Frequently Asked Questions about Mosquitoes in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 305 South Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Are there different kinds of mosquitoes?
Yes. About 3000 different kinds (also called “species”) of mosquitoes have been identified worldwide, with more than 150 different kinds of mosquitoes found in North America. Fifty-one different kinds of mosquitoes have been found in Massachusetts.
Where are mosquitoes usually found?
Most adults spend the day in damp, shady areas where they can find protection from the sun; some of them will even hide in your house. Mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs in and plants to hide in so they are usually found around water and plants. Mosquito eggs are laid on water or damp soil where the young mosquitoes grow and develop. Different mosquitoes prefer different kinds of water. Some like swamps or ponds and others prefer water in swimming and wading pools, old tires, watering cans, flower pots, trash cans, etc. When the young mosquito turns into an adult, it leaves the water and flies away.
How long do mosquitoes live?
Most female mosquitoes live for less than 2 weeks and most male mosquitoes live for less than a week. However, when the conditions are right, some mosquitoes will live up to 8 weeks. The life cycle of all mosquitoes includes four different stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Adult mosquitoes are the only ones that fly.
Why do mosquitoes bite?
Only female mosquitoes bite to suck blood. The female uses the blood to make eggs. Male and female mosquitoes use plant nectars and fruit juices as their main source of food.
Do all female mosquitoes bite humans?
No. Different kinds of mosquitoes like different types of blood. Some mosquitoes feed on animals like frogs, turtles and birds. Other kinds bite mammals, including horses and humans. Some will bite both birds and mammals including humans. These mosquito species play an important role in spreading disease between birds and other mammals, including humans. Diseases that are usually found in birds can be transmitted to humans (and some other mammals, like horses) by mosquitoes that bite both birds and mammals.
When am I most likely to be bitten by a mosquito?
You can be bitten at any time. Different kinds of mosquitoes are active at different times of the day. Most mosquitoes are active from just before dusk, through the night until dawn.
Did you know? Some kinds of mosquitoes can fly 1.5 miles per hour!!
How does a mosquito find an animal or human to bite?
Female mosquitoes are attracted to the gas (carbon dioxide) that humans and other animals breathe
out. Mosquitoes can follow a stream of carbon dioxide from as far as 50 feet away. Mosquitoes are
also attracted to substances like lactic acid on your skin, which your body produces in greater amounts
when exercising. Mosquitoes may also be attracted to certain scents or fragrances and are more
attracted to dark colors than light colors.
Why are mosquito bites a concern?
Some mosquitoes carry germs that can make people and some animals sick. Mosquitoes can transmit
germs when they bite. In Massachusetts, the diseases linked to mosquitoes are West Nile virus (WNV)
and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus.
Do all mosquitoes spread germs to people?
No. In fact, most mosquito bites will only cause itching or skin irritation. However, some species
found in Massachusetts carry viruses that can cause illness.
Where can I get more information?
For information on diseases spread by mosquitoes and how to prevent them: call the MDPH,
Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at 617-983-6800 or visit the MDPH Arbovirus
website at http://www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito
For information on mosquito species found in Massachusetts visit the MDPH Arbovirus
website at http://www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito
For information on mosquito repellents: review the MDPH Public Health Fact Sheet on
Mosquito Repellents online at https://www.mass.gov/fact-sheets-on-infectious-diseases. If you
can’t go online, call the MDPH at (617) 983-6800 for a hard copy.
For information on mosquito control: The State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board
(SRMCB) within the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources oversees mosquito
control in Massachusetts (https://www.mass.gov/state-reclamation-and-mosquito-control-boardsrmcb).
The SRMCB can be contacted at 617-626-1723. There are nine established mosquito
control districts in the state that provide service to many cities and towns. Information for each
district can be found at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/srmcb-mosquito-control-projectsand-
For information about mosquito-borne disease and your community: call your local board of
health (listed in the telephone directory under local government).
This document was developed in conjunction with the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board
and the Massachusetts Mosquito Control Projects.
Updated February 2018