How Do Mosquitoes Survive the Winter?

How Do Mosquitoes Survive the Winter?

October 07, 2020

With the persistence of mosquitoes throughout the ages — there’s evidence that mosquitoes date back to the Jurassic period, when dinosaurs roamed the earth! — you can bet this insect has a number of survival adaptations which account for their amazing success as a species. Included in this is the way they are able to stay alive in cold and freezing outdoor temperatures.

Hibernation and Diapause

So, where do mosquitoes go in the winter? Most of us assume they die off in areas that have cold winters, and this is true to some extent. Some species (remember, there are over 3,000 distinct species worldwide) actually do die in cold weather. However, they leave eggs behind, which remain viable until the warmth and moisture of spring triggers them to hatch and create a new generation.

mosquito life cycle

Most mosquitoes, though, spend the winter either hibernating or in a state of diapause, during which their life cycle development is basically paused pending more favorable environmental conditions. Mosquitoes that are eggs, larvae or pupae when the weather turns colder in the fall halt at whatever phase they’re in, remaining that way for months until warmer spring weather begins. At this point, they continue their development to a full, biting adult within days.

Other species of mosquitoes, including those in genera Anopheles, Culex, Culiseta and some other less common types in the United States, hibernate as adult mosquitoes throughout cold-weather months. They find hollow logs, crevasses in trees or rocks, animal burrows, as well as places inside human structures like barns or the cellars of houses. When winter nears an end and temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they awaken from hibernation to resume feeding, breeding and biting.

Diversity of Adaptation

Due to the great number of mosquito species that exist, and their adaptations to climates all over the world, there is a great deal of diversity in how mosquitoes handle the cold. In some places where winters are mild, mosquitoes don’t need to hibernate at all. Others come out of hibernation during winter even with just a small increase in temperature. Still others hatch so early in spring, there is still snow on the ground. These types of winter-active mosquitoes belong to a variety of species, but are collectively nicknamed “snow mosquitoes.”

Minimizing Mosquito Overwintering

raking leaves for mosquitoes

Because mosquitoes usually awaken from hibernation or diapause well before the time we consider warm-weather pest control, it pays off to start thinking early of ways to minimize places they can winter over.

With the biggest factor in mosquitoes’ survival being moisture, eliminating areas of standing water around your yard can decrease their populations. This serves to deprive the larvae and pupae of the pooled water necessary for their development. Look for places where water collects, like small divots in patio furniture, potted plant trays, corners of kids’ play equipment and underneath decks.

Since the underside of wet leaves is the perfect hiding spot for mosquitoes, make sure that your rain gutters are clear and that piles of raked leaves are collected and disposed of. Although it may seem obvious, attend to any areas of your yard that have drainage issues, because the mini “swamps” that form especially after rainfall, are huge breeding grounds for mosquito pests.

Along with your efforts to minimize favorable breeding conditions for mosquitoes, you might feel more freedom and peace of mind considering the expert, highly effective options for mosquito extirpation offered by MosquitoNix. Check out our mosquito misting systems and mosquito fogging, a couple of the most successful mosquito control system techniques in the nation.

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