A defining part of summer is finding oneself riddled with mosquito bites and reveling in the sense of victory that follows slapping one that’s been giving you the business. But when winter comes, mosquitos are curiously absent, only to come roaring back in late spring. Where do they go during the winter?
As cold-blooded insects, some mosquito species are active for the whole year in warm tropical regions. Certain areas of the United States include South Florida, South Texas, and Southern California, and mosquitoes can stay active through most of the winter.
Mosquitoes cannot survive temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So when cold weather comes in other regions of the United States, mosquitoes enter a state of dormancy called diapause. Diapause is a means of surviving predictable, and unfavorable, environmental conditions like temperature extremes, lack of food, or drought.
Diapause itself involves three phases.
- Preparation or pre-diapause, which is when the mosquito is exposed to certain environmental signals (such as a drop in temperature, or shortened days), that trigger diapause in their offspring the following season.
- The second phase is the actual diapause itself, which, much like hibernation, involves a general decrease in metabolic activity, and the insect doesn’t respond to environmental stimuli.
- The last phase, called post-diapause, sees the complete reactivation of metabolism and development in the mosquito.
An important note, only female mosquitoes enter diapause. Male mosquitoes have short lifespans. They die after mating and usually only live for 10 days.
Diapause usually happens at a set point in an organism’s life. Still, in mosquitos, it can happen at different stages of the life cycle, such as in the embryo (where the larva is still inside the egg), larval, and adult stages.
Mosquitoes’ eggs in diapause are usually submerged under the ice because mosquitoes lay eggs in water. They hatch in late spring as temperatures rise.
Other kinds of mosquitos overwinter as adult females that mate in the fall, then pass the winter in diapause in animal burrows, hollow logs, or basements. If you do happen to see a lone mosquito on a warm winter day, it’s one of these.
While winter can be a harsh season in many respects, the lack of mosquitoes is a finer point often taken for granted. But as sure as the flowers bloom in May, these blood-sucking pests will be back. If you tend to experience a summertime onslaught of mosquitos, contact the knowledgeable specialists at MissQuito.
We offer the same to next-day appointments and are able to work around your schedule to deliver potent and eco-friendly mosquito control that will allow you to enjoy your spring and summer to the fullest extent possible.