Only some like it hot
Mosquitoes thrive in warm conditions. The larvae develop in summer months, although in tropical areas it can be warm enough for a year-round season.
Mosquitoes are incredibly sensitive to the environment. The developing larvae can easily be killed off if they are subjected to cold or dry conditions at the wrong time. But according to Dr Cameron Webb, a medical entomologist from Sydney University, we shouldn’t underestimate the not-so-humble mozzie. “I’ve been standing out in the Victorian coastal wetlands in a thick parka and freezing weather and still been bitten,” he reveals. “Mosquitoes are highly specialised creatures and different species have evolved to master different environmental niches.”
Some mosquitoes prefer to live in cold climates, and thrive there, too. Mosquitoes near alpine and other cooler regions might reproduce a little more slowly than others but compensate for this by being abundant in number. “They might have fewer generations each year but there are so many of them that their survival in extreme climates is guaranteed,” says Dr Webb. “Plus, even their eggs survive the depths of winter buried underneath the snow in alpine regions or in freezing coastal wetlands.”
Do you mostly get bitten on your hands and feet, or underarms and hip? Different mosquitoes prefer different smells from different parts of the body.
Water, water everywhere
Whatever the body of water, from salty rockpools, mangroves, and rivers, to dirty septic tanks, polluted drains and backed-up gutters, with the exception of the open ocean, a mosquito will have tracked it down and made a nursery for the next generation. That’s because they need water for their survival, spending the entire first half of their short life in aquatic environments.
Just the sheer amount of water that comes with summertime wet seasons makes it a boon time for mozzie populations. But as a highly adaptable bunch of little critters, some mozzies prefer their homes to fill with water and then dry out, which takes away the threat of predators, such as fish, while their eggs can happily wait in the mud for the next input.
And then there are those that go crazy after extreme weather events. Big tides up and down coastal regions pretty much ensure an outbreak of mosquito-borne diseases every time they occur. Flooding after heavy rains also provide ideal conditions for the resilient local residents, whose eggs have been waiting patiently for even as much as a decade between big weather events to take advantage of the water and, 10 days later, cause a population explosion. This was the case in Victoria in 2017 when an outbreak of Ross River virus ocurred across the state, particularly around the Murray Darling basin, on the backs of enormous floods that summer.