Did you ever wonder where mosquitoes go in winter? Unlike birds, they don’t fly south! In fact, mosquitoes, like all insects, are cold-blooded creatures. As a result, they are incapable of regulating body heat and their temperature is dependent upon their surroundings. Mosquitoes are known to function best at 80o F, become lethargic at 60o F and cannot function below 50o F. Not all mosquitoes die from the cold and over-winter in various guises:
- Some species of mosquitoes overwinter as adult females in a state of diapause (a hibernation-like state of arrested development), hiding out in barns, tree holes, basements, attics, etc. anywhere they can get out of the wind.
Typically, the female mosquito mates before the onset of winter, refusing to take a blood meal, instead feeding only on sugar. Their ovaries stop working, so their eggs will not mature. And they store plenty of fat to sustain them over winter. In spring when the temperatures rise, the female emerges from hibernation, seeks out a blood meal and lays the eggs that produce the next generation of adults.
- Certain mosquito species lay winter hardy eggs able to survive extreme weather, such as cold, ice, and drought. Typically in late summer or fall, the female lays her eggs in areas where the ground is moist. In spring, when temperatures begin to rise and moisture is produced by spring rains and melting snow and ice, these eggs will hatch, progressing through larval, pupal, and finally adult stages to begin the cycle all over again.
- And other species of mosquitoes can survive winter in the larval stage. All mosquito larvae require water, even in winter. As the water temperature drops, it induces a state of diapause in the mosquito larvae. Development only resumes when the water warms up again.
Winter Mosquito Control
Winter is a great time to institute some DIY home mosquito control. We all know mosquitoes need still, stagnant water to breed. It doesn’t take much, an inch or two that has collected in a child’s toy, a flowerpot, an old tire. So by draining containers around the home you can disrupt this process and reduce or eliminate mosquitoes and the potential for disease transmission. Mosquito control agencies have their winter programs too. They clean out ditches and streams, allowing the water to flow, which discourages and eliminates mosquitoes breeding in areas for extended periods of time without the use of pesticides.
Winterize Your Mosquito Trap
In the warm and humid climates of the Southeast and Gulf Coast, mosquitoes can thrive all year round, making ongoing precautions essential. The Mosquito Activity Forecast from weather.com is a useful tool, as it predicts just how active mosquitoes in your area are, based on a variety of weather and time-related factors.
However, once temperatures in your area begin averaging below 50°F it’s safe to store your Mega-Catch™ trap away for the winter.
- Turn off your Mega-Catch™ Trap and disconnect the power cable
- Turn off and disconnect the regulator from the C02 cylinder. (Ultra) To ensure that insects don’t nest in your C02 system during the off-season place the regulator in a sealed bag, and place some electrical tape or similar over the end of the gas line (attached to the rear of the trap)
- Remove the skirt (Ultra & Premier) and wipe down the outside of the trap with clean soapy water and a damp cloth.
- Open your trap (Ultra & Premier) and again, using warm soapy water, clean the internal plates, heated reflective surface and fan, then allow to dry thoroughly. (step by step guide in the Operation manual or download from http://www.megacatch.com/manuals.html)
- Using a small sponge or toothbrush and warm soapy water, reach into the trap (Alpha) and carefully clean the inside casing of the fan and fan blades
- Remove and discard any opened attractant lures – they’re only effective for 30 days
- Remove and clean the mesh catch bag – pollen, dust and dirt can prohibit airflow and prevent your trap from working efficiently. If the catch bag is torn or damaged in any way, remove and discard. Start next season with a fresh mesh bag
- To extend the life of your trap, store it in a garage or shed, protected from the elements and extreme cold
- Mid-way through winter, turn on your trap and let it run for a day. This will keep the timer battery charged (Ultra & Premier) and the fan moving (Alpha, Ultra & Premier)
With a little bit of maintenance now, you can ensure a trouble-free start next spring, with a trap in peak condition, primed for any mosquito mayhem. Because mosquitoes that were infected with say West Nile Virus before they went into ‘hibernation’ will still have the virus when they emerge – all loaded up and ready to go!