Today’s technological advancements in the field of medicine and health have led to the eradication of the most causes for disease in the environment. Unfortunately, these methods are not foolproof; some carriers such as mosquitoes still roam freely.
With that, mosquito prevention and control in the Philippines should be high up on everyone’s priority list as it could potentially save you and your loved ones from bouts of malaise such as dengue, yellow fever, malaria, and more. Mosquitoes are very common in tropical environments, and are most abundant during the summer season.
Knowing more about Mosquitoes
A mosquito is a small flying insect that is best known for biting the skin of people and animals to draw blood. The scientific name of the mosquito is Culicidae, and belongs to the order Diptera. There are over 3,000 different species of mosquitoes currently present today (176 of these can be found in the United States alone). Mosquitoes have also been around for a long time, with the first species appearing 30 million years ago, which is more than enough time for their species to develop their ability to locate hosts that are fit for biting.
The name mosquito is a Spanish and Portuguese word which means “little fly.” The Spanish also call the insects as musketas, while Hispanic Americans call them zancudos, which means “long-legged.” Before being commonly called the mosquito, the English people used to call them gnats, the Germans called them Stechmucken or Schnacke, the Greeks called them Konopus, the French referred to them as Les moucherons and Les cousins, while the Scandinavians called them myg or myyga.
To identify specific species of mosquitoes, Latin scientific names are used, take the Anopheles quadrimaculatus, for example. Anopheles refers to the generic name group of certain species of mosquitoes, while quadrimaculatus is the species name, and usually refers to the groups of mosquitoes that have a similar physiology and body structure, while also being capable of interbreeding.
The Latin names are used to describe the species of mosquito in terms of appearance, or where they usually reside. Mosquitoes have both a Latin name, and a common name. For example, Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus is the Latin name, while its common name is black salt marsh mosquito. Another example would be the aforementioned Anopheles quadrimaculatus, the name Anopheles means hurtful or prejudicial in Greek, while quadrimaculatus means that the mosquito has 4 prominent spots on its body.
Belonging to order Diptera, this means that they are True Flies. True Flies are insects that have a pair of wings, but unlike other species of flies, the wings of the mosquito are scaled. Female mosquitoes are known for their long piercing and sucking proboscis. Meanwhile, males have shorter mouthparts, which do not give them the ability to pierce skin, and have feathery antennae. The main food source of the mosquito is nectar from plants, but females tend to have a diet of blood as their source of protein for their eggs during reproduction.
Mosquitoes are flying insects, and they can fly for speeds up to 1 to 1.5 miles per hour, and certain species can fly as far as 100 miles in the right conditions. They can also fly as high as 25 to 40 feet, although some species of mosquitoes were known to breed in mountain ranges like the Himalayas, which is 8,000 feet, and as low as 2,000 feet underground.
Mosquitoes weigh around 2.5 milligrams, with the heaviest species weighing up to 10 milligrams. Most mosquitoes have a lifespan of around 2 to 3 weeks, while some species that can over-winter in isolated locations can live for up to 6 months. Mosquitoes can consume around 0.001 to 0.01 milliliters of blood, and they can even drink up to three times their body weight. There are also certain species of mosquitoes that feed during the day and some that feed during the night.
Moreover, during the first stages of a mosquito’s lifespan, they spend the first 10 days in water, where they hatched from eggs. Females can lay eggs up to three times before they pass away. Areas with stagnant water are considered to be the best breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and the eggs can hatch and thrive in as a little of an inch of water. When mating, male mosquitoes can detect female mosquitoes just by the sound of their wings.
The anatomy of a Mosquito
Like all insect species, mosquitoes have three main body parts, namely the head, thorax, and abdomen. Here is a list of their functions:
Head – The head is where all of the mosquito’s sensors are located. This is also the location of their mouth parts, called the palpus, and the biting part (for the females) called the proboscis. The head has two compound eyes and antennae which can sense chemicals.
Thorax – This is the part of their body in which the legs and wings of the mosquito are attached. A mosquito has 2 wings, along with 6 legs. This is also where the mosquito’s heart, flight muscles, tracheoles, and nerve cell ganglia are located.
Abdomen – This is the part of the mosquito that contains the excretory and digestive organs.
As mentioned above, the head of the mosquito contains sensors that help it detect species that they can bit and get blood from. They have three sensors present, and these include:
- Heat Sensors – This is what mosquitoes use to detect the heat signature of warm-blooded animals once they get close.
- Visual Sensors – Mosquitoes have a way of detecting targets that they consider to be “alive” and fit for biting. Most of the time mosquitoes tend to be attracted to mobile targets, especially ones who wear colors that differ from the background.
- Chemical Sensors – Mosquitoes can also detect targets based on the gases that animals are breathing in and out. They can sense lactic acid and carbon dioxide for up to 100 feet, and can be also attracted to human sweat.
