Mosquitoes are insects that belong to the scientific classification - Diptera, the
true flies. Like all true flies, mosquitoes have 1 pair of wings instead of 2. What
separates them from other true flies is that their mouthparts have evolved to form a long
straight piercing structure called a “proboscis”. Through this, a female mosquito can feed
from a suitable host by piercing their skin and finding a blood vessel and draining it into
their body. The mosquito doesn’t really gain nutrition from blood feeding. Instead, the
proteins from the blood are used to help her eggs to develop. Male mosquitoes do not
bloodfeed and feed on plant nectars instead.
It’s through this blood “feeding” behavior that a mosquito can act as a vector, or
transmitter, of diseases between humans and animals. Depending on the species,
mosquitoes can transmit diseases like malaria, yellow fever, dengue, filariasus and
encephalitis (such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus).
All mosquitoes require an aquatic habitat as part of their life cycle. In Ocean
County, mosquitoes can be found in a wide variety of breeding habitats. These include
roadside ditches, flooded woodlands, freshwater swamps, stormwater basins, artificial
containers (tires, abandoned pools, children’s pools, etc...) and coastal saltmarshes. There
is even a species that only breeds in the water inside of a Pitcher Plant.
While there are about 2600 species of mosquitoes worldwide, 63 species have
been identified in New Jersey. Of those, 40 species with breeding population have been
found in Ocean County. Fortunately, only a handful of these species pose a nuisance
problem to humans and animals and even fewer are a disease transmission threat.
Ochlerotatus sollicitans, the white-banded saltmarsh mosquito, the species that
breeds in the coastal saltmarshes. (i.e. grassy tidal lands surrounding Barnegat Bay), by
far constitutes the major pest species throughout Ocean County. Heaviest populations
exist in the southern half of Ocean County, however, this species is capable of traveling
20 miles or more in search of a bloodmeal. Surveillance collections have found them as
far west as New Egypt.
Oc. sollicitians is a brood mosquito. That is, peaks in population will occur all at
once, usually in response to a heavy rainfall or moon tides. This will generally result in
localized “highs” and “lows” of their numbers in different sections of Ocean County.
Generally, peak mosquito feeding activity occurs during dawn and dusk, with
adult mosquito seeking places to rest during the heat of the day. With Oc. sollicitans,
while peaks are at dawn and dusk, they can actively feed during any part of the day.
Other important species in Ocean County include Aedes vexans - the Swamp
Mosquito; Culex pipiens - the House Mosquito and Culex salinarius - the Unbanded
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