Your new house has a problem. You knew this before you bought it. The place is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. Lots of open space. A lush yard. A patio that has a top-of-the-line grill. A bar. It’s what the patio doesn’t have that is the problem: screens.
Unlike many Florida patios, the previous owner decided not to enclose the space which means bugs, which also means bug bites. More specifically, mosquito bites.
What You Need To Know About The Different Types of Mosquitoes in Florida
You thought that this would be a minor problem, that you could just avoid the busiest mosquito times and enclose the space when you had enough money. Except that there doesn’t seem to be a time when mosquitoes aren’t around. And you can no longer tell where the bug bites end and your skin begins.
Is there anything you can do to protect yourself from mosquitoes? Absolutely. It starts with learning about what you’re up against. Unfortunately, that’s kind of a tall order.
How Many Species of Mosquitoes Are in Florida?
Have you ever wondered exactly how many mosquito species live in Florida? You might be surprised to hear the total tally: eighty. This means that Florida has more mosquito species than any other state in the country. Thanks, Sunshine State!
Of course, not all of those species bother people or pets, but that number is only a slightly more manageable: 33. Luckily, we can narrow it down even further. Of those 33, only 13 can make people sick.
So, let stick to those mosquito species, the worst of the worst.
The Aedes aegypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, transmits its namesake disease, as well as dengue and the Zika and Chikungunya viruses. These mosquitoes feed during the day and are located statewide.
The Aedes albopictus is sometimes known as an Asian tiger mosquito. This species also can transmit dengue and the Zika and Chikungunya viruses. Common hosts include people, dogs, rabbits and other mammals. These mosquitoes also feed during the day and, like Aedes aegypti, can be found throughout Florida.
The Aedes triseriatus can spread LaCrosse encephalitis, although mostly in the Midwest. This species feeds in the evening and early morning, but also all day long. This type of mosquito is also found across the state of Florida.
The Anopheles albumaus is a tree-hole breeding mosquito invasive in the United States and which can transmit malaria. Unfortunately, people are the most common host for this type of mosquito. These mosquitoes feed at night and are located in southern Florida, specifically in Dade, Lee, Collier, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties.
This type of mosquito can also be a vector for malaria and also breeds in tree holes. Like Anopheles albimanus, people are the most common host for Anopheles barberi. These mosquitoes feed at night, and are mostly found throughout northern Florida, but also in a few southern counties, specifically, Palm Beach, Escambia, Hendry, Leon, Putnam, Duval, Alachua, Bay, Flagler and Jackson.
If you get bitten by an Anopheles crucians, you could contract malaria. This species of mosquito feeds on both people and mammals, and can bite both day and night. Anopheles crucians are found across the state of Florida.
Although the Anopheles grabhamii can spread malaria, this species of mosquito is unlikely to cause many problems in the United States. People are the most common host, and this species is located in the Florida Keys, but is relatively new and not yet established enough to have a distinct feeding time.
The Anopheles punctipennis can help spread both malaria and dog heartworm. This species feeds primarily on people and animals and feeds at night. Although this mosquito is very widespread, it is not currently found across Florida.
The Anopheles quadrimaculatus is another species which can transmit malaria. People and livestock are the most common hosts. These mosquitoes feed at dusk and nighttime. Like the Anopheles punctipennis, this species is not quite statewide, but very widespread.
This type of mosquito can also be a vector for malaria. Humans are the most common host and although the Anopheles walkieri is widespread, it is not quite statewide.
The Culex declarator is relatively new to Florida. In Trinidad and Brazil, incidents of the Turlock virus and St. Louis encephalitis have been linked to this type of mosquito. Althoguh it’s unknown how widespread this bug is in Florida, these mosquitoes have been collected from Monroe and Indian River Counties.
The St. Louis and West Nile encephalitis viruses and dog heartworm can be transmitted by the Culex nigripalpus. These mosquitoes commonly feed on people or birds at night, and can be found throughout Florida.
The Culex quinquefasciatus, otherwise known as the southern house mosquito, can spread Wuchereria bancrofti and St. Louis and western equine encephalitis. Although this mosquito species commonly feeds on birds, they will also use people as hosts. These mosquitoes are found statewide and feed at night.
