Just because warm weather is behind us doesn’t mean the discomfort and risk associated with mosquitoes has followed suit. When the temperatures in the Charleston area turn chilly, we often get the question: What happens to the mosquitoes in cold weather? The answer is more complex than you may think…
Mosquitoes are cold-blooded creatures and generally don’t bite at temperatures below 50F. However, certain species of mosquitoes will emerge to feed on warm winter days or during periods known as Indian Summers. The National Weather Service defines this as a period of weather conditions that are sunny and clear with above normal temperatures, usually occurring from late-September to mid-November. Here in the Greater Charleston area, winter temperatures can exceed 50 degrees for extended periods of time due to our mild climate. The same attributes that make our area such a draw for residents and tourists also makes the perfect catalyst for mosquito survival.
The Over Wintering Mosquito
Mosquitoes, much like bears, have a way to make it through the winter. They don’t sleep or hibernate, the female mosquito goes into a state called diapause. They have a structure called the fat body, which is much like the human liver. Females that go into diapause may accumulate ten times the fat of a nondiapausing mosquito. The energy from this fat body is a critical factor to help the female reach a frozen state and stay in that state until she can safely thaw in the spring.
- A diapausing mosquito can survive any long cold winter, no such luck for the male mosquito.
- While diapausing mosquitoes survived the ice age, no such luck for the bear.
— Asian Tiger Mosquito eggs
While some mosquitoes become inactive with the onset of weather and enter into diapause (as detailed above) before the first frost, other mosquitoes die in the fall but have winter-hardy eggs, which lie on the ground like seeds waiting to sprout. The eggs await the “perfect” conditions to hatch and produce a new generation. Some of these eggs can actually survive for up to five years before hatching.
Mosquitoes Survived the Ice Age
The oldest known mosquito with an anatomy similar
to the modern species we deal with today was found preserved in 79-million-year-old Canadian amber from the Cretaceous period. In addition, an even older sister species with more primitive features was found in Burmese amber that is 90 to 100 million years old. Two mosquito fossils have also been found that show very little morphological difference from modern mosquitoes against their counterpart from 46 million years ago.
Our Early Ancestors Attempts at Mosquito Control
Scientists have discovered evidence of bedding that was constructed from plant stems and leaves which contained a natural plant-derived insecticide. This bedding would have served as much for mosquito control as for comfort at the time. The bedding was discovered in a rock shelter in Sibudu South Africa and is believed to be left by our early ancestors who slept in the shelter from 38,000 to 77,000 years ago. The use of these plants and leaves prove that the cavemen had knowledge of the specific insecticidal and medicinal uses of the plants within the world around them. Analysis of the bedding also concluded it was refurbished with the insecticidal plants and leaves on more than one occasion proving again, that the inhabitants of the Sibudu site were well aware of the properties and attributes of the plants and leaves they were choosing to “feather their beds” with at the time. Researchers also learned from an excavation of the site that the cavemen burned their used bedding in a way to possibly further mosquito control efforts within their living space and to maintain an insect free space.
Researchers are now looking for a method to reduce the population of mosquitoes by preventing diapause or causing them to exit diapause prematurely, but for now, your best shot at reducing the population of mosquitoes at your Charleston or Bluffton home is to alert the squad so that we can set up a full season of Mosquito Control for Charleston and West Ashley SC.
Our service helps to reduce the mosquito population, by up to 90%. Our trained applicators visit your property every 3 weeks. They will perform a site survey, identifying areas to be treated, including the foliage, natural areas, and other areas where we know mosquitoes like to feed and harbor. We treat for adult mosquitos as well as focusing on larval control. Whether you looking for a traditional barrier treatment or an all-natural approach, we offer options to best meet your outdoor family needs.
Call us today at (843) 574-8919 today or email us
Owner Brent Tatum and family