Mosquito Species in Eastern Massachusetts

 

Marin/Sonoma MVCDMarin/Sonoma MVCD
Four stages of a house mosquito’s life: adult – after emerging it flies away to a hidden resting place; egg raft – with several hundred eggs; larva – with a breathing tube to get oxygen from the air; pupa – it does not feed but still needs oxygen. – Marin/Sonoma MVCD

There are 52 mosquito species commonly found in Massachusetts. Each species has it’s own unique combination of characteristics. The presence of a particular mosquito species is dependent on the type of nearby wetland or habitat. Examples of different habitats that produce different mosquito species include permanent swamps, temporary woodland pools, river flood plains, cattail swamps or artificial containers. The last item can be almost any container which can hold stagnant water for at least a week in the summer, including roadside highway drains, old rimless tires, unused swimming pools, uncovered empty trash cans, and bird baths. The species of mosquito found at any one time in an area is dependent on temperature and season, as there are early spring, late spring, summer, and mid-summer species. Some mosquito species have several generations each summer, so their populations increase as the summer goes along. Most mosquito species are active primarily during dusk and dawn or during cloudy warm days. However, one local species is active all night and one species will bite during hot sunny days. Three of our local mosquito species will enter protected shelters such as houses, and it is usually one of these three species that annoy people while they are trying to sleep. While some mosquitoes are indiscriminate about what they bite, most are selective. Some of our mosquito species feed primarily on humans and other mammals, while others mostly bite birds, and still others feed on amphibians (such as frogs) or reptiles (such as snakes). Some species are very aggressive and persistent, while others are very shy. Finally, some deliver a more annoying bite that results in more itching. The chance of acquiring a mosquito-borne disease in Massachusetts is extremely rare. However, the species which are believed to transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis include some of the most numerous species, which on given nights can be caught on any suburban or rural property in eastern Massachusetts. Mosquitoes also transmit animal diseases, and the probability of a pet dog or cat acquiring heartworm is not so remote. It is recommended that a veterinarian give dogs and cats preventative medication.

Ochlerotatus abserratus–Very common early spring to early summer mosquito pest of humans and other mammals. Larvae are found in temporary spring pools and margins of permanent waters in April. Readily bites in shaded areas during the day.

Ochlerotatus aurifer–Found occasionally in the spring and early summer. Vicious biting pest of humans and other mammals. Larvae are found in the spring in open marshes.

Ochlerotatus canadensis–Common late spring and summer mosquito. Fierce biting pest of humans and other mammals. Larvae are abundant in late spring and found occasionally during the summer in woodland pools, swamp borders and grassy hummock areas. This long-lived mosquito is the primary suspect in the transmission of heartworm to dogs and a possible suspect in the transmission of EEE from birds to humans.

Aedes cinereus–Common late spring and early summer mosquito pest of humans and other mammals. Larvae are found in late April and May in tussock and leather-leaf marshes.

Ochlerotatus excrucians–Very common mid spring and early summer mosquito pest of humans and other mammals. Larvae are found in a wide range of wetland habitats. This mosquito is a suspect in the transmission of heartworm to dogs.

Ochlerotatus sollicitans–Very common summer mosquito found primarily along the coast. This aggressive mosquito will bite on a hot sunny day and is known to fly long distances, so it occasionally turns up in our district. Larvae are found on the edges of salt marshes.

Ochlerotatus triseriatus–Common summer mosquito. A pest of humans and other mammals. Most of these larvae actually are found in old rimless tires, although some are found in other shaded artificial containers and in tree holes.

Ochlerotatus trivittatus–Common summer mosquito. Larvae are found in floodwater pools in both swamps and marshes. This pest is a persistent biter, and will even bite during the day.

Aedes vexans–Very common summer mosquito. This pest of humans and other mammals can have several generations each season, so the population may increase during the summer. Larvae are found in a wide variety of temporary pools and wetlands. This mosquito is a suspect in the transmission of EEE from birds to humans.

Anopheles punctipennis–Found occasionally in the spring and summer. This pest of humans and other mammals has a mildly annoying bite. The larvae are found in a wide variety of wetlands including permanent swamps and along the edges of ponds and slow moving streams.

Anopheles quadrimaculatus–Common Summer mosquito. A pest of humans and other mammals that readily enters houses and has a mildly annoying bite. The population increases during the summer. The larvae are found in clear water amongst low vegetation or floating debris, in permanent swamps, and along the edges of ponds and slow moving streams.

Culex pipiens and Culex restuans–Very common year round mosquitoes which primarily feeds on birds. It will readily enter a house, but is considered shy. It will typically only bite people when they are motionless, usually while they are sleeping. The larvae are found in water holding containers and in polluted waters. Culex pipiens are considered the primary vector of West Nile Virus and a potential vector of EEE.

Culex salinarius–Common summer mosquito. A fierce biting pest of birds, humans and other mammals which can have several generations in a summer, so the population may increase during the season. This mosquito is active all night. Larvae are found in both fresh and polluted grassy hummock areas of permanent water swamps.

Culiseta melanura–Common spring and summer mosquito. A bird- feeding mosquito that can have several generations per year, so the population may increase towards the end of the summer. Larvae are found in holes in the root structures of white cedar and red maple trees in swamps. This is an important mosquito species because it is believed to spread EEE virus through the bird population. This mosquito does not bite humans.

Coquillettidia perturbans–Very common mid-June to mid-August mosquito. An indiscriminate pest of birds, humans and other mammals that is known to be a vicious biter, and will readily enter homes. The larvae are unusual in that they are found attached to the submerged roots of cattails and a few other aquatic plants. This trait makes this species impervious to control using pesticides that are effective against larvae of other species. This mosquito is suspected in the transmission of EEE from birds to humans.
Culex territans, Culiseta morsitans, Uranotaenia sapphirinia–These are unimportant biters of birds and amphibians that are found in a variety of wetlands. Ur.sapphirinia are unusual because under a microscope they are an iridescent green.

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