Why Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Water?
Have you ever looked in a birdbath after it rained? If so, chances are you’ve seen a large number of small, swimming things moving around in it. These small things, while seemingly normal and harmless, grow up to be something much more than that: mosquitoes.
Perhaps you’ve noticed this in many more places, that large numbers of small, swimming creatures inhabit the water that you let sit in one place for a long period of time. What most people don’t know is that puddles and ponds of water attract the mosquito to them, drawing in more of this troublesome pest. One then begins to wonder, just why are the mosquitoes so attracted to water like this?
The Mosquito Life-Cycle
Mosquitoes have a life cycle consisting of an egg stage, a larval stage, a pupal stage, and an adult stage. The small creatures seen in water are often mosquitoes that are in their larval or pupal stages of life, where they must live within the water to survive. They are commonly seen in their larval stage, however, as their pupal stage often lasts a few days at most. The eggs typically last several days as well, and are not often seen. This is what brings us to our next question…
Why Exactly Are Mosquitoes Drawn to Water?
Mosquitoes are not necessarily drawn to water itself, but rather the potential home for their offspring. While some mosquitoes will lay their eggs directly in water, where they then float to the surface to hatch, others will lay their eggs on damp soil, leaves, or any other damp surface that they can find.
These areas are most likely to become flooded with water again at some time, such as the bottom of a riverbed. When this happens, the eggs will begin to develop into larva, triggering their life-cycle to begin. Most often, people will see them in areas of water that they frequently leave standing, such as a bird-bath or a watering can they leave out in the rain frequently. This is because the water is often there, making the chances of successful egg development greater than areas where water comes and goes.
So Wait, Are They Attracted to All Water?
The quick answer would be yes. The longer answer, however, would be that they are attracted to some water more than others. Areas that have more mosquitoes tend to be more humid, where rainfall is more frequent, leading to marshes and swamps. Lakes are another favorite of mosquitoes, as a lake is large enough to ensure that the water never fully evaporates, except in extreme conditions. The water in these areas tends to remain relatively still, with little flow that can disrupt the egg laying or developmental cycles.
Flowing water, on the other hand, tends to move rapidly. This movement can make it hard for a mosquito to lay its eggs, and those that it does lay risk being destroyed by the rushing water. The larva once they hatch would also be at a great risk, as they must come to the surface of the water to breath. While this is quite easy in a lake or a masch, doing so becomes difficult when the water is moving you every which way!
“But My Backyard is Full of Mosquitoes, and I Sure Don’t Have a Swamp In It!”
Is there a small creek near you? That can be a big factor, as small creeks tend to have slower moving water, a very good location for mosquitoes to lay eggs. As discussed before, bird baths and watering cans can be another good location for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. While a watering can is not the best, not using it frequently can allow mosquitoes to thrive in it. As for the bird bath, unless you have large numbers of birds coming to visit you, the water there probably isn’t moving much, and unless you take an active effort to change it, provides the perfect location for mosquito growth.