Where are all those mosquitoes coming from?
Somewhere in the corner of your yard, a forgotten watering can or bucket hides with a little water in the bottom. Or maybe a rain gutter doesn’t drain properly and is never completely dry. These places are ideal breeding places for mosquitoes. If (rain)water stands for any length of time, it becomes habitat for all manner of microscopic life. Female mosquitoes are very good at finding these places to lay their eggs. Without larger creatures to eat the mosquito larvae, they will grow undisturbed into adult mosquitoes.
That’s where most mosquitoes come from. In marshes or ponds, hopefully most larvae will be eaten by fish and other water creatures. Mosquito larvae live on single-celled animals and algae. Larvae are usually found just below the water surface, and only when they are disturbed do they dive for cover. They hang on the surface of the water to breath, which they do through a tube on their abdomen.
Male mosquitoes leave people and other warm-blooded animals alone, dining exclusively on sugars from nectar, over-ripe fruit, and the honeydew from aphids. These sugars provide all the energy needs. Females also live happily on these sugars. These innocent vegetarians are satisfied with their nectar. The trouble only begins after they have mated. When the female is fertilized, she becomes that irritating monster we all dislike so much. For the proper development of her eggs, she needs protein, and she finds this in the blood of warm-blooded animals and people.
For such a small creature, she can suck up an unbelievable quantity of blood. Have a look at the series of pictures above. Remenber, every time you look, relieved and satisfied, at the blood-spot on the wall where you just smash a mosquito, that’s your blood you’re looking at.
Tip: Next time, instead of reaching for the bug spray, rub some tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) on your skin to repel mosquitoes.
Top photos: I photograph a mosquito as she draws blood from my hand. You can see her body swell with my blood.
Left: A mosquito larvae, and below that a pupae, which also lives in the water. The mosquito comes out of the pupae at the water surface.