The Name "Mosquito"
The Spanish called mosquitoes "musketas," and the native Hispanic Americans called them "zancudos." "Mosquito" is a Spanish or Portuguese word meaning "little fly" while "zancudos," a Spanish word, means "long-legged." A mosquito, then, is just that, a small fly with long legs which it uses to attach itself to its food source.
The Adult Mosquito
Like all insects belonging to the True Flies, adult mosquitos have two wings. Upon emerging as an adult, both male and female mosquitoes seek nutrition from plant sugar sources. This is necessary to develop the body fat for both sexes to fulfill their role in mosquito reproduction.
Once a female has the nutrition she needs, she will then seek out a host for the blood meal necessary for her to lay eggs. A mosquito's principal food throughout their entire adult lifespan comes from plant sources. The Animas Valley is loaded with the plant life that provides the nourishment all mosquitoes seek.
Plant Food Supply
Current land use trends in the Animas Valley have enormously increased vegetation and are significantly increasing mosquito plant food sources. With this constant source of nutrition available, flourishing mosquitoes are actively breeding, and the females have the nourishment they need to then seek a blood meal host and begin laying eggs.
Seeking a Victim
The female mosquito will feed on the blood of anything from an amphibian, to a bird, a mammal, and all too often a human. Many species of mosquitoes are capable of transmitting diseases to humans and animals, which creates a significant health threat to the people, pets, livestock, and wildlife of the Animas Valley. Along with the rest of the world, the U.S. is experiencing an exponential increase in the occurrence of mosquito borne diseases.
The Next Generation
Depending on the mosquito specie, the female will choose an egg laying site and lay her eggs either in rafts or singly. Mosquito eggs hatch rapidly--within 24 to 48 hours--into larvae which mature through four stages of growth before pupating and then emerging as a flying adult mosquito.
A single female mosquito will lay 100 to 300 eggs each time she goes through her breeding cycle. The majority of mosquito species lay their eggs in water, which is also a major factor in the abundance of mosquito habitat in the Animas Valley with the current local emphasis on wetland expansion.
Mosquito eggs laid on dry ground can lay dormant for decades, accumulating until water presence and other conditions favor their hatching. In a study by the University of Colorado surveying mosquito egg accumulation in the soil, the Animas Valley was found to have significantly higher levels of mosquito eggs than any other location tested in the state with the highest concentration locally being found in the area now known as the Oxbow Park & Preserve.
At its larval stage of development, the key factor determining how quickly the mosquito matures is the temperature of the water. The warmer the water, the more actively the larvae feed, and the sooner they reach the pupae stage. The mosquito larvae is unique to other aquatic life in their developmental stages, in that it must rise to the surface to breathe through a tiny siphon tube. For 5 to 10 days the larvae will continually drop below the surface to feed on vegetation and rise again to breathe.
Shallow, warm water creates the ideal environment for their development. A single cow track of water can produce thousands of mosquitoes in a single season. Once the larvae is mature, it continues to develop through the pupae stage until it emerges as a flying adult mosquito immediately seeking to continue the reproductive cycle.
Breaking the Cycle
One female mosquito can be responsible for the reproduction of over 5 million mosquitoes in a single season. It is easy to see why mosquito borne disease is the greatest health threat to human life in parts of the world where mosquito populations are not controlled. At AMCD we make every effort to break the cycle of mosquito reproduction at the larval stage before they can become a disease threat as adult mosquitoes.
We use three different products depending on the conditions: either one of two long term products, placed early in the year to provide mosquito control throughout the season, or if mosquito larvae are already present we use mineral oil as a suffocant. In areas where we find adult populations we use an airborne product only at night when bees are not active. This service along with the concerted efforts of conscientious landowners can break the cycle of mosquito reproduction posing a public health risk to the residents of the Animas Valley.