Mosquito Information
Mosquito Biology
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 Saltmarsh Mosquito.

[ Return to Mosquito Information ]