Mosquitoes are a native insect that require water in which to breed. Females lay eggs on the surface of the water or the water‘s edge. The eggs then hatch into larvae (wrigglers), which live under the surface of still water and breathe air through the surface. The larvae go through four stages before becoming pupae (tumblers), which again live under water, emerging from the water soon after as an adult. The cycle can take from 7 to 14 days.
Mosquitoes may carry viruses such as Ross River Fever and Barmah Forest Virus, which can cause illness with symptoms including tiredness, rash, fever, and sore and swollen joints. There is no specific treatment for these viruses so prevention depends on avoiding mosquito bites, especially in the summer and autumn months.
Protecting yourself from mosquitoes
- Wear light coloured, loose fitting clothes – long sleeved shirts, trousers, covered shoes and socks are preferable, clothing can be sprayed with mosquito repellent for further protection.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin areas (e.g. hands and back of neck).
- Use a repellent that contains DEET (diethyltoluamide), and re-apply repellent regularly. The NSW Health Department of Medical Entomology have ongoing research projects on the effectiveness of mosquito repellents. Research currently suggests that repellents containing DEET are still more effective than other products.
- Use mosquito bed-nets to keep out mosquitoes.
- Use mosquito coils and mats to kill adult mosquitoes.
- Cover chimney tops during summer months.
- Place fly screens on all doors and windows and keep them in good condition.
- Make sure window and door screens are closed tight, and
- Use citronella lanterns or candles if dining outside after dusk.
Avoid creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes
- Empty standing water from buckets, plastic covers, toys and pot plant trays in the house or garden.
- Refresh and maintain pet drinking bowls and bird baths regularly to avoid stagnant water accumulating.
- Drain or fill temporary pools and tree hollows with dirt or sand.
- Keep swimming pools treated and circulating.
- Keep rain gutters unclogged.
- Avoid using water retaining plants such as bromeliads in your garden. Where these plants are present, use a high pressure spray to kill larvae.
- Screen openings to tanks, wells or other large water containers with wire gauze no coarser than 1mm mesh. This prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs.
- Avoid planting thick vegetation near water sources such as a swimming pool or pond.
- Ensure your lawn is cut regularly.
- Avoid watering your garden around sunset, this is the time that mosquitos are most active, and will be attracted to humid areas.
- Keep fishponds stocked with fish to prevent mosquitoes breeding.
- Grow plants and herbs that have the potential to repel mosquitoes. These include:
- Basil, Marigold, Pennyroyal and Rue – planted in pots near doorways and windows. Leaves can also be rubbed onto the skin.
- Mint, lavender, onion and garlic – used in a spray from equal parts soaked in water for 24 hours.
- Pelargonium Citrosa (citrus geranium) – offers localised protection by releasing a citronella scent.
For a range of health information, go the NSW Health.