Mosquitoes and ticks are among the most common and most noisome of all backyard pests. As such, much is known about them and much is done in our region in the way of mosquito and tick control measures.
Nonetheless, despite the familiarity of these two very unpleasant creatures, there are many “hidden” facts that most people simply don’t know about mosquitoes and ticks.
Here are five facts about mosquitoes and five facts about ticks that, perhaps, you never knew:
Five Little-Known Facts About Mosquitoes
1. The word “mosquito” is of Spanish derivation, meaning “little fly.” That makes sense if you know Spanish since “mosca” means “fly” and “-ito” is the diminutive suffix.
2. Only female mosquitoes are pests. All mosquitoes feed primarily on fruit and nectar. Females, however, also drink blood to get badly needed protein to the developing eggs. In fact, they can gorge themselves on blood to the tune of three times their body weight.
3. Mosquitoes are toothless. Even though they are so well known for biting, those are more technically “mosquito stings,” not “bites.” Having no teeth, a long proboscis is used to pierce victims’ skin and draw out blood.
4. Mosquitoes hibernate. Mosquitoes go into hibernation mode when outdoor temperatures dip below 50°F.
5. Mosquitoes find their victims in three ways: by following a “trail” of exhaled carbon dioxide, by smelling octanol and other chemicals emitted in sweat, and by using special sensors to detect body heat.
Five Little-Known Facts About Ticks
1. Ticks are rarely infected by pathogens. It’s true that ticks can transmit diseases, but when they do so, it is normally only because of infected blood from a previous host mixing with the blood of the new host.
2. Ticks live primarily on blood. There are specific species of ticks that gain most of their sustenance from the blood of deer, mice, and other animals (and people too!).
3. Ticks can feed for days on end on a single victim. They dig in their teeth and firmly attach themselves and then drink for as long as they can. It usually takes 24 to 48 hours before a disease can be transmitted, but there is no guarantee (so mosquito and tick control should not be considered optional).
4. Ticks are “stealthy.” That is, they purposefully climb up long blades of grass or other tall plants and wait for an animal or human to pass by so they can grab hold of them with their legs. Sometimes, they even jump from overhead and land on top of their prospective “blood donors.”
5. Ticks are technically not insects. While it might come as a surprise, ticks have eight legs instead of six and are, therefore, not true insects. They are related to spiders and are scientifically classified in the arachnid family.
Mosquito and Tick Control Strategies
There are a number of effective strategies you can employ to minimize mosquito and tick populations on your premises. Even in Puerto Rico, where mosquitoes and ticks thrive in the mild climate, there are ways to effectively “fight back.”
First, you should remove all standing water, cut down all tall grass and weeds, eliminate debris and yard litter, remove tarps and firewood, get rid of plants that attract deer (common tick carriers), and regularly check pets for ticks.
Next, you should contact a professional mosquito and tick management company, like Oliver Exterminating Services, to treat your premises with insecticides. Property-wide spraying, barrier treatments, spot-treatments, and regular anti-mosquito and anti-tick maintenance services can greatly reduce or eliminate mosquito and tick populations.
10 Facts About Mosquitoes and Ticks You Might Not Have Known in Puerto Rico
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