Mosquitoes Live Long Enough to Make You Miserable — Just How Long Is That?


Aug. 11 2023, Published 11:52 a.m. ET

Young woman in yellow shirt rubbing mosquito bites
Source: iStock

Ask anyone who loves spending time outdoors in the summer about the worst problem, and you'll probably get a few who name mosquitoes. We'd all love to get rid of mosquitoes due to their painful and annoying bites that can transmit diseases like malaria.

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Despite the nuisance they present to people, mosquitoes are important to the ecosystem. So how long do mosquitoes actually live? Here's a guide to a mosquito's life cycle and what you can do about them in your yard and home.

older male in checked shirt about to slap a mosquito
Source: iStock
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How long do mosquitoes usually live?

A mosquito's life span varies based on the species of mosquito and how successful humans and animals are at avoiding mosquito bites. According to the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA), most adult female mosquitoes can live two to three weeks. However, some mosquitoes can live for months if they find shelter in the winter.

Vector Disease Control International (VDCI) explains that adult mosquito mortality rates are high, with up to 30 percent of adult populations dying daily. Male mosquitoes live an average of six to seven days, and female mosquitoes live an average of about six weeks. VDCI also notes that the females can live for five months or more with enough food.

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Do mosquitoes die after they bite you?

One popular myth about mosquitoes is that they die once they've sunk their mouth parts into your skin. Unlike a honeybee, a mosquito doesn't sacrifice its life for a single bite. According to Mosquito Squad, mosquitoes have mouths made for continuous feeding, so they don't automatically die after biting you.

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Do mosquitoes bite dogs?

As the AMCA explains, only female mosquitoes bite people; they prefer horses, cattle, smaller mammals, and even birds. And yes, mosquitoes bite dogs, so you must consider your dog and yourself when spending time outdoors. According to Veterinary Emergency Group, dogs can experience the same itching and swelling from mosquito bites that humans do.

Possible risks to dogs bitten by mosquitoes include heartworm, West Nile Virus, and allergic reactions. Regular heartworm protection on your dog is important, and trying to keep your yard free of mosquitoes by eliminating standing water, which is mosquito breeding grounds.

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What blood type do mosquitoes like the best?

If you've suffered as someone covered in red welts after five minutes outside, you've probably questioned why others can be in the same place and not get bitten. So is there a favorite blood type for mosquitoes? According to Pfizer, how appealing you are to mosquitoes may depend more on your genes and your natural body's scent than blood type, though one study in 2019 showed the insects preferred type O.

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Rather than depending on blood type, mosquitoes use antennae and palps to detect carbon dioxide and odor, per Pfizer. Mosquitoes' detection abilities may explain why "people who have a high metabolic rate and emit more carbon dioxide, including those who are pregnant, working out, or drinking alcohol tend to be more attractive to mosquitoes."

According to the AMCA, several factors influence how much mosquitoes bite certain people, but carbon dioxide is a big one, as mosquitoes may detect it from 35 meters away. Wearing perfumes and drinking beer are two behaviors that tend to cause more biting to occur.

If you want to keep the mosquitoes away, try a few safe and effective DIY ways to repel them, including using essential oils or vinegar.

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