When Do Mosquitoes Come Out
Every year, the sign that mosquito season has started comes in the form of itchy red bumps on our skin. Mosquitoes are, arguably, the most annoying aspect of summer. We generally associate them with hot summer days. However, these insect enemies actually emerge sooner than the scorching days of summer. Depending on which state you live in, mosquitoes may buzz around for most of the year.
The general rule of thumb is that mosquitoes exit hibernation once the temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In the US, mosquito season in southern states like Florida and Hawaii can begin as early as February. And in the northernmost inland states, from Maine to Washington, mosquitoes typically emerge by mid-May. If mosquitoes really drive you nuts, consider moving to Alaska! They have an extremely short mosquito season, usually from mid-June through July.1
Where Do Mosquitoes Go In Winter?
Mosquitoes, from the family of insects called Culicidae, are cold-blooded and can’t produce their own body heat2. Mosquitoes thrive in warmer temperatures, at 80 degrees F and above, slow down at 60 degrees and are unable to function at 50 degrees and below, so they must find strategies to survive3. While they’re not migratory like butterflies, they can survive when temperatures cool through a process called diapause, a state of dormancy similar to hibernation. According to entomologist David Denlinger, mosquitoes “essentially shut down their development and hunker it out until spring comes.”4
While not all mosquitoes survive freezing temperatures, diapause signals mosquitoes to prepare for winter, something scientists don’t fully understand and are actively studying to prevent mosquito-borne diseases. Mosquitoes prepare for winter much like warm-blooded creatures do. Similar to bears before hibernation, diapause triggers mosquitoes to consume and store fat in order to overwinter with enough food to survive until spring, when the females can emerge and breed again.5
Mosquito season can continue well into autumn. The first frost will signal the end of the season, but mosquitoes will quickly come out of hibernation if warm weather occurs during fall and winter.
Mosquitoes really are everywhere! The best way to reduce mosquitoes in your area is to eliminate any standing water in and around your home because mosquitoes lay their eggs on water. The maturing time frame for mosquito eggs depends on the species but can be anywhere from 4 days to 1 month.6 Think of any standing water as a potential mosquito breeding ground!
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- When Is Mosquito Season In Your State? (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2019, from http://www.mosquitomagnet.com/articles/mosquito-season
- Chris DiFonzo, Fred Springborn, and Megan Chludzinski, “How Insects Survive Cold: The Potential Effect of a Mild Winter,” MSU Extension, Michigan State University, March 29, 2012, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/how_insects_survive_cold_the_potential_effect_of_a_mild_winter.
- “Where Do Mosquitoes Go in the Winter?,” Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project, accessed October 4, 2022, https://www.cmmcp.org/mosquito-information/faq/where-do-mosquitoes-go-winter.
- Joe Palca, “Like Bears, Mosquitoes Fatten Up for Winter,” Morning Edition, NPR, March 4, 2010, https://www.npr.org/2010/03/04/124269686/like-bears-mosquitoes-fatten-up-for-winter.
- “Diapause as a Tool for Mosquito Suppression,” Baylor University, July 12, 2021, https://www.baylor.edu/research/news.php?action=story&story=224038.
- Biology. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.mosquito.org/page/biology