FAQs - Biting Insects

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Find immediate answers to commonly asked questions, such as how long mosquitoes live, do mosquitoes transmit aids, can mosquitoes survive in cold climates and more.



Mosquitoes | Black Flies | Midges | No-See-Ums


Frequently Asked Questions about Mosquitoes

Q: Is it true that only female mosquitoes bite? If so, why don’t male mosquitoes?

A: Female mosquitoes are indeed the biters. They need the blood for their eggs. Human blood contains protein, and the female mosquito needs the protein to develop her eggs.

Q: How long can a mosquito live?

A: Mosquitoes typically live about two weeks, although some adult mosquitoes can survive the winter in a sort of hibernating state which enables them to survive for up to 8 months.

Remember, many of the larvae in ponds are eaten by fish and a large percentage of adult mosquitoes end up as dinner for birds, spiders and dragonflies. Thank goodness these predators are around, or else our mosquito problems would be far worse!

Q: Why does my friend seem to get more mosquito bites than I do?

A: There are several theories about why some people are more apt to be victims of mosquitoes than others, but some of the more popular and plausible ideas revolve around human blood types and odors. It is felt that mosquitoes are attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale, and then after they zoom in on us, they sense the moisture and heat of our bodies, and decide if we fit their preferences for a blood meal.

Q: Aren’t mosquitoes mainly found near ponds and marshes?

A: Although those are prime breeding areas for many mosquitoes, some mosquitoes will breed in stagnant water just about anywhere, including old tires, swimming pools, buckets, trash cans and overturned trash can lids, birdbaths, clogged rainspouts and gutters, ditches, trenches, tire ruts, old flowerpots and even knot-holes in trees.

As you can see, if there is enough space for a small puddle, there is enough space for mosquitoes to breed!

Q: What can I do to keep mosquitoes from breeding around my home?

A: Make sure you do not have any standing water in your yard. Be sure to change the water in birdbaths every week. Dump water from any buckets, trash cans, wading pools, old tires, etc. and situate them so water cannot accumulate in them. Keep your gutters and rainspouts clear so rainwater can run freely down them.

If you live near a pond or marshland and already have quite a few mosquitoes, you may want to use mosquito traps to catch and kill mosquitoes.

It is important to make sure you are not harming beneficial insects in your quest to eliminate your mosquito problem.

Q: Do mosquitoes transmit AIDS?

A: No, mosquitoes do not transmit AIDS.

Q: How many types of mosquitoes are there in the entire world?

A: If by types, you are referring to species, there are estimates that range from 2500 to 2700 species of mosquitoes in the world. Some estimates have been as high as 3000.

Q: Can mosquitoes survive in very cold climates?

A: Yes, just ask anyone living in Alaska! There are places in Alaska where mosquitoes thrive. Mosquitoes that do survive cold winters are either hibernating adults or overwintering eggs.


Frequently Asked Questions about Black Flies

Q: Why are Black Flies attracted to me?

A: Black Flies are attracted by a number of things, including exhaled carbon dioxide, clothing color, body odors, temperature and perspiration.

Q: Do Black Flies die in the cold in winter?

A: No, they can overwinter in the egg, larval or pupal stage. They are fairly hardy in the egg stage and can withstand very cold temperatures.

Q: Do both male and female Black Flies bite?

A: No, just the females bite and she does that to gather blood for the development of the eggs. Both the male and female feed on plant nectar for nourishment.

Q: Are all Black Flies black in color?

A: No, actually, “Black Fly” is misleading, since they are either gray, yellow or beige in color.

Q: Do Black Flies live in water in old tires and puddles like mosquitoes do?

A: No, they don’t. The egg, larval and pupal stages need moving or running water for oxygen and nourishment.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Midges

Q: When I hang laundry outside in the summer, large swarms of tiny flies gather on the clothes and I have to re-wash them! What are they?

A:If they look like tiny mosquitoes but do not bite you, they are most likely non-biting midges. They don’t carry disease but they can be extremely annoying, as they persist in flying around our heads in swarms. The biggest problem with them seems to be in the loss of tourism dollars for those areas that are invaded by hordes of these pesky insects.

Q: How do we get rid of midges? We cannot sit outside and enjoy our yard and pond, they are so dense at times!

A:It is really next to impossible to use sprays or insecticides to control these pests. Using a mosquito trap that uses CO2 as an attractant will help by drawing the midges to the trap and away from you. Note that the life of a Mosquito Magnet® trap may be impacted if consistently used in areas with dense populations of midges. Proper trap maintenance is especially important in these areas.

Q: Do female midges bite like female mosquitoes do?

A: No, female midges do not bite. They do not need human or mammalian blood for their eggs to develop, while female mosquitoes do.

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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about No-See-Ums

Q: What is the name of the little tiny flies that leave horrible bites? I called them No-See-Ums but my friend laughed at the name!

A: You are correct, although the name varies throughout the world depending on where No-See-Ums live. Here in the United States, we refer to them as No-See-Ums. If you lived in Scotland, you would call them Biting Midges or Highland Biting Midges. If you lived in Norway, you would call them “Knotts,” and in Canada you would probably call them “Moose Flies.” If you knew how to speak Gaelic, you would call them meanbh-chuileag which means “tiny fly.”

Q: Is there any place I can go to get away from these horrible, biting No-See-Ums? Their bite is really painful.

A: Well, not unless you wanted to move to Antarctica! These nasty little biters have even been found on Mount Everest! I wouldn’t want to be climbing thousands of feet in the air and be attacked by a swarm of these pests.

Q: Do No-See-Ums feed on animals as well as people?

A: Actually, No-See-Ums don’t “feed” on animals or people. They feed on nectar rather than warm blooded creatures. The females bite humans and animals to draw the blood needed for the development of the eggs.

Q: Are No-See-Ums attracted to humans?

A: Yes, it is believed that No-See-Ums are drawn to mammals, including humans by detecting certain odors we emit, particularly the carbon dioxide we exhale and lactic acid. Using a mosquito trap that uses CO2 as an attractant will help by drawing No-See-Ums to the trap and away from you. Note that the life of a Mosquito Magnet® trap may be impacted if consistently used in areas with dense populations of No-See-Ums. Proper trap maintenance is especially important in these areas.

Q: Do No-See-Ums Bite?

A: Yes, No-See-Ums bite. They can also be vectors of diseases, particularly in tropical regions.

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