True to its common name, the Western Encephalitis Mosquito is the primary vector for this inflamation of the brain, as well as California and St. Louis encephalitis. This type of species commonly feeds on birds and is located in northwestern and western coastal Florida
If you own pets or livestock, it’s also important to know that there are another 13 mosquito species that can transfer diseases to dogs, horses and others. These mosquitoes can spread illnesses such as dog heartworm and Eastern equine encephalitis, in particular.
How to Keep Safe Around Florida Mosquitoes
Even beyond specific diseases, mosquito bites are not particularly pleasant. Pretty much everyone who gets bitten will feel itchy, and scratching mosquito bites does make them worse. But some people itch more than others, and the sensation can be truly frustrating.
As you can see from a quick glance at the feeding times and locations listed above, there’s really not a “safe” time when you can completely avoid mosquitoes. Half feed during the day and the others find prey at night. In most areas, there are multiple species of mosquito present, so if you keep away from one, you’re almost guaranteed to run into another–unless you just don’t go out at all.
So, what can you do to protect your home, your yard and yourself from mosquitoes?
Know the season
While the mosquitoes in Florida never really completely go away, they are certainly more active during the actual “Florida mosquito season” here. Unfortunately, due to our warm weather, that season tends to be fairly lengthy.
In Southern Florida, mosquito season can begin as early as February and continue through most of the year. In Northern Florida, mosquito season usually starts in March and follows a similar pattern.
The basic rule of thumb to know is that the warmer it is, the more active mosquitoes are likely to be.
Avoid dusk and dawn
While there’s no time of day to completely avoid all mosquitoes, just like with “mosquito season,” there are definitely times when they are more active, namely dusk and dawn.
If you really like watching the sun rise (or set), try to find a good window vantage point instead of venturing inside, unless you are fine with getting bitten.
Get rid of standing water
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard this one before, but it bears repeating. Mosquitoes are attracted to standing pools of water because eggs need water to hatch. Keep your house and yard free of all standing water in flowerpots, buckets and other containers, and if possible, look nearby in your neighborhood and get rid of additional standing water as well.
Thin your plants
Lush, verdant plant life can be beautiful, but it’s also a mosquito magnet. Besides water, mosquitoes love resting in dense vegetation that can keep them warm and moist.
Come up with landscaping solutions that look beautiful without turning your yard into a jungle.
Take the time to close up any cracks, holes or gaps (especially near windows and doors) that may be letting mosquitoes into your house. This may mean using caulk, weather stripping or another kind of sealant, or it may mean inspecting and patching screens.
If you have an outdoor patio area, the best thing you can do is enclose it. Yes, this is costly, but it’s the best way to protect yourself from mosquitoes and enjoy your patio. Additionally, “seal” yourself by wearing long sleeves and pants and tucking pant legs into socks. If there’s no accessible place for mosquitoes to bite, the mosquitoes will move on.
Enlist the help of natural predators
Frogs, birds, dragonflies and certain kinds of fish all eat mosquitoes. If you’ve already got a little pond in your yard, fill it with fish so you’ll have something to help with the mosquitoes and get the added bonus of a nice water feature in your backyard. Attract birds by putting up a bird feeder or introduce beneficial bugs into your garden to help keep mosquitoes away.
Naturally, you’re not going to get every mosquito by surrounding yourself with predators, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Use mosquito nets
Can’t quite cover the cost of an enclosed patio? Mosquito nets can be a decent stop-gap measure–especially if you spray them with repellant.
The CDC says that you should use a net that is sturdy and contains 156 holes per square inch at a minimum.
Learn about traps
Mosquito traps can be divisive, with some people swearing by them and others complaining that they just bring in more mosquitoes. The truth is more complicated.
The issue with traps is that their effectiveness depends on a number of different factors. In our years of helping people with their mosquito problems, we’ve learned firsthand that it matters where they’re placed, which Florida mosquito species you’re dealing with, what your landscape is like, how large the population is, and so on. Because of these complexities, traps are best left to the professionals.
ABC Knows Mosquito Control
If you’re dealing with a serious mosquito issue and have been thinking about using traps or other types of chemical solutions, get in touch with the experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services before making your decision. You set up an appointment so that one of our experienced professionals can come to you to assess the situation and make recommendations based on what they see. With so many risks and potential health issues associated with mosquitoes, you owe it to yourself and your family to take the problem seriously and deal with it in the most timely and effective manner possible.