Mosquitoes are nothing if they are not resilient. Did you know that scientists have estimated that the mosquitoes we see buzzing around today have been unchanged for the past 46 million years? That means, based on fossil evidence, that mosquitoes survived the ice age (approximately 2.5 million years ago). So, could a south-central Pennsylvania winter even faze them? Well, we will tell you. Keep reading to learn exactly what happens to mosquitoes in the winter.
Believe it or not, mosquitoes do not simply die off during the colder months. According to the National Pest Management Association, how mosquitoes survive the winter differs by species.
The mosquito responsible for transmitting Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, overwinters in the egg stage. As temperatures begin to fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, adult females 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. The eggs survive the winter because they can withstand several months without water, as well as relatively cold conditions. As temperatures start to rise and rainfall picks back up again in spring, the eggs are re-submerged and hatch to start the next generation.
Other mosquitoes may overwinter as adults, hibernating in places like hollow logs or burrows created by other animals. Mosquitoes that belong to the genera Anopheles, Culex and Culiseta hibernate, and so do some other less common types in the United States. The Female mosquitoes of the Culex can gain up to 10 times their warm-weather weight in preparation for their winter hibernation. Unfortunately, the male of that species are not so lucky, they do not survive the winter.
What You Can Do
It’s important to take preventative measures, even in the fall and winter, by inspecting properties for any containers that may hold water and removing them. Remember, even if you don’t see any mosquitoes, these water collection sites can be harboring eggs. Mosquitoes need only half an inch of standing water (that could be as little as enough water to fill a soda cap) to lay their eggs.
It’s not unheard of to hear the buzzing of a mosquito around your house in winter. But even if you don’t just remember this: although mosquitoes may be out of sight, they are just waiting it out for spring.
Mosquitoes shouldn’t be the only ones making plans for the warmer months. Find out all the details on why we recommend considering mosquito protection during winter here.