Mosquitoes and heat go together like ice cream and cones, but not in a good way.
Most mosquitoes, including the kind that can transmit West Nile virus, flourish in hot weather. They can develop from egg to adult in as little as five days. Therefore, checking your yard for standing water as a weekly chore may not be enough during hot weather to ensure no mosquito production on your property.
Not only that, when nighttime temperatures remain above 55 degrees for several days in a row, the virus amplifies–grows–in the mosquito’s salivary glands. The virus becomes more potent.
In essence, hot weather means more mosquitoes and an increased risk of contracting West Nile virus.
Water is the key. All mosquitoes need it to start their lives while they morph through four stages during their life cycle: Egg, Larva, Pupa and Adult.
Mosquitoes begin in an egg. Some mosquitoes lay individual eggs, while others lay eggs that are grouped together in an egg raft that floats upon still water. Eggs can hatch within 48 hours into the larval stage.
Larvae live in the water where they feed on microorganisms. They must remain near the surface of the water to breathe air using air tubes. While the larva develops in the water, it molts (sheds its skin) four times as it grows larger. During the fourth molt, it develops into a pupa.
Pupae are like a butterfly’s chrysalis. At this time in a mosquito’s development, it is protected by a pupal shell. It doesn’t eat; instead, it rests near the surface of the water and can move around in response to light or disturbance. Inside the shell, the young mosquito develops into an adult mosquito.
After another 48 hours or so, the shell breaks and an adult mosquito emerges. The adult mosquito sits on the surface of the water for several hours to dry its wings. Then it flies off and might bite a bird or a human, and possibly transmit a mosquito-borne illness.
While you enjoy the hot days and warm nights of summer, know you’re not alone. Mosquitoes enjoy the warm weather, and sometimes, you, too.
Stay healthy: dump standing water and wear mosquito repellent.