The Washington Post

Mosquitoes prosper following the heavy rains of August and September

Summer may be over, but — slap! — you wouldn’t know it from all the — slap! — mosquitoes still buzzing around.

Usually by this time of year, mosquitoes are not that noticeable, thanks to cooler temperatures. But not much has been usual about this year’s mosquito season.

Because there wasn’t a lot of rain in June and July, it looked as though the Washington area might have a mild mosquito season. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, such as a pond, a puddle or even a few drops of water on a leaf. Without a lot of rain, there weren’t a lot of mosquitoes. But all that changed in August.

“First, the thunderstorms happened, then on the heels of that we encountered [hurricane] Irene and were immediately smacked with [tropical storm] Lee,” said University of Maryland entomologist (bug scientist) Michael Raupp. “It’s really turned into a pretty impressive mosquito season.”

A bumper crop of biters emerged about six weeks ago and hasn’t let up. A mass of mosquitoes started hatching last week, about two weeks after a week of rain from Lee.

“Cooler temperatures will slow them down but won’t put an end to this,” Raupp said. The little pests won’t be gone for good until we have a night with freezing temperatures, which usually comes around mid-November. That sends mosquitoes, and their eggs, into hibernation until spring.

Here are some mosquito facts to help you know your opponent:

●In addition to needing water, mosquitoes thrive best in warm weather — it makes them develop faster from egg to adult. That means that when the weather is both wet and warm, as it was late this summer , there are simply more mosquitoes.

●If you are someone who gets a lot of mosquito bites, you can blame the girls — the girl mosquitoes, that is. Only female mosquitoes bite; they need blood to lay eggs. Males eat nectar from flowers.

●There are two common types of mosquitoes in this area: the Asian tiger and the Culex. The tiger mosquito is striped and bites all day long. The smaller, all-black Culex mosquito is more typically found at dusk and can be very clever. “They will basically follow you into the house,” Raupp said.

●It’s true that mosquitoes bite some people more than others. Dozens of different smells come off every human being from different parts of the body at all times, Raupp said, and each person has a different mix of scents. You can’t smell these odors, but mosquitoes can, and some people emit a mixture of smells that mosquitoes find irresistible. Unfortunately, it’s not known which scents they respond to the most — but you know it if you have them!

— Margaret Webb Pressler



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
In defense of dads
Play Videos
How to make head cheese
Perks of private flying
The rise and fall of baseball cards
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
New hurdles for a Maryland tradition
How to survive a shark attack
Play Videos
Portland's most important meal of the day
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to save and spend money at college

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.