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Mosquito Borne Diseases: How to Avoid and Prevent Mosquitoes


Mosquitoes are insects that suck the blood of mammals, including humans, dogs, cats and horses. They are particularly problematic in springtime when there is plenty of stagnant (standing) water for the eggs and larvae to develop in. For us they are mainly a nuisance often causing itchy red bumps at the area where bitten, an allergic reaction to the saliva of the mosquito. However they are known to be transmitters of dangerous diseases such as malaria, heartworms, dengue, West Nile virus and yellow fever, and should be controlled.

Due to the excessive rain this last winter, it is predicted that we will have a particularly high problem with mosquitoes this year. Our awareness of this problem is the key to the control mosquito populations as well as the further spread of disease.

The female mosquito is the one we all know, the one that prey's on our blood. She does this with her long proboscis (mouth) which has piercing and sucking abilities. The males usually feed off of nectar or similar, and do not have the ability to pierce into skin. Although the female also feeds on nectar, due to her necessity to lay eggs, her needs for protein is much higher, she therefore needs blood.

Mosquitoes like other insects go through distinct stages in their life cycle. Mosquitoes go through four stages: Egg, Larvae, Pupa and Adult. The length of development is dependent on species and temperature. Usually they develop within four days to one month.

  • Egg-are laid by the adult female in standing water and float on the surface. They can be laid one at a time, or in groups called "rafts."
  • Larva- lives in the water but go to the surface to breathe. Larvae eat organic matters and microorganisms living in the water. During this stage the larvae will molt four times, growing larger each time, and the last molt changes the larva into pupa.
  • Pupa- also lives in the water. During this stage the pupae are resting and do not eat. This is similar to the butterfly's cocoon stage. However they are mobile, responding to movement and light changes, and for protection they will move towards the bottom.
  • Adult-will emerges from the water after a few days and allows its body to dry and harden before flying off in search of food. The males will search for nectar while the females will find a mammal to feed from.

Viruses carried by antropods (jointed legs) such as mosquitoes or ticks are known as arboviruses. These include malaria, heartworm, dengue, encephalitis, West Nile virus and yellow fever.

  • West Nile virus-is a virus that can affect horses, birds, dogs, cats as well as humans. It usually takes around 10 days to show symptoms, and infected animals usually recover fully. However, horses and birds have higher incidences of death.
  • Heartworm-is a disease that affects dogs, cats, wolves, coyotes and other animals. The parasite is a roundworm that resides in the heart of the host, living there for years. Eventually the host will die of congestive heart failure. Fortunately it takes between 6-7 months after infection for the adult worms to mature and live in the heart, and can usually be prevented or treated before the heartworms have matured.

Mosquito Control is the main way we can control the spread of arboviruses. We can eliminate mosquito breeding locations and reduce our exposure to adult mosquitoes through reduction of exposure, and the use of repellents. Combining as many methods as possible, it increases our control against mosquito population.

Since mosquitoes require stagnant water to reproduce it is important to eliminate all locations with standing water. Even the smallest container can have enough water to sustain a developing population of mosquitoes. Be sure to check and dispose of these.

  • Eliminate plastic "kiddie" pools, buckets, tin cans and other containers that can hold water.
  • Change the water twice a week in bird baths, wading pools, and livestock water.
  • For ornamental ponds, purchase predacious fish like minnows, koi or goldfish. Adding to fountain, waterfall or aerator will discourage mosquito breeding as they prefer stagnant water. Products like Siphotrol Mosquito Larvicide Granules are also available.
  • If there is a ditch or creek by your house, don't try to treat it yourself contact the American Mosquito Control Association for a Mosquito Control District near you at 856-439-9222.

  • Mosquito netting is very helpful in protecting infants when taken outdoors.
  • Make sure all windows that can be opened have screens.
  • Try to remain indoors between dusk and dawn, as these times are when mosquitoes are out biting. Keep your pets indoor as well.
  • Install motion sensor lights, as it does not constantly attract mosquitoes, they tend to be drawn to light just as other insects do during night.
  • Install mosquito traps, there are many available for all sorts of insects.

There are all sorts of repellents out there to use on our pets. Many of these contain permethrins and pyrethrins among other insecticides. Remember to use caution and follow directions for each product, some products contain ingredients that can be toxic to some animals (permethrins are toxic to cats.)

Mosquito Halt
for Horses
Adams Fly Spray
& Repellent
for Horses
Solitude Fly