Mosquitoes have been an issue in Georgia since the arrival of the English settlers. The state annually spends approximately $125,000,000 to reduce the threat of disease and nuisance caused by mosquitoes. Currently there are 63 known species of mosquitoes in Georgia.
Biology of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are small insects ranging from 1/8 to 3/8 inch long with two wings, body and legs covered with scales. Most mosquitoes are gray or black, while some are marked with white, silver, green or iridescent blue scales. They have a proboscis/beak with piercing-sucking mouthparts. Male mosquitoes typically feed on the flower nectar and other sugars in the environment. Females also feed on nectar and other sugars, but they require blood prior to laying eggs. The protein in the blood is needed for egg development. The flight range for adult mosquitoes can vary from a few hundred feet to over one hundred miles with favorable winds.
When and where are mosquitoes found?
Mosquito season in Georgia can start as early as March and go nearly the rest of the year if temperatures are warm. June through September are prime months in most areas. Most mosquito bites take place in the hours between dusk and dawn, however; there are some species that are active during the day.
Mosquitoes are mostly found in areas used for breeding and resting. Since mosquitoes breed in water any area of standing or stagnant water is essential for egg, larval, and pupil stage development. The best way to prevent mosquitoes is to remove or dispose of containers that retain water. Mosquito resting sites include shaded and damp locations such as thick foliage, under decks, patios, mulch, and high grassy areas.
What are the health risks and symptoms from mosquito bites in humans and animals?
Mosquitoes are one of North America’s most dangerous pests. Some species carry and transmit West Nile and other viruses that cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. It is estimated that 1 in 150 persons infested with the West Nile virus will develop a severe form of the disease. Dengue is a viral disease, commonly called “break bone fever.” Eastern Equine encephalitis (EEE) is very similar to the West Nile virus, however; it more severe with a human-case fatality rate of over 50%. Lacrosse encephalitis virus symptoms range from mild and transient aseptic meningitis to severe encephalitis and death.
Mosquitoes are also a major health issue for dogs, cats, and livestock. Heart worms are a serious disease for all breeds of dogs. Horses are also at a health risk of being infected with Eastern Equine encephalitis.
What mosquito species in Georgia cause the most problems?
The number one mosquito that causes the most problems is the Asian tiger mosquito. The other most common is the Southern house mosquito. In the coastal areas of Georgia there are two other species, the Black salt marsh mosquito and the tan salt marsh mosquito.