What are Mosquito Related Diseases?
1) Malaria – This is a fatal disease that is caused when an infected female Anopheles mosquito lands and bites anyone. Once it does, it transmits a parasite named Plasmodium Falciparum to its victim. The parasite develops for around 10 to 18 days in the mosquito’s body, and can be passed on to other mosquitoes while feeding. These parasites act by getting into your system, then attacking your liver. They will then start reproducing at a very rapid rate and will then attack your red blood cells, disrupting its flow throughout your body. These actions will cause you to develop chills, flu-like symptoms, and severe headaches. Severe infections can cause kidney failure, which can lead to death. Medication like Quinine helps cure patients by attacking the parasites present in the blood stream.
2) Dengue Fever – Still common even today, dengue is a deadly disease that can be found throughout the Earth’s tropical belt. It is one of the most common mosquito-borne diseases in the Philippines, infecting thousands of people on a yearly basis. It is also very common in the Americas, Africa, and other countries in Asia. Caused by the Aedes mosquito, its symptoms include high fevers, severe headaches, dry rashes, and joint pain.
The fever can last up to a week, and can be followed by bruising and bleeding. The fatality rate of Dengue fever, according to the CDC, is around 5 percent. Around 100 million people every year are infected with the disease, and while the fatality rate is low worldwide, not treating it immediately can be fatal. There is no specific cure for Dengue, although doctors and medical professionals recommend hospitalization, drinking fluids regularly, and acetaminophen.
3) West Nile Virus – Like the dengue virus, the West Nile virus is also common in tropical countries. The virus is transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected bird which may then come in contact with a human being. It is highly contagious, being able to spread via bodily fluids such as saliva, phlegm, and even breast milk. Symptoms include stiff neck, headaches, high fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Mild infections shouldn’t be too worrying, though sufferers should take care not to let it fester for too long as it could get worse. Extreme cases bring about symptoms like convulsions, coma, and can lead to death. The virus can also cause permanent neurological damage to a person. People, who get infected with West Nile Virus, are known to develop a natural immunity to the disease.
4) Yellow Fever – This is also caused by Aedes mosquitoes, typically areas in Africa and South America. The problem with this disease is that it has an incubation period of about a week and you’ll only notice you have it once it matures. The symptoms include nausea, fever, and headaches. Unfortunately, there is no cure for it, although one can be vaccinated. If this disease blossoms fully and symptoms persist it could lead to more serious effects, which could possibly lead to death, so you have to be careful.
5) Zika Virus – One of the most recent strains of viruses that can be contracted from mosquitoes, the Zika virus is another major health threat, especially to newborns. The Zika Virus causes a condition called microcephaly, which causes newborn babies to be born with smaller heads, along with developmental problems. The virus is commonly transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and can also be also spread sexually. Currently, there is no vaccine for the Zika virus, and the best way to protect yourselves is by regularly using mosquito repellent
6) Chikungunya – This is another fever causing virus that can be contracted from the Aedes Aegypti and the Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The incubation period of Chikungunya fever is around 3 to 7 days, and the symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sudden fever, joint pain with possible swelling, headache, chills, rashes, and lower back pain. Like the Zika virus, there is no vaccine that has been developed for Chikungunya. It is advisable to regularly drink fluids, get rest, and take medication such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
How do I Control Mosquito Related Diseases?
Most of the aforementioned diseases have a one-all cure. Luckily, most of the time, our immune systems can do the job in its own right.
Despite that though, preventive measures should always be taken to ensure that you don’t have to deal with any of these diseases at all.
Mosquito control isn’t at all hard to do; all it takes is a level of cleanliness and some maintenance of your living environment to ensure that mosquitoes aren’t allowed a safe place to grow or fester.
For one, you should take advantage of the availability of vaccines whenever you can. By teaching your body to resist some of these diseases, you’re preparing yourself to be tougher against them should you encounter any one of them.
Secondly, you should optimize your environment for cleanliness. Never leave stagnant water for long periods of time out in the open, and this goes double for dirty water. If you have to, then make sure to cover your containers and keep it as air tight as possible to keep any unwanted critters out. Flower pots, old tires, puddles, and various outdoor containers are common culprits; check these items often for possible infestations.
Thirdly, you should install and use preventive equipment such as screens on your doors and windows to minimize the chance of any mosquitoes coming to invade your home. You could also periodically spray your home with chemical repellants. Better yet, you could make your own – plants like citronella are amazing at naturally keeping insects away.
Lastly, don’t forget to take care of your trash, too. Always cover your bins and bag all your trash, especially organic materials as these are the most prone to attracting insects and the like.
You never know when these mosquitoes will strike or if any of them are carriers of deadly diseases. But, if all else fails, approaching a professional such as Topbest is the best preventive measure. You can visit our website at https://topbest.ph/ to see the testimonials on the various services we offer!