There are over 80 different species of mosquito populations known to occur in Florida. Our coastal area and the fact that we are in south Florida rather than northern Florida leaves us more susceptible to these biting pests. Some are just pests and some transmit pathogens that cause disease. There are five that the Florida Department of Health wants everyone to know about as a matter of public health. These are five common species that feed on humans and mosquito bites from these specific species may carry diseases such as eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus, dengue fever, and more.
Mosquito Species in SWFL
This mosquito is a nuisance mosquito that can transmit dog heartworm and Eastern equine encephalitis. It’s is commonly called the “black salt marsh mosquito.”
Aedes taeniorhynchus mosquitoes are small to medium in size, dark brown with white bands around their abdomen, and white stripes on their legs and no markings on their back, unlike some other species.
The Black Salt Marsh Mosquito is considered a major pest in all of coastal Florida. They have the unique habit of showing up in very large numbers all at once in a cloud or “brood” of mosquitoes. They are aggressive biters and feed on whatever is available, but they prefer mammals. These migratory insects breed in salt marshes and mangroves and use the wind to travel up to 40 miles.
This species is commonly known as the “Florida SLE mosquito.” That’s because it is one of the most closely monitored in Florida due to its ability to transmit St. Louis encephalitis. They also transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
Culex nigripalpus is a medium-size brown mosquito with a dark proboscis and very few if any other coloring differences. They often appear to have a bronze or metallic blue-green reflection because dark brown or black scales cover the abdomen and legs.
This mosquito is most usually found during the wet summer months and females like to lay their eggs in freshly flooded ditches. The amount of rainfall will dictate their numbers. The females get blood meals from anything from tree frogs to humans.
The Anopheles mosquito is known globally as the malaria mosquito species because it is considered the primary vector of the disease. It is also a transmitter of dog heartworm.
The body of the adult Anopheles mosquito ranges from dark brown to black. Most other mosquitoes’ stomach area rests even with its surroundings, but the stomach area of the Anopheles mosquito species points upward when resting.
Anopheles prefer to hang out in the lower ends of thick plants and especially tall grasses. They are active during the evening and night hours. These mosquitoes don’t like the hot, dry sun and prefer the higher humidity at night. They are referred to as “ankle” biters because of their low-flying preference.
The female Anopheles mosquito will mate several times in her short life span, producing eggs after she has found a blood meal. She will have been able to produce thousands of eggs during her short lifespan of only a few weeks to a month.
The Mansonia species doesn’t pose a threat to humans but is able to transmit heartworm to dogs.
They are often described as having a “salt-and-pepper” appearance. They are largely black or brown insects with sparkling wings and legs, and their abdomens are very broad.
The Mansonia’s larvae are able to attach to aquatic plants below the water surface, piercing the stalk to obtain oxygen. Other mosquito larvae typically “breathe” at the water surface. In Southwest Florida, the Mansonia prefer plants like water hyacinth and water lettuce.
Commonly referred to as the “southern house mosquito,” this species is known to contribute to the spreading of the West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis.
Culex quinquefasciatus is a light brown mosquito with faint white bands on its proboscis and abdomen.
Both male and female Culex feed on nectar and plant fluids. When the female mosquito is ready to lay eggs, she then feeds on the blood of both birds and mammals from dusk to dawn. They prefer lying in wait for their hosts in the thick leafy areas of trees where birds nest and roost and are most active at night. They can also be found in tree holes and animal dens.
Aedes Aegypti & Aedes Albopictus
The Aedes aegypti is commonly known as the Yellow Fever mosquito. Its cousin, Aedes albopictus, is known as the Asian tiger mosquito. Both are known to spread a number of diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, zika virus, and chikungunya. These mosquitos are very dangerous to humans.
Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are visually easy to identify because they have black and white stripe markings on their bodies and legs, with a white stripe down the middle of their thorax. Aedes aegypti resembles its cousin in most aspects, except it has a lyre-shaped mark on its thorax.
Females blood-feed primarily on humans in order to produce eggs. An infected female Aedes acquires a virus by feeding on the blood of an infected person, then passes the virus to other humans through her bite. Both species are active during the day in shaded areas and into the early evening, but they will sometimes bite after dark.
Controlling mosquitos around your home
Mosquitoes go through a process, or life cycle, of Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult. Three of those stages are spent in standing water. Southwest Florida uniquely speeds up mosquitoes’ life cycle to 5-7 because of it’s tropical temperatures and plethora of standing water. If you want to stand a chance of keeping the number of mosquitoes around your home low, you’ll have to be proactive.
Eliminate or at least limit standing water
Standing water around your home is an open invitation for mosquito breeding. If you have a pool outside of a screened-in lanai, a pool cover may be a good option. If you have pet water bowls outside, consider moving them indoors if possible. If you can’t do that, you may be able to switch to an automatic water dispenser with a spout instead of a bowl.
It’s also important to be mindful of kids toys laying around the yard. They tend to hold water and provide dark, damp areas that will be attractive breeding grounds for different mosquito species. Items left laying out after a rain will provide prolong moist soil which is also attractive to the common mosquito. Also check bird baths, buckets, grill covers, tarps, trash can lids, the damp soil of flower pots. Every bit of standing water eliminated will be beneficial to the comfort of the outside of your home.
Add mosquito repelling plants to your landscaping
There are many plants that are natural repellents for mosquitos and other insects. Incorporating some of them into your landscaping is an easy way to repel these pests from your yard, back deck, and front porch.
Mosquito repelling plants:
- Bee balm
- American beautyberry
Mosquito Misting System
Mosquitos should be taken seriously in the state of Florida because it’s especially attractive to them and they can carry serious diseases. The good news is, the BuzzOff mosquito misting system will be the overall best option as far as precautionary measures go if you want to ensure the mosquito population doesn’t thrive in your yard. You can have a system that provides a reliable way to control mosquito populations in your yard at all times, rather than working continuously to prevent them. A plus that accompanies the mosquito misting system is that it tends to deter other insects as well. No matter what time of year it is, you can heave your mosquito issues under control!