Mosquitoes: The Basics

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    When the weather warms, mosquitoes arrive looking for a meal. In addition to the irritating, itchy bite, some mosquitoes can spread disease to humans. One mosquito found in the Fairfax County area, Culex pipiens (shown in this photograph), can transmit West Nile virus. This mosquito prefers to feed on birds and keeps the West Nile virus cycle going in nature.

    The Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), is a major nuisance mosquito in Fairfax County. They are very aggressive and tend to lay their eggs in clean water in artificial containers near homes. They can be identified by the striking black and white coloration and their aggressive daytime biting behavior.

    Mosquito facts:
    •There are about 3,000 different kinds of mosquitoes and a worldwide population of 100 trillion.
    •Only female mosquitoes bite. They require a blood meal in order to develop eggs.
    •Most female mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Stagnant ponds, ditches and fresh or salt water wetlands are preferred, but even a few tablespoons of water in a flower pot or old tire will do. Mosquito larvae are an important source of food for certain insects, fish, birds, bats and other animals.
    •When she bites, the mosquito injects a bit of saliva that slows coagulation (clotting) so blood flows freely. It's your body's allergic reaction to the saliva that causes the welt and itching sensation.
    •Most mosquitoes remain within one mile of their breeding site. A few species may range up to 20 miles or more.
    •Depending on temperature, mosquitoes can develop from egg to adult in as little as 4-7 days.

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