What should we know about mosquitoes?

bThe life cycle of mosquitoes comprises the egg, the larva, the nymph (pupa) and the adult. Apart from the last stage, the adult (the well – known annoying insect that bites us), all the others are aquatic.

The duration of the biological cycle of mosquitoes depends mainly on temperature. The lifespan of adult mosquitoes can be usually affected by several factors such as temperature, humidity or the presence of natural enemies. In temperate regions adult mosquitoes live a few weeks or a few months. Apart from the nuisance that they cause mosquitoes are vectors of serious diseases such as malaria, dengue hemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, Chikungunya and West Nile virus.

The state is responsible for the implementation of mosquito control measures. These measures should focus on the integrated vector management (IVM) and aim to prevent public health problems, overspending or potential inefficiency of mosquito control programs.

When control programs fail, citizens are called to protect themselves against mosquitoes. The most important measure that citizens can take against mosquitoes is the elimination of mosquito breeding sites outdoors.

What places could possibly stand for mosquito breeding sites?

The knowledge of the “habits” of mosquitoes will help us kill the aquatic stages of mosquitoes before the emergence of adults.

Finally, potential mosquito breeding sites beyond our house and garden should be eliminated, when feasible, since mosquitoes can easily trespass our property and pay visit to us.

Potential mosquito breeding sites inside our property or in the surrounding area

1. The water used in fountains, large vases or other similar decorative structures should be replaced at least once a week. Flower pot saucers should be also emptied at regular intervals.

2. Manhole cover grilles can be clogged with fallen leaves, grass clippings or garbage inhibiting the water flow end up into the sewerage system.

3. Small or large puddles on the grass and other parts of the garden, that can hold water, should be overfilled with soil or drain well.

4. Gutters and downspouts should be maintained clean since they can be easily clogged with leaves or twigs and collect rainwater.

5. Dripping faucets, automatic watering systems or other plumbing leaks can easily create small water pools and serve as mosquito breeding sites.

6. Artificial ponds and any natural or artificial cavities filled with stagnant water can be ideal mosquito breeding sites.

7. Open or broken windows, skylights and vents can be used by mosquitoes for entering houses; therefore, it is necessary to place window screens in these openings.

8. Swimming pools should be emptied when not in use as well as their coverings that can collect rainwater.

9. Children’s toys (buckets, plastic swimming pools, etc) that are usually abandoned in the backyard should be stored in places so as not to collect rainwater.

10. Mosquitoes often choose to lay their eggs in containers, barrels, car tires or even in small cans that are usually abandoned in the backyard. For this reason these objects should be either removed or covered so as not to collect rainwater.

Editing: Dr Antonios Michaelakis/Dr Evangelos Badieritakis