News25 Investigates


25 Investigates: Popular mosquito myths get busted

Posted at 10:01 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 23:01:24-04

This is the time of year we prepare to do battle with one of nature's most persistent pests, the mosquito.

Why such a big fuss? Because mosquitos carry and spread disease, and if there's anything we've learned over the past year, it's that we want to stop that if we can.

But first, we need to dispel a few myths.

A hard freeze just about guarantees a mosquito-free summer. You've probably heard that.

That's one myth we can bust right away, with the help of Eric and Sarah Burkham from Wisconsin. You know, the state that sits across Lake Superior from Canada.

They learned the hard way, that old saying about freezing weather getting rid of mosquitos is bunk.

"I went to a movie at the beach. Came back to my 45 bug bites or mosquito bites on one leg and 23 on the other one," said Eric.

It certainly suggests, that even in places with harsh winters, mosquitos find a way to survive.

In fact, they do, says Central Texas Mosquito expert David Litke, who manages the Environmental health division of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.

"Okay, now some mosquitos, the freeze got 'em, but that did not eliminate the entire population," said Litke.

He says some "skeeters" happen to end up in culverts or other protected spaces that help them survive even very cold winters.

Then there's the belief that mosquitos travel a good bit. After all, it seems like they're everywhere.

Another myth busted.

Mosquitos, especially the Culex, and Aides Egypti, barely ever leave the yard, or the land, where they're hatched.

"The mosquitos didn't come from across town. Culex is a very weak flyer. It stays within 150 feet of where it hatched out. 150 feet, that's not very far. The Aides mosquito a little farther. That's the neighborhood," said Litke.

This makes mosquito control one of the most local of all local problems and why city and public health leaders nag us about getting rid of standing water around our homes.

That brings us to another mosquito myth busted; that mosquitos need plenty of water to lay their eggs.

The fact is, they hardly need any at all.

Researchers say mosquitos love small bodies of still water for laying their eggs.

It doesn’t take much water either, as little as an ounce or so, giving one little puddle, some serious mosquito-breeding potential.

That's why you hear so much about getting rid of standing water in the spring and summer.

In the meantime, the Burkham's have perfected what they call, the "vampire slap."

"I just slap them when I find them. Yeah, that's probably your best defense, isn't it? I want my blood in me, not in you!" said Eric.

Exactly why experts call them a health risk and why we shouldn't depend on old stories and hearsay when it comes to mosquito defense.