Attract bats to your backyard with a bat-roost box and your mosquito problems are over. Right? Wrong! Studies have shown that while bats devour a huge number of insects, mosquitoes are only a small part of their diet. A study of fecal pellets of bats in Indiana conducted throughout an entire summer revealed that the primary food items were beetles, moths, and leafhoppers. A very small number of mosquitoes (0.7%) were found in the stomachs of bats in another study. Bats are "selective opportunists" when it comes to their feeding habits, and they will take a variety of prey. Why take a scrawny little mosquito when you can have a fat juicy moth? Unfortunately, mosquitoes are justnot a significant part of their diet. The evidence from stomach analysis and feces examination does not justify the hypothesis that insectivorous bats specialize on particular types of insects.
Recently the Colorado Department of Public Health advised that bats can be infected with rabies, and that attempting to attract bats to your yard may increase the potential for human disease.
Almost 2 million homeowners have turned to the use of ultraviolet or black light electrocutors to zap their mosquito problems, but do they work? No! Researchers have found that while these traps do attract and kill thousands of insects every night, mosquitoes comprised only 6.4% of a five-day insect catch. Not only was the mosquito population a small percentage of all insects killed during this particular study, but only half of the mosquitoes killed were the biting, blood-feeding females.
Many plants are commonly thought to repel mosquitoes. Over the past few years the citrosa plant was created by crossing tissue cultures of an African Germanium with the Grass of China. The Grass of China contains citronella oil, and has been used for years as an active ingredient in mosquito repellent candles. No studies are available to support the idea that the citrosa plant or any other plant actually repels mosquitoes strongly enough to improve human comfort. In fact, some researchers believe that the only way the citrosa plant can release the citronella oil is if the plant is crushed.
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By Michael "Doc" Weissmann Ph.D.
Surveillance & Laboratory Manager
Colorado Mosquito Control
- Only the female mosquito bites. She needs the protein from blood to develop her eggs.
- There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes worldwide! About 130 species reside in North America, about 45 have been identified in Colorado.
- A mosquito only weighs 1/25,000 of an ounce!
- Male mosquitoes tend to hatch earlier than female mosquitoes and have a shorter life span.
- Males generally live only a few weeks while females live approximately 2 months.
- Mosquitoes are most active just before sunset until sunrise, yet some species remain active and bite all day long.
- Dog heartworm is now fairly common Colorado, particularly along the Front Range and is transmitted by mosquitoes. This disease can cause significant damage to the heart, lungs, and other vital organs of dogs. It is crucial that your dog visits the veterinarian each year to obtain preventive medicine.
- Mosquitoes actually inject their saliva into your skin to prevent blood clotting before they take your blood. This substance and your body's reaction to it is what makes your skin bump up and itch.
- Mosquitoes are attracted to humans for a number of reasons. We exhale carbon dioxide which is an attractant for all biting insects. Other substances on our skin may also be attractive to mosquitoes such as certain body chemicals, along with soaps, lotions, perfumes, and hair care products.
- Light colors are less attractive to mosquitoes than dark. Loose fitting clothes make it more difficult for them to bite you.
- Repellents containing 10-35% DEET (N,Ndiethyl-meta-toluamide) are most effective. Repellents confuse mosquitoes by blocking the pores in your skin that allow mosquitoes to sense warmth and moisture in a person’s body.
- Tires, birdbaths, flower pots, rain barrels, children’s toys, abandoned pools, tarps, and boats can all breed mosquitoes if they are holding water. It is important to empty these items every 7-10 days in the summer.