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  Education > All About Wetlands > Wetlands and Mosquitoes
 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mosquitos

NOTE: This information should be used as a guide only.

Do Schoolyard Wetland Habitats breed mosquitoes?

Mosquitos provide an important food source for a wide range of creatures such as fish, turtles, frogs, birds and bats, in addition to pollinating flowers. In fact, mosquitoes are rarely a problem in a body of water that also contains fish. Problems with mosquitoes arise when they are allowed to breed in temporary pools of water lacking larval predators, i.e. old cans and buckets. A well functioning schoolyard wetland habitat will likely be home to a variety of the mosquito’s natural predators creating an environment where one is less likely to be bitten than is the case outside of the school grounds.

In fact, schoolyard habitats could be perceived as a better method of insect control than traditional lawncare treatments. Many pesticides kill multiple insects and other organisms. This includes natural predators of mosquitoes as well as butterflies, ladybugs, and other insects that pollinate flowers, digest feces, remove detritus from the ecosystem, and otherwise make life on earth livable.

Although mosquitos can transmit disease to humans, they are primarily an annoyance. Personal protection such as long clothing and repellant can protect a person from the itching bites of a mosquito. People should remember that mosquitos, and other insects, are an important part of the ecosystem. In his book The Diversity of Life, renowned entomologist Edward O. Wilson discusses the necessity of insects and land-dwelling arthropods, saying that "if [they] all were to disappear, humanity probably could not last more than a few months." Most other life forms, like amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals would also become extinct because of the domino effect that would occur in the food chain.

What are the facts about West Nile Virus?

Q. If I live in an area where birds or mosquitoes with West Nile Virus have been reported and a mosquito bites me, am I likely to get sick?
A. No. Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Even if the mosquito is infected, less that 1% of people who get bitten and become infected will get severely ill. The chances you will become severely ill from any one-mosquito bite are extremely small.

Q. Can you get West Nile encephalitis from another person?
A. No. West Nile encephalitis is NOT transmitted from person to person. For example, you cannot get West Nile virus from touching or kissing a person who has the disease, or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease.

Q. What proportion of people with severe illness due to West Nile virus die?
A. Among those with severe illness due to West Nile virus, case fatality rates range from 3% to 15% and are highest among the elderly. Less than 1% of persons infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness.

Q. What are the symptoms of West Nile virus?
A. Most infections are mild, and symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands. More sever infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and, rarely, death.

Q. What is the incubation period in humans (i.e., time from infection to onset of disease symptoms) for West Nile encephalitis?
A. Usually 3 to 15 days.

Q. How long do symptoms last?
A. Symptoms of mild disease will generally last a few days. Symptoms of severe disease may last several weeks, although neurological effects may be permanent

 

 

Mosquito Life Cycle

LINKS:

  • Maryland Department of Agriculture: Mosquito Control webpage

  • EPA Fact Sheet: Wetlands & West Nile Virus (pdf)

  • Society for Wetland Scientists White Paper: Current Practices in Wetland Management for Mosquito Control (pdf)

  • Indiana Department of Natural Resources Fact Sheet: Did You Know? ... Healthy Wetlands Devour Mosquitoes (pdf)