Summer is coming to a close and you can say b’bye to mosquitoes. Right?
Washington is home to more than 40 different species of mosquitoes (with more than 200 types in all the US and more than 2,500 worldwide, except Antartica), so where do all those mosquitoes go in the winter? Like all insects, mosquitoes are cold-blooded creatures, so their temperature is essentially the same as their surroundings. That’s why they function best in the summertime when the temps are at least 80 degrees F. Come fall and winter, most species of mosquitoes become inactive and hibernate to live through the colder months. And most are entering a stage in their lifecycle that allows them to breed before they die. But not before they deposit eggs in standing water , even as little as a half-inch of liquid, then lie in wait until the temps pick back up in the spring. That’s when they start looking for a food source – you!
Mosquito bites are annoying and itchy, but it’s the variety of diseases they can carry that will really cause a sting. They can spread West Nile Virus, Zika Virus, Western Equine Encephalitis and St. Louis Encephalitis, to name a few. Diseases carried by mosquitoes kill more people than any other living species on Earth. According to Gates Notes, more than 700,000 people worldwide die in any given year as a result of the diseases these bugs carry.
Even during the winter months, it’s still important to stay vigilant outdoors when it comes to mosquito protection. One of the best strategies is to avoid unknowingly giving mosquitoes a home:
- Inspect your property now for any items in your yard that could hold water and contain mosquito eggs – flower pots, birdbaths, grill covers, play equipment, trashcan lids, or any other objects where water collects.
- Unclog gutters, repair leaky pipes or faucets outside your home, and generally provide drainage in items that could hold standing water.
- Apply insect repellent when outside, using those that contain at least 20 percent DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus. (Always follow instructions on the product.)
Your pets also need mosquito protection, as these bloodsuckers also pose a threat to dogs, cats, ferrets and horses. Heartworm is the most serious form of infection and can cause grave damage or even death to your canine. If your pets spend a lot of time outdoors, be sure to change their feeding and water bowls frequently, and never use DEET on animals as it is dangerous to pets.
You may not be thinking about mosquitoes in the winter, but it’s the best time to take action against them. Get protection from a trained professional for the safest, most effective treatment.