Mosquitos do not die during the cold winter months, despite popular belief. So, where do mosquitoes go in the winter? The way that mosquitoes survive the winter varies by species. The average male mosquito lives 10 days, and then it dies after mating. These males never make it past the fall. However, some females spend the colder months inactive in protected places, such as hollow logs or animal burrows.
In the case of the Zika virus-carrying yellow fever mosquito and Asian Tiger mosquito, these species spend the winter in the egg stage. As temperatures begin to fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, adult females will deposit their final batch of eggs in water-holding items containing as little as a half an inch of water. The adults will eventually die, while the newly deposited eggs enter a state of diapause, a process that suspends their development during the coldest months. When temperatures start to rise and rainfall picks back up again in spring, the eggs are re-submerged and hatch to start the next generation of Aedes mosquitoes.
This survival technique can carry serious implications when the eggs hatch. One study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found evidence that an infected female mosquito could pass Zika onto her offspring.
“Because the Zika-carrying, Aedes species of mosquitoes overwinter in the egg stage, it could be possible for infected females to lay some eggs that could survive the winter and emerge as diseased adults the following spring,” said Dr. Michael Bentley, staff entomologist for the National Pest Management Association.
What You Can Do
As the temperatures drop, it is still important to keep mosquito-safe habits in place. Below are some steps you should take, regardless of the time of year, to protect yourself from mosquitoes.
- Inspect your property now for water-holding items that could contain mosquito eggs deposited during the warmer months. These items may include flowerpots, birdbaths, tire swings, grill covers and other objects where water collects. Pour out the water to prevent the eggs from hatching. If possible, adjust the item so the water will stop pooling.
- Unclog gutters, repair any leaky pipes or faucets on the outside of your home, drill holes in the bottom of tire swings and wheelbarrow to allow water to drain and ensure trash cans are tightly sealed and lids aren’t flipped upside down.
- Apply an insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus when spending time outdoors, especially if you live in or visit areas that don’t get much colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit like Texas, Arizona, Hawaii, Florida and Southern California. Follow the directions printed on the label for maximum protection.
By taking the proper steps to prevent mosquitoes in the winter, your spring and summer months will be more enjoyable. If you want to learn more about mosquitoes and the threats they present to your family, visit our pest guide. And if you think you might have an infestation, contact us for a free inspection.