Town is abuzz with mosquitoes out for blood


There are more than 3,000 mosquito species worldwide, and only a few places, like Iceland and Antarctica, are free of them.

Notice Port Washington isn’t on the mosquito-free list.

They’ve been plaguing most of the creatures on earth for more than 100 million years since they’re equal opportunity pests that feed on reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals and even fish if part of one sticks out of the water.

The Department of Natural Resources says we have a modest 56 species in Wisconsin, and they’re buzzing around town after the recent flooding.

Mosquitoes go through four life stages.

The process begins when a female mosquito deposits her eggs in or near water. It doesn’t take much — an inch will do.

Each female lays about 100 eggs at a time, and she may live long enough to produce two or three clutches, so despite high mortality rates, the descendants of a single mating may number in the thousands.

Depending on the circumstances, the eggs hatch and become larvae in just a few days.

They feed on algae, and after a few more days or weeks of feeding, they come to the surface and pupate.

In both of these life stages the mosquitoes need to reach the surface to breathe.

Treating the surface of still water in malarial zones is one of the most effective ways to control the insects.

After a few days, the adult mosquito, or imago, emerges from the pupa.

The adult rests and hardens its wings, then takes to the air to find a mate and repeat the cycle.

Both male and female adults feed on nectar.

But to produce eggs, the female mosquito needs the protein and nutrients found in blood.

She uses her highly developed sense of smell to find it.

High concentrations of carbon dioxide lead straight to whatever mammal, reptile or bird she feeds on.

She can sense compounds in sweat that indicate a particularly nutrious victim. It’s not imagination that makes some people complain that mosquitoes love to bite them.

Some of us really are more attractive to mosquitoes on the hunt.

A hunting female mosquito is a tricky beast.

She lands on her prey where she’s the least likely to be spotted.

A dark, short-sleeved T-shirt, for example, is more attractive than a white one.

She can also sense heat, so she can find birds or bunnies and get a drink even if they’re hidden from sight.

My husband and I are in the ultra-tasty category to local mosquitoes, so right now we’re swarmed the minute we step outside.

Since I’m an old lady and was exposed to about every known toxin on my old job, when I work in the garden I use a DEET based repellant without worry.

The Wisconsin DNR says products containing 30% or less of DEET are safe for use by children and even pregnant women.

If you can’t just stay inside, wear light colored clothing that covers the skin completely and keep moving when outdoors.

Mosquitoes are one of the most dangerous creatures on earth because they spread diseases — West Nile and encephalitis in Wisconsin.

Adult mosquitoes, larvae and eggs are all able to survive the winter, so this autumn’s bumper crop of biters may be back again in early spring. It’s unfair — so many of them, all aimed at tasty me.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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