PMP interviews Culex pipiens mosquito

By |  May 24, 2017

Let’s discuss the sisterhood of the not-so-traveling mosquito.

Photo: Ary Farajollahi, Bugwood.org

Photo: Ary Farajollahi, Bugwood.org

Culex pipiens mosquito (CPM): [Yelling] Why can’t you help out every once in a while? I just gave birth to 300 babies, and all you want to do is fly around all night.

Pest Management Professional (PMP): [Carefully approaches a mud puddle in a dark alley after sunset] Um, excuse me? I have an appointment to interview you, but if now’s a bad time…

CPM: [Emerges from the puddle on the pavement] Oh, yes. Sorry. Men! Can’t live with ’em, good thing you get to live without ’em. Am I right, ladies? [A chorus of “Umm hmms” and “You better believe its” emerges from the darkness.]

PMP: Uh, that’s not how the saying goes…

CPM: It is if you’re a female mosquito. I live a nice long life — a few weeks to several months, if I’m lucky. But my male partners, well, they’ve only got a week. And thank goodness, because I’m telling you, sometimes they really get on my nerves!

Chorus of female mosquitoes (Chorus): Amen, sister!

PMP: Oh, why is that?

CPM: Well, they don’t do anything! All they want is sweets — nectar from flowers or other sugary liquids. I’m the one who has to venture out and bite birds or people. I’m risking my life out there, not them!

PMP: Do you mind if we move to where it’s not so wet?

CPM: Oh no, I love the water! It’s where I was born and it’s where I raise my hundreds of offspring.

PMP: Did you say hundreds? How many do you have?

CPM: Well, every three days I lay about 100 to 300 eggs. It’s a lot!

PMP: [Eyes widen] Where do you keep them all?

CPM: In the water, of course! When I lay my eggs at night, I stick them all together. Some say they look like a raft, floating on the surface of the water.

I love all my offspring equally. They’re so good to me, never traveling very far from where they hatched. My little wigglers, or larvae, live in the water from four to 14 days and my tumblers, or pupae, live in the water from one to four days, depending on how warm or cold the water is. It only takes about three days for the pupae to become adults. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

PMP: They probably want to get the heck out of here! This isn’t exactly a nice area.

CPM: Oh, I don’t care, as long as there’s water. We make ourselves at home in ponds, ditches, birdbaths, tree holes, ditches, buckets, storm drains, kiddie pools, flower pots, clogged gutters, junk laying around the yard. You know, we can make it work wherever water collects and yummy algae grows. Right, ladies?

Chorus: Uh huh! You bet!

PMP: Why not fly on over to the beautiful fountain in the center of town? It seems much nicer over there.

CPM: Are you crazy? Mosquitoes can’t survive where water is running! In fact, we won’t last long where water is changed in less than a week. That’s why you can find us in puddles and discarded junk like tires.

PMP: Oh, so if I just cleaned up around the yard and regularly changed the water in the birdbath, you would have no place to live?

CPM, Chorus: GASP!

PMP: I mean, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not very popular. You spread heartworm in dogs, malaria in birds and West Nile virus in people…

CPM: Oh I know. Even though I prefer birds to humans, sometimes you look so tasty! But at least I don’t transmit the Zika virus. Blame my cousins — Aedes aegypti and A. albopictus — not me.

PMP: Is that why you attack us?

CPM: A gal needs to eat! I don’t usually come out until dusk or after it gets dark. But I’m not shy; I just might follow you indoors. Sometimes, I’ll even hang out in your garage, basement or crawlspace all winter. But I won’t travel far from my home.

PMP: I suppose that’s why you’re known as the house mosquito?

Chorus: That’s right! You got it! [CPM smiles.]

Managing Editor Diane Sofranec can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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