Mosquitoes require blood to develop fertile eggs, thus only the females bite. The blood meal serves no nutritional purpose. Both males and females feed on plant liquids, nectar, and fruit juices to provide the sugar that is their main source of energy.
There are over 2500 different species of mosquitoes worldwide, close to 200 species occur in the United States, and we have identified 55 species here in Berkeley County.
Most of mosquito species in our area have an adult life span of only about two weeks. Some species over-winter as adults and live 2-3 months or longer if environmental conditions are favorable.
There are several things you can do to help reduce mosquitoes. For a list of practical measures please click on the Homeowner Tips link.
Because female mosquitoes feed on blood, they have the potential of transmitting disease organisms. World-wide, mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of disease to millions of people each year. These diseases include encephalitis, dengue, yellow fever, malaria, filariasis, and West Nile Virus. In Berkeley County the principle mosquito-borne diseases we are concerned with are Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), West Nile Virus, and Dog Heartworm. A number of biological and environmental conditions occurring in the current sequence must take place for EEE and WNV transmission into the human population to take place; however, it is very important to keep your horses vaccinated against these arboviruses. Dog heartworm is common to the area; if you don’t keep your dog on heartworm medication it will contract the disease.
Water is an integral part of a mosquito’s habitat. Mosquitoes go through four distinct stages in their life cycle: the egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Of these four stages, the first three occur in water. BCMA personnel check standing water throughout the county to determine if juvenile mosquitoes are present. When larvae or pupae are found, we apply environmentally friendly insecticides to the water. Obviously, eliminating the immature mosquitoes before they emerge as adults is our preferred means of control. Not only does it reduce the likelihood our citizens will be bitten by blood feeding adults, but it reduces the need for adulticide applications. Unfortunately there is no way to completely eliminate all of Berkeley County’s mosquitoes in their juvenile stages, so adult control remains a key component of our program.
BCMA does not spray on a set schedule. For environmental and economical reasons, we conduct adulticide operations when mosquitoes are present at such levels to pose a nuisance or possible health risk. We use a number of surveillance measures to determine when and where adult control measures are needed and dispatch our spray trucks accordingly.
There are several reasons why adulticide applications are made at night. 1) The majority of mosquito species are most active around dusk and again at dawn. We want to spray when mosquitoes are most likely to be out and flying. 2) In order for the spray droplets to remain close to the ground, applications must be made during a thermal inversion. This climatic condition normally occurs at night as ground temperature cools. Applications made during the middle of a hot day will be carried by rising currents of warm air straight up into the atmosphere. 3) Our citizens are less likely to be out and about after dark. While there is an extremely small risk associated with the adulticides we spray, BCMA strives to reduce human exposure as much as possible.