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Mosquito Control in Long Island (Nassau County), Brooklyn, Queens, NYC, Manhattan, and the Bronx
About Urban Mosquitos
Worldwide, there are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes. The United States has approximately 160 documented species and New York State has about 62 species.
Adult mosquitoes are characterized by having long, slender, needle-like mouthparts (proboscis), antennae, and legs. Their narrow wings are often covered with minute scales, and are characteristically folded over their abdomen at rest. Despite their delicate appearance, mosquitoes are notorious pests of humans and other animals. Bites from mosquitoes can cause severe discomfort and spread deadly diseases.
Mosquitoes may be a vector and transmit disease-causing organisms. Mosquitoes are capable of transmitting viruses (e.g. dengue, yellow fever), protozoans (e.g. malaria), and filarial nematodes (e.g. dog heartworm), Chikungunya, and Zika. The most important mosquito-borne diseases in the United States are caused by viral pathogens and include West Nile fever, a flu-like diseases but are usually accompanied by inflammation of the brain. Recently, new mosquito-borne viruses, such as dengue fever, have caused local outbreaks in the USA (Florida), after a hiatus of nearly 40 years. Introduction of other exotic mosquito-borne viruses such as Chikungunya and Zika into the USA is now becoming a threat. Other diseases of concern are eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and canine heartworm disease (dogs only). Canine heartworm disease is easily prevented, and eastern equine encephalitis rarely occurs (2) far from the Atlantic coastal regions.
The mosquito most often discovered in urban areas of New York is the northern house mosquito, Culex pipiens . This is also the mosquito that is thought to transmit the most cases of WNV (human cases) in New York and consequently poses the greatest annoyance and risk to our citizens. The Zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti also found throughout southern New York State, including Nassau County of Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan.
Although the risk of contracting serious illness from mosquitoes is low, much can be done to increase protection from mosquito-borne disease. This includes the reduction of breeding sites, use of repellents, repair of home screens and the limitation of outdoor activities to periods of time when mosquitoes are less active.
Adult mosquitoes are slender, small long-legged flies with narrow, hairy wings and extended mouthparts. The eggs, depending on species, are deposited on water or vegetation in water, in tree holes, and at sites that hold a high potential for flooding. Mosquitoes have four distinct developmental stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
Both male and female mosquitoes can feed on sugar sources such as plant nectar and honey dew, but only females feed on blood. Adult female mosquitoes require a blood meal in order to produce viable eggs. While feeding, the females inject saliva-containing anticoagulants that prevent the blood from clotting. Because mosquitoes take numerous blood meals, they can acquire disease organisms from an infected host and later transmit those organisms to previously uninfected hosts. Environmental conditions such as high rainfall and warm temperatures favor mosquito development, increase the level of infection in the reservoir host population, and thereby increase the chance of humans acquiring the disease.
Most eggs will hatch within 2-3 days when environmental conditions are suitable. Immature stages of mosquitoes require water to complete their life cycle. The mosquito larvae are known as wrigglers because they wriggle around in water as a method of locomotion. When undisturbed, the wrigglers lie just below the water surface and breathe through a tube located on their abdominal end.
Mosquito larvae can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including temporary floodwater and snowmelt pools; more permanent water habitats like marshes, swamps, lagoons, and ponds; stagnant waters; and natural and artificial containers. Shallow water is ideal for larval survival because there is less turbulence and wave action. Upper water movement interferes with the surface feeding of some mosquito species, and in most species, it hinders the larvae and pupae from obtaining oxygen at the air-water interface.
Mosquito pupae are active when compared to other insect pupae. Pupae move in a somersault fashion through the water, this is why they are known as tumblers.
Once mosquito emerge as adults, they start to feed on plant nectar and honey dew and mate. As adults most mosquitos rest during the heat of the day in shady areas such under plant leaves. Then the life cycle starts over again.
A word about Zika
Zika virus is spread by the bite of a mosquito that is carrying the virus. Not all types of mosquitos can spread it. Some types of Aedes mosquito can spread Zika virus, particularly Aedes aegypti. Being a daytime biting mosquito, with increased activity around sunrise and sunset, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes often live in and around buildings in urban areas.
Zika virus can also spread through sexual activity (vaginal, oral, or anal) particularly from a man to a woman, but male to male and female to male transmission have also been reported. However, the main way that Zika virus spreads is still by mosquitoes.
People at risk
People living in or visiting countries that are affected by Zika virus are at increased risk of Zika virus infection. Pregnant women and their unborn babies are at particular risk of serious consequences of Zika virus infection. Preventing infection is essential. Please see the CDC website for additional information on Zika.