Within Australia, there are more than 300 species of Mosquito, though only a small number are responsible for the spread of disease, Dengue Fever, Australian Encephalitis (Murray River Encephalitis), Ross River Virus and Barmah Forest Virus Disease being the main ones. These diseases are at present only in certain areas. Malaria has only been transmitted rarely in Australia during recent decades.
Habits of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes belong to a family of flies which possess 6 delicate legs, 2 wings covered in scales and a probiscus on the front of its head which sheaths a long piercing and sucking mouth part. Both male and female adults will feed on nectar and plant fluids, but the female requires blood in order for her eggs to develop. It is only the female who bites, injecting saliva into the wound at the same time as she sucks the blood out. It is the transfer of this saliva that allows viruses to be injected into the blood. Once she has had her fill, she will find a resting place to digest her meal before flying off to deposit her eggs in a suitable breeding habitat. Mosquitoes are attracted to a host by a combination of stimuli which include carbon dioxide, body odours, air movement or heat.
Once the larva hatch, they feed continuously and moult four times as they grow. Temperatures, food and other prevailing conditions determine the development of the larva (wrigglers), but this generally takes about 2 weeks. The final stage is when the larvae develops into a pupa (a comma shaped tumbler). Approximately 2 days from this point, the adult mosquito emerges to begin a new cycle.
Most female mosquitoes live for 2 to 3 weeks, while the male lifespan is shorter. Mosquitoes vary in the breeding habits and biting behaviour. Some disperse only a few metres from their original breeding place, others travel less than 2 kilometres, while there are some who will fly 5 to 10 kilometres downwind from the larval habitats.
Whilst only a few mosquitoes spread disease in Australia, many people are allergic, or sensitive to the saliva injected by the mosquitoes. The symptoms of this sensitivity include redness, swelling, irritation at the puncture site. Because of the itchiness caused by the saliva, bites can be scratched and the surface skin traumatised, which allows bacteria and a secondary infection to occur. This is especially so on the lower limbs. Mosquito borne disease is only able to be diagnosed by testing the blood.
How can I avoid Mosquito bites?
Mosquitoes are a nuisance pest and bite more frequently around dusk. Avoid being outside during this time, or wear clothing and shoes that cover your arms, legs and feet. Light-coloured clothing will also deter mosquitoes. Appropriate use of personal mosquito repellent is advised when outdoors. Empty and remove all breeding sites, including dead palm fronds and containers. Clean gutters and put fine mesh over the entry to rainwater tanks. Ensure fly screens are in good order. Sleeping under nets is advisable where mosquitoes are a problem. Insecticide sprays, coils and electric mats can help.
Can I rid my home of Mosquitoes?
There are various types of control for mosquitoes which include larvicides to kill the larva, or where disease is prevalent, fogging to kill the adults who may be carrying disease. Recently developed chemicals allow a qualified pest consultant to spray around your home, both inside and out, with a water-based chemical that will effectively destroy 90% of mosquitoes for a period of 6 weeks. Contact us for further information.