Reporting Mosquito Problems
Mosquitos are sometimes carriers of dangerous diseases. In humans, malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and encephalitis, and in dogs heartworm. Most of these diseases, with the exception of human encephalitis and canine heartworm, have been fairly well eliminated from the entire United States. Outbreaks of mosquito borne encephalitis have periodically occured in Missouri. Canine heartworm is an endemic problem, with costs to animal owners escalating each year. Effective mosquito control measures including the elimination of swamp areas, and maintenance efforts to keep road ditches clear and water free have done much to control mosquito populations. This reduces the potential for disease transmission. Each year there remains the possiblity that outbreaks may occur since the mosquitoes which have the capability to transmit them are readily found in the state.
Mosquitos are broadly classifed into two groups:
- Floodwater mosquitoes
- Permanent water mosquitoes
Floodwater mosquitoes lay their eggs on damp soil where flooding will occur or, in some cases, above the water line in treeholes, artificial containers, or other small bodies of water. When water (rain) fills these areas and floods the eggs, they hatch, and, after a week or so in the larval stages, broods of mosquitoes emerge simultaneously. These mosquitoes are mainly of the pest variety, and are the first to emerge in the spring months. The eggs are laid in previous seasons and overwinter in that stage. Some of these have only one brood being produced with each significant rain. Eggs of these species have been known to remain viable for up to five years after they are laid. Many of these mosquitos are strong flyers and may range up to ten miles or more in search of a blood meal. They must have a blood meal to lay eggs.
The permanet water mosquitos lay their eggs directly on the water surface, either singly or in rafts. Populations of these grow as the season progresses in relation to the availability of breeding habitat, water, favorable weather conditions, and food. Overwintering takes place as adults in protected areas of buildings, caves, etc., or in the larval form, depending on the species. Many of the species in this group do not venture far from their breeding sites.
We have approximately 50 species of mosquitoes in Missouri. Among these, the life span ranges from less than a week to several months. Among all mosquitoes, it is only the female which "bites." She does so in order to obtain the blood meal she requires to lay viable eggs.
How Mosquito Species Multiply
All mosquitoes begin life as eggs. Under proper conditions, the egg hatches in two or three days into a larva, which is aquatic, but must breathe air. The larval stage lasts from four to ten days, depending on species and air temperature. After the larval stage, it becomes a pupa, and the pupal stage lasts another day or two. After this, a winged adult emerges.
Mosquitoes can breed in very small areas of water, including tin cans, old tires, drain troughs, household trash, rain pools and puddles where water can be expected to last for 10 days or longer. Large and deep bodies of water are usually not good mosquito breeding areas because of the presence of natural predators (fish, tadpoles) and the actions of waves. Mosquito larvae cannot survive without still water or protection by emergent vegetation.
If you believe you have a mosquito breeding problem on your property, but are not sure, please call the City of Wentzville who contracts with St. Charles County for the spraying of mosquitoes during the warm spring and sumer months. There is no regularly scheduled spraying of mosquitoes. This service is only provided upon request. Chemicals are not effective for spraying when temperatures are 60 degrees and under.
You many contact the Public Works Department at 636-639-2049, the Concern Line at 636-639-2121 or through the online concern system.
What You Can Do
You as a resident can do more to control mosquitoes around your home than all other methods combined. Proper maintenance of your property is the first step. All trash and refuse that could contain water should be eliminated. The property should be adequately graded and drained, to prevent any pools or puddles of water that may last 10 days or longer. You should initiate the following practices on your property:
- Collect and properly discard all useless artificial containers such as tin cans, bottles, buckets, vases, and old tire casings;
- Make certain that your rain gutters and downspouts are not blocked by leaves or other debris which would cause water to stand in them
- Stack pails, barrels, tubs, vases up-side down.
- Cover boats and canoes, or store them upside down.
- Stock rock gardens, garden pools and lily ponds with small fish, including the top water feeding minnow and gold fish.
- Fill in or drain any low places where water may stand for more than a week.
- Empty and clean small wading pools at least once a week.
- Provide proper maintenance of back yard wimming pools to discourage the development of mosquitoes.
- Drain livestock water tanks once each week or stock them with goldfish or top water feedings minnows.
- Cover rain barrels, cisterns or fire barrels with 16-mesh wire screening.
- Install splash blocks around homes to carry water away from foundations.
- Store wheelbarrows upside down.
After you have done all you can do to reduce the number of mosquitos on your property, you can protect yourself against the onces that remain by being sure your home is adequately screened, by wearing protective clothing, and by using mosquito repellent, which is quite effective.