds on people, dogs, rabbits and other mammals.
The female Black salt march mosquito can transmit the parasites that cause heartworms in dogs. In addition, this species of mosquito is a vector for the dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses. The Aedes taeniorhynchus feed both day and night, and you are most likely to encounter this species along the southeast coastline of Texas.
Another type of mosquito you’ll find statewide in Texas is the Aedes thelcter. This mosquito feeds on people, dogs, rabbits, and other mammals both day and night. You are most likely to encounter this species along the coast, although it is found statewide. You can contract the dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses from this type of mosquito.
The eastern treehole mosquito transmits the LaCrosse encephalitis virus both during the daytime hours and at night. This mosquito species is found statewide and is feeds on both humans and small mammals.
This floodwater mosquito can transmit febrile illness in humans and the parasite for heartworm in dogs. The Aedes trivittatus, found statewide, preys on small mammals and humans and is most active in the evening and early morning.
Humans, large mammals, dogs and rabbits can be affected by this species of inland floodwater mosquito. The Aedes vexans feeds both day and night across Texas and is a vector for both the Zika and West Nile viruses. Although most people who contract the West Nile virus only develop minor symptoms, some people experience a life-threatening inflammation of the spinal cord or brain.
The Anopheles crucians, a species which breeds in permanent or semi-permanent bodies of water, may be a vector for malaria. Malaria causes recurrent chills in those who are affected, as well as a high fever and sweating. Other potential symptoms include headaches, nausea and diarrhea. Both humans and mammals are at risk. This type of mosquito feeds all day long and can be found in west, central and east Texas.
Another species of mosquito which transmits malaria is Anopheles pseudopunctipennis, which breeds in riverside pools containing algae. Located statewide, this type of mosquito also transmits the parasite for heartworm in dogs. Both humans and mammals are hosts for this mosquito, which feeds primarily at night.
People and livestock are the most common hosts for marsh mosquitoes, which are found in west, central and east Texas. Feeding at dusk and at night, the Anopheles quadrimaculatus can transmit malaria.
In addition to the West Nile virus, Culex erraticus is a vector for both the equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis viruses. This mosquito impacts birds, large mammals, amphibians, reptiles and humans. Feeding at night, the Culex erraticus can be found across the state.
Another insect species found statewide which transmits the equine encephalitis virus is the Culex melaniconion. Large mammals and humans are vulnerable to this mosquito, which feeds day and night.
The southern house mosquito feeds on both large mammals and humans at night. Found statewide, this mosquito is a vector for both the St. Louis encephalitis virus and the West Nile virus.
Day or night, you can find the Culex restuans species feeding on birds, mammals and humans. Found across the state, this type of mosquito can transmit the Western equine encephalitis virus and the West Nile virus.
Located statewide, the Culex salinarius feeds on birds, mammals and humans. Feeding primarily at dusk and at night, this type of mosquito can transmit several encephalitis viruses, as well as the West Nile virus.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the Western encephalitis mosquito transmits the Western encephalitis virus, the St. Louis encephalitis virus and the West Nile virus. Birds, mammals and humans are affected by this insect, which feeds day or night and can be found statewide.
This mosquito is sometimes referred to as the “winter mosquito” since it usually breeds during cooler weather. The Culiseta inornata feeds both day and night and is found across the state of Texas. Birds, animals and humans are at risk from this mosquito, which is a vector for the Western encephalitis virus and the West Nile virus.
The Psorophora ciliata is native to the eastern part of the United States. You can find this type of mosquito throughout Texas. They prefer to feed during the daylight hours and prey on birds, mammals and humans. Unfortunately, this mosquito is a vector for the Western encephalitis virus and the West Nile virus.
This species of mosquito, also known as the Black Gallinipper mosquito, preys on mammals, especially cattle. Because of the high volume of adults who can swarm at one time, the Psorophora columbiae can kill a cow by suffocating it. Located statewide and feeding any time of day, these mosquitoes are a vector for the Western encephalitis virus and West Nile virus.
Across Texas, you can find the Psorophora cyanescens, a type of mosquito which transmits the Western encephalitis virus and the West Nile virus. Mammals–particularly cattle–are at risk from this mosquito, which feeds day and night, especially during the evening.
