University of Vermont

Healthy Farms - Healthy Agriculture

Mosquitoes llama photo by Krista Cheney, link to home page

Wildlife Biosecurity—
Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes can transmit diseases to you and your animals. These annoying, biting insects can carry diseases such as West Nile and other encephalitis viruses that can affect humans and horses and can carry heartworm of dogs. One of the best ways to minimize the risk of these diseases on your farm is to control the number of mosquitoes. Destroying their habitats and breeding grounds will reduce their numbers.

mosquito photo courtesy ARS Image GalleryPhoto: ARS Image Gallery

Most mosquitoes lay their eggs on the surface of shallow water. Eggs take about 48 hours to hatch, and then the larvae (the immature stage of the mosquito) live in the water for about a day, eating organic material and breathing through a tube that reaches the surface. The larvae then molt into pupae (similar to the cocoon stage of butterflies) where they develop for about two days, still in the shallow water. Finally, the adult emerges and leaves the water. (See Mosquito Life Cycle) Adult females bite a host animal to get a blood meal before breeding. The saliva that transmits diseases during a bite also causes swelling and itchy irritation. Males, on the other hand, feed on nectar and do not bite.

In Vermont, the primary type of mosquito is Culex pipiens, the common house mosquito. There are simple measures that can be taken to reduce their numbers.

  • Prevent standing water as much as possible.
  • Clean out gutters, birdbaths, and troughs regularly.
  • If you have a pond, stock it with fish that eat mosquitoes like goldfish and mosquito fish (Gambusia). Also, damselflies and dragonflies eat mosquitoes.
  • Make your pond with steep sides to minimize shallow water and allow fish to get to the edge to eat the larvae.

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Last modified October 06 2010 09:19 PM

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