Mosquito Larvae: What they look Like and How to Get Rid of Them
Mosquitoes may be tiny, but they only need one bite to spread various illnesses. Female mosquitoes are capable of laying 200 eggs at once and they can do this thrice throughout their lifespan of 1 to 2 months.
Removing standing water or possible breeding grounds can help eliminate mosquitoes. However, some species can live without water for a certain period. Moreover, mosquito eggs only need 1 inch of water to survive. Therefore, the most efficient and easiest way to kill mosquitoes is by eliminating them in their larval phase. This means that you only have up to 14 days to kill them. As such, you must work fast.
The Life Cycle of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes go through 4 different stages throughout their lives – eggs, larvae, pupa, and adult mosquitoes. The life cycle of a mosquito takes about 1 month. Here is what you need to know about each phase.
After eating a blood meal, female mosquitoes lay their eggs near or on damp soil or water. The eggs are either laid side by side or singly depending on the species of mosquito. They stick together to form a raft that floats on the surface of the water. A raft can have up to 400 eggs.
The eggs hatch within 1 week, becoming wigglers or mosquito larva. The larvae look like small hairy worms that are less than ¼" long. They have a soft body, a siphon tube at the top of their abdomen that is used for breathing underwater, and a hard round head. Their abdomen has 10 segments.
Wigglers live in water for 4-14 days depending on the temperature of the water. They hang upside-down near the surface of the water. Mosquito larvae need plenty of energy to grow, so they eat constantly. They consume various microorganisms such as fungi, plankton, and algae. Wigglers moult 4 times and they grow larger every time they moult.
After the final moult, the larva becomes a pupa. They are also called tumblers and they float near the surface of the water. The pupa does not moult or eat a blood meal. It breathes air and changes inside the cocoon or casing into an adult mosquito. Tumblers stay in the water for 1-4 days. It depends on the water temperature and species.
The pupa comes out of the cocoon as an adult mosquito. They rest on the surface of the water until their wings and body dry and harden. The lifespan of adult mosquitoes is only a few weeks. Although their lifespan is short, they can cause plenty of damage during that period. Mosquitoes can inflict painful bites when they are having a blood meal as well as potentially spread diseases.
Where Can You Find Mosquito Larvae?
If you want to get rid of mosquito larvae, you need to find them first. Adult female mosquitoes are capable of laying hundreds of eggs. But first, they need to locate a breeding ground that has enough resources for their eggs to grow and survive. The following sites have something in common, so check out these areas if you are looking for a mosquito larva.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. The eggs can hatch and become larvae even in the smallest amount of stagnant water like the water in tires and unattended buckets. Mosquitoes, however, prefer to stay as much as possible in ponds and lakes.
Soil and Floodwater
Some mosquito species like the Aedestaeniorhyncus lay their eggs on damp soil. The eggs can stay dormant until enough amount of water is provided to the breeding ground. You will usually find the eggs in the drainage system of buildings and homes.
Areas Where You Will Find Standing Water
When you are looking for mosquito larvae, you need to inspect your home and find any volume or size of standing water. It could be a clogged gutter or an unattended bucket of water. Wigglers can also live-in outdoor structures like fountains or pools.
Ways to Kill Mosquito Larvae in Different Parts of Your Property
You can get rid of mosquito larvae in different ways. The right solution will depend on the kind of standing water you are dealing with. Since every situation is different, it is best to look into the following scenarios so that you can find out the best way to rid your property of mosquito larvae:
Mosquito larvae can thrive in pools. And if you are currently dealing with a mosquito problem, you have a few options that you can use to get rid of them. Methoprene granules prevent wigglers from maturing into adult mosquitoes. It is a larvicide that contains an insect growth regulator or IGR. The effects of the larvicide can last for up to 4 weeks.
You can also use mosquito dunks or BTI dunks to get rid of mosquito larvae in the pool. Mosquito dunks are a larvicide that contains microorganisms, which cause gut poisoning in mosquito larvae. The effect of the larvicide can last for a month.
Another option is to mix bleach solution with the infested water. The bleach solution that you usually use to remove stains from your white clothes will work simply fine. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite, which can kill mosquito larvae. Simply add bleach (1 tablespoon) to 1 gallon of water and mix it with the water in your pool.
Lake or Pond
Mosquitoes love large bodies of standing water like lakes and ponds. You can use mosquito dunks because these are safe for wildlife and humans. Another option is to use a cinnamon oil solution, which is composed of 85 percent water and 15 percent cinnamon oil. Cinnamon oil contains cinnamyl acetate, cinnamaldehyde, anethole, and eugenol, which can kill mosquito larvae. The best thing about this solution is that it smells sweet and effectively eliminates the larvae problem in nearby lakes or ponds.
Water fountains are attractive to female mosquitoes as well. You can apply the solutions mentioned above for ponds, lakes, and pools to get rid of the larvae infestation in your water fountain. Cinnamon oil, Methoprene granules, bleach solution, and mosquito dunks can help solve your mosquito problem.
How to Eliminate Wigglers Naturally
The best time to eliminate mosquitoes is during their larval stage. If you do not want to use chemicals, you can apply the following solutions to get rid of your mosquito problem naturally:
Crush 3 to 5 garlic bulbs using your blender. Put the crushed garlic bulbs on a clean cloth then squeeze it over a container or bowl to extract the juice. Combine the juice with 1 gallon of water then mix it with standing water that is infested with wigglers. The solution will suffocate the larvae, thus killing them.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Another non-toxic solution that you can use to kill mosquito larvae is apple cider vinegar. It works like cinnamon oil – killing mosquitoes by preventing the larvae from maturing into adults. Simply mix apple cider (1 teaspoon) with 1 gallon of water then transfer the solution into a spray bottle. Mix the solution with the infested standing water or douse it around your yard.
Bleach tablets work like liquid bleach. It is a convenient way to get rid of mosquito larvae as it can help you save effort and time. You only need to add the right amount of bleach tablets to the infested water. The tablets will dissolve in water and kill the larvae hiding under the surface of the water.
Soap is toxic to mosquitoes and other animals. To make a DIY soap solution, add about 1 millilitre of dish soap to 1 gallon of water and apply it to the larvae-infested water. It can kill mosquito larvae within 1 day. You can also buy special soaps with insecticides from hardware stores if you are dealing with severe mosquito problems. But do not use soap in ponds or lakes as it can harm other living organisms as well.
Migratory songbirds, purple martins, waterfowl, and swallows are natural predators of mosquitoes. Bird predators normally consume both the larvae and adult mosquitoes, so find a way to attract them to your yard.
Use Cinnamon Oil
Oils such as olive oil and vegetable oil can kill mosquitoes as they coat the water surface. Wigglers have no gills, so they will suffocate if you apply oil to the infested water. However, you should not use this method anywhere with other living organisms like fish because it can harm them. Cinnamon oil also kills mosquito larvae, but it is safer for the environment compared to other kinds of oil. Aside from its pesticide properties, cinnamon oil also smells great.
Products we recommend for eliminating mosquitoes and mosquito larvae are:
Aside from ruining camping trips and BBQ parties in backyards, mosquitoes are also carriers of various diseases. That is, you need to get rid of them quickly. The most effective way to deal with mosquito problems is by eliminating their breeding grounds. Consider the options stated above to kill mosquito larvae efficiently and safely.