It’s February, wintertime, and last week I saw a mosquito, in my house! I have no idea where the bugger came from (it didn’t last long), but it got me thinking. I have never seen a mosquito in the winter before now, where are they? The answer: not far away.
It is true that adult mosquitoes that find themselves in the harsh winter elements, specifically freezing temperatures will die, but those that get out of the elements can survive. The majority of male mosquitoes die in the winter months, but the females don’t. Females and their eggs go into a phase of hibernation called diapause.
Let’s cover the mosquito eggs first. Mosquitoes need water to lay eggs and for those eggs to develop. While the eggs can’t advance through the larva and pupa phases of development in cold temperatures and ice, they can be frozen. When the areas they were laid in thaw and are flooded in the spring, development will begin again. Mosquito eggs are hearty and live up to 7 years and still hatch if conditions become conducive again.
Diapause is a form of hibernation that delays development. After laying eggs in the fall months, female mosquitoes find places that are hidden and protected from the elements, which could include drains, hollow logs, sheds, attics and basements. During diapause, they’ll live off of fat reserves they build up much like bears do. As temperatures rise, the females will once again become active and look to lay eggs in standing water. Those that find their way into the home for diapause can become confused and wake when temperatures in the home make subtle changes. This is most likely what happened with the mosquito that I saw.
The best way to protect yourself and your yard from mosquitoes in the spring is to stop the eggs that have already been laid (and those in future) from reaching maturity. To do that, you have to get rid of the standing water on your property. At Mosquito Squad, we teach the 5Ts of mosquito control. They are simple, easy to remember and we’ve taken it once step further and created the video below to help homeowners remember how to fight the bite!