Naturalist Corner: Marina Talks Mosquitoes

From Summer Naturalist Marina Theisen, a great post about a question we are all asking:

Have you been itching to find out why mosquitoes are so bad this year? Let’s look at why mosquito populations are thriving, their importance, and of course, what can we do about them!

As a nature enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by insects. Insects play an extremely important role on this planet, not just to bug you! Insects pollinate our foods, play a large role in the food web, and decompose waste. These are just a few of the important things these little critters do!

But Marina! Do we need mosquitoes?

The short answer is, scientists are not really sure.

Before you tell me I’m crazy, let me explain!

Mosquitoes live part of their life as aquatic insects before they reach adulthood. In the stages before adulthood, they provide other aquatic life with plenty of food. Without mosquitoes, hundreds of different species of fish would have to change their diet in order to survive. Could they do this? Well, with the high mosquito populations, we haven’t had to find out. Aside from the importance of food, they also play a role in pollination. Scientists are also not entirely sure if, in the absence of mosquitoes, other pollinators could step in and do the job.

Now that we know the importance of mosquitoes to the natural world, we can talk about why they’re so bad this year, and what we can do to protect ourselves from the intense itching none of us want to endure.

As I mentioned before, mosquitoes spend most of their life in water until they reach adulthood. This means their egg, larval, and pupal stage all occur in water. They can breed in numerous types of water, but prefer stagnant water. This means anything that can hold still water for a duration of time such as old tires, bottle caps, tin cans and buckets. The reason the population of mosquitoes is thriving this year can be due to the amount of rainwater we’ve seen this spring. For reference, near O’Hare Airport, roughly 3 hours south of Wisconsin Dells, 2018 has had a record high of rainfall, beating the record previously set in 1945. Aside from the heavy rainfall, we have also seen heat, which allows for mosquitoes to speed up their life stages to adulthood. The combination of heat and standing rainwater has allowed for prime conditions for mosquito reproduction. I know what you’re thinking. Do I have any good news?

Experts say that just because we are all itching now, doesn’t mean we will have to all summer. If rainfall subsides, we may actually see less mosquitoes further into the season. In the meantime, a few tips and tricks are helping me fight these pesky pests here at Upham Woods.

  1. Use bug spray. Depending on whether you like all natural products or chemical based like DEET, there are many options for both parties. Please still do your research on the side effects of both products.
  2. Something that has worked for me is wearing a light breathable jacket and jeans. Covering up your body means you may be less likely to be bitten.
  3. Sport a positive attitude! As cliché as this sounds, mosquitoes in swarms have a tendency to really get to you sometimes. Even if you aren’t getting bit, you may still feel annoyed by their presence. Try your best to ignore them, and don’t let these less-than-dime sized creatures stop you from having a good time!
Sharing is Caring - Click Below to Share