Pests that bite and annoy

Mosquitoes (Latin Culicadae) belong to the same groups as the flies. The word mosquito comes from Spanish language which means “little fly“.  They even look like flies, with a single pair of wings and long, thin legs. Mosquito body and wings are covered with little scales. An adult size mosquito ranges in size from 3 to 9 mm.

mosquito control

mosquito pest

Female mosquitoes are ectoparasites and they use their mouth tube, that is called proboscis, to make a hole in the host’s skin through which they drain blood. It helps them to produce their eggs.

Mosquitoes that are still in their immature stages are living in standing water. The larvae can feed on all kinds of materials, but mostly they eat small aquatic organisms and organic flotsam. Some species will even eat other mosquitoes. Adults are most active from dusk until dawn but they can also work in dark shady places and on cloudy weather. They don’t like sun because it causes them to dry and kill them.

Mosquitoes feed on the blood of various kinds of hosts, specially mammals, birds and amphibians. They usually attack vertebrates, but some mosquitoes also attack invertebrates, mainly arthropods. Loss of blood rarely causes some bigger problems to their victims but the saliva of the mosquitoes often irritates the skin and results in an unpleasant feeling. They also spread various diseases which is much bigger problem than some scratched skin.

Mosquitoes are able to carry disease from host to host by taking out their blood and that makes them one of the deadliest animals in the world. They can transmit serious diseases such as malaria, west Nile virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, and other arboviruses.

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Reproduction cycle

Male mosquitoes have feathery antennae on top of their head which they use to locate females. After mating, females usually search for a blood meal to help them in egg production. Eggs are laid in standing pools of water. Some species can produce over 100 eggs at a time. Larvae feed until they are ready to advance into pupae stage. Adults emerge from pupae onto the water surface where their exoskeleton gets harder and stronger over time. (Related: Pest control during warm weather.)

Difference between genders

Most of the differences are visible only under magnifying glass or microscope but some can be seen without any tools. Male and female differences include:

  • Males feed off plant nectar and other sugars but females use blood.

  • Females have proboscis that extend out from the mouth area and males have bushy ones

  • Males antennas are very feathery and large but female’s antennas are smoother and less feathery

  • Male mosquitoes are much smaller and live shorter than females.

Australian mosquitoes

Many mosquito species are present in Australia, but only a small number of them are pests or are dangerous to human health. Most potential species to cause health problems are:

australian mosquito

Australian mosquito

  1. Anophelus farauti ”“ mosquitoes with a long and thin medium-sized body which can be often found in northern Australia. They work at night and their biting peak is in the first two hours after sunset. This type is usually found near water habitats and can carry diseases such as malaria.

  2. Aedes aegypti ”“ their body is a small to medium-sized and they mainly live near water-holding containers in urban environments, like rainwater tanks, roof guttering, pot plant bases and in water-holding plants. They mostly bite humans during the day in shaded or indoor locations, and they are the only Australian mainland species that can carry dengue viruses. This species is distributed all over Australia, but right now they are restricted in north and west Queensland.

  3. Aedes notoscriptus ”“ mosquitoes with a small to medium-sized body and with banded legs. They have a silver to golden pattern. They usually bite during the afternoon and around twilight. This kind is one of the most common pest species in urban areas and can cause serious troubles as a pest. These mosquitoes transmit arboviruses, like dog heartworm and Ross River virus. Their habitat is mostly in water-holding containers around houses and other man-made structures.

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  1. Aedes procax ”“ brownish mosquitoes with a small to medium-sized bodies with banded legs. They usually live around freshwater and mildly brackish ground pools. They are known for transmitting arboviruses in coastal New South Wales and Queensland.

  2. Aedes vigilax ”“ a medium-sized mosquito with dark body and banded legs. They bite during the day in shaded areas, but they are also active in the mornings, evenings and the early nights. They are found in coastal estuarine wetlands and their population rises because of high tides and rainy warm weather. They are also known for transmitting arboviruses.

  3. Aedes camptoryhnchus ”“ a large mosquito that lives in salty and brackish wetlands in southern cost of New South Wales, around Murray River in Victoria, coasts of South Australia and south-west Western Australia.  They bite during the day in shaded areas, but they are also active during the morning, evening and early night. They transmit arboviruses.

  1. Coquillettidia linealis ”“ a dark medium-sized mosquito with gold scales on top of the chest. They are usually located near freshwater wetlands that have many semi-aquatic plants.

  2. Mansonia uniformis ”“ a brown mosquito with medium-sized body. It bites during the day in shaded locations. They don’t transmit arboviruses.

  3. Culex annulirostris ”“ they are medium-sized and they mostly bite in the first two hours after sunset. This type can be found in coastal regions and in inland Australia and are known as a large transmitter of arboviruses.

  4. Culex quinquefasciatus ”“ a medium-sized mosquito with a light brown colour. This type of mosquito is usually attacking indoors by night. They can be found near wastewater holdings and water storage areas.


Protection from mosquitoes

Mosquito bites can be prevented in a number of different ways. The protection strategies involve using mosquito repellents or changing our behaviour. These strategies can also be used against other biting anthropoids. Here are some best practices in protecting yourself from mosquitoes:

mosquito in Australia

Australian mosquitoes

  1.  Avoiding their habitats ”“ mosquitoes are mostly active around dawn and dusk.

  2. Bed nets and clothing ”“ they provide physical barrier between people and mosquitoes. Bed nets are made of material with a web small enough to prevent mosquitoes getting in. Long sleeved shirts and long pants will protect during outdoors activities.

  3. Mosquito repellents ”“ many insect repellents like creams, lotions and gels are available in a wide range of formulations. Some products like coils, sticks and same burner devices can also be of help because they are impregnated with an insecticide that is released when heated or by burning.

  4. Building design ”“ to prevent mosquitoes entering the buildings put mesh screens on all doors and windows. A big offer of screening options for doors, windows and outdoor areas are available to buy. Air conditioning ducts, ventilation structures and other entry points between indoor and outdoor areas should also be closed.

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