Another mosquito species which feeds throughout the day is the Psorophora signipennis, which preys on mammals and humans. As a vect0r f0r both Western encephalitis virus and West Nile virus, this mosquito can be found across the state.
These are the most common mosquitoes that pose threats to humans and animals in Texas, but remember, dozens more species exist. Every county in Texas is threatened by the presence of these pesky creatures and the diseases they carry. Your next questions are most likely where can I find these mosquitoes and how can I protect my family from these pests?
Types of Mosquitoes in Texas and Where They Breed
As you probably know, mosquito eggs need water to hatch. Contrary to popular belief, these biting pests don’t always require standing water to breed, as some species can lay eggs in moist soil, which dries before the eggs hatch. These floodwater mosquitoes or transient water species are found in Texas. Other mosquito species found across the state do lay eggs in standing water. These species are sometimes called “permanent water mosquitoes”. Larvae of treehole mosquitoes and are aquatic, since these species live in cavities or other containers which collect water, such as inside of deciduous trees. Still other mosquito species reproduce in streams and other types of running water.
Mosquito Bites in Texas: How to Protect Yourself
As you can see from the listing of feeding times above, no time of day is completely safe for avoiding mosquito bites. The worst times of day tend to be dusk and evening for most species, however. Naturally, that coincides with the time many people enjoy sitting outside and relaxing after a long day.
So how can you enjoy your time outside and not worry as much about the risks from mosquito bites?
Understand peak activity seasons
Mosquito season in Texas peaks during the warmer months of the year. Expect higher populations of the pests in the spring, summer and early fall. If you live along the coast, you can expect high populations almost year-round.
It’s a good idea to spray yourself with EPA-registered insect repellent if you’re working outside during the day or headed outdoors in the evening. Better yet, wear long sleeves and long pants to give these biting pests less room for attack. Mosquitoes are attracted by the carbon dioxide you exhale, so burn citronella candles or torches to break up carbon dioxide you are emitting to help keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Eliminate standing water
To make a big difference in your backyard mosquito population, it’s essential to remove all sources of standing water to eliminate their breeding grounds.
Here are several places to regularly look for standing water:
- Trays underneath plant containers
- Pet water dishes
- Bird baths
- Overturned lids from trash cans
- Old tires
- Wading pools
- Pools and hot tubs
- Drainage ditches
- Stormwater basins
- Wastewater containers
Enlist the help of your neighbors in eliminating many local sources of standing water. They’ll appreciate lower populations of mosquitoes as much as you do!
Scrutinize your landscape
Having an elaborate landscape enhances your home’s beauty, but it may also be attracting mosquitoes to the areas you enjoy most. Mosquitoes don’t only enjoy standing water—they also like the dense cover from lush foliage. Think about ways you might thin out the vegetation, particularly near entrances and patios.
Check your openings
If it’s been awhile since you’ve inspected your screens, windows, and doors, now is the time to close any openings that may be allowing mosquitoes to enter. Check the weather stripping around doors and replace if loose or torn. Make repairs to screens, and caulk any cracks you find.
The best thing you can do to enjoy the outdoors without the threat of mosquitoes is to enclose your outdoor patio area with screens. Think about allocating your next home upgrade dollars to this project.
A solid temporary and cost-effective solution is large-scale mosquito netting. This is an easy way to protect yourself out on your patio or near a wading pool or hot tub. The net is even more effective when it is sprayed with repellant.
According to the CDC, the best net for keeping mosquitoes out has 156 holes or more per square inch.
Trust the Pros for Your Mosquito Control
If you’ve dealt with serious mosquito problems in your landscape or pool area, you understand how hard it can be to bet these bugs on your own. For mosquito control, it’s best to rely on experts, like our team at ABC Home & Commercial. Our experts can assess the unique needs of your family and your property, so you won’t overspend or waste your time with ineffective products. Since mosquito-borne illnesses have the potential to cause life-threatening problems, it’s worth considering how to take stronger measures to prevent mosquitoes from entering your property. We can advise you on safe, healthy solutions for your home and landscape.