The U.S. is home to about 200 mosquito species, which serve as pollinators and a food source for other creatures. However, having mosquitoes around can be a significant nuisance and health hazard – particularly if the mosquitoes in your area can spread germs.
Below, we’ll explain which mosquitoes bite, how mosquitoes transmit disease, and which mosquito-borne illnesses are a known problem in the United States.
WHICH MOSQUITOES BITE?
One of the biggest misconceptions about mosquitoes is that they all bite to drink blood. This is untrue. Fascinatingly, only female mosquitoes bite to obtain blood meals. The reason boils down to reproductive requirements.
Male mosquitoes survive by feeding on plant juices, such as nectar—no blood whatsoever. Female mosquitoes also feed on nectar and similar food sources. However, the females cannot produce eggs unless they have enough protein in their diet, which they cannot obtain from nectar. Therefore, they’ll bite people and animals to get a blood meal, which provides them with the protein they need to produce eggs.
HOW DO MOSQUITOES SPREAD DISEASE?
Just as only female mosquitoes consume blood meals, only female mosquitoes can spread disease. Furthermore, only some mosquito species transmit disease in the United States.
For a mosquito to spread disease, the insect must get infected first. A mosquito can become infected when obtaining a blood meal from a person or animal with a germ in their blood. If the germ can multiply in the mosquito’s body, the insect can spread the germ.
Over about two to three weeks, the germ continues multiplying inside the mosquito and spreads to its salivary glands. Then, when the mosquito bites a person or animal, it can pass the germ through its saliva to the person or animal’s blood. From there, the germ can infect the person or animal's body.
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MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASES IN THE UNITED STATES
According to the CDC, West Nile virus is among the most common mosquito-borne illnesses in the continental United States. Some other mentionable outbreaks in the U.S. and its territories have involved chikungunya, Dengue, and Zika virus.
Below is the full list of mosquito-borne diseases in the United States and its territories:
- Cache Valley
- Dirofilariasis (dog heartworm)
- Eastern equine encephalitis
- Jamestown Canyon
- Japanese encephalitis
- La Crosse encephalitis
- Lymphatic filariasis
- Rift Valley fever
- Ross River virus disease
- St. Louis encephalitis
- Yellow fever
5 Quick Facts About West Nile Virus
- West Nile virus (WNV) is primarily spread by the Culex species of mosquito.
- Although 8 out of 10 people infected with WNV don’t develop symptoms, the disease can have serious implications for some individuals.
- 1 in 5 people infected with WNV will develop a fever and may experience other symptoms, including vomiting, headache, rash, body aches, or joint pain. Those afflicted with this fever typically recover completely but may experience weakness and fatigue for months afterward.
- 1 in 150 infected with WNV develop a severe illness that can lead to brain and spinal cord damage and ultimately death.
- There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus, and according to the CDC, “No WNV vaccines are licensed for use in humans.” For this reason, it’s crucial to take steps to prevent mosquito bites and protect yourself from infection.
Effective Mosquito Removal Services in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro
At Sage Pest Control, we know that effective mosquito control makes your North Carolina home safer and more comfortable. We offer a thorough approach to tackling mosquito issues so that you can have peace of mind around your property and enjoy spending time outdoors. Call us at (704) 413-3398 to schedule your appointment with a friendly Sage Pest Control expert!