Biting Insects




Black Fly



Click on an insect for information


What are they?
Mosquitoes are biting insects which feed on blood - of all mammals - in order to reproduce. Only female mosquitoes 'bite', and within hours of a full blood meal, the female can lay as many as 300 eggs. With multiple species hatching on different timetables all season long, it's no wonder mosquitoes can be such a big problem for those of us trying to enjoy the outdoors.

While mosquitoes are able to survive on plant juices and nectar, the females require blood to develop eggs (with a few rare exceptions).

Humans are not the mosquito's first choice for a blood meal. In fact, more than half of all mosquito species prefer to get their blood meal from birds, and large mammals and rodents are their second choice. If humans are bitten, it is likely that the preferred hosts are not immediately available.

The mosquito's mouth is made up of bristles and tubes. The bristles first poke a tiny hole in the skin and then two tubes are inserted into the hole. Saliva flows through one tube and the blood is sucked up through the other. The saliva has an anticoagulant that allows the blood to flow easily up through the tube. The proteins contained in the saliva and left behind in the host are what causes the skin to itch.

Where are they found?
Mosquitoes are widely distributed throughout North America. Depending on where you live, they can be a problem all year round - even in more northern regions, that can be a big problem from early spring to late fall, depending on the weather.

Mosquitoes are attracted to humans by CO2 (carbon dioxide), which they can detect from up to 6 meters away. Then, in order to determine the CO2 (carbon dioxide) isn't something like a car or smokestack, the mosquito identifies secondary attractants like heat, lactic acid or water vapor. These are all produced by humans as a result of respiration and muscle activity, and are released into the air from human breath and skin.

Mosquitoes are sensitive to climate conditions such as heat and wind, so they are most often active at dawn and dusk. The timing of development of egg to adult is largely reliant on weather, other environmental factors, and the species type. For certain species mosquito eggs can survive in a dried state for as long as five years. Even after all that time, eggs can still develop into mosquitoes when development is triggered (by the right climate conditions).

Water is the most important determining factor in mosquito reproduction and population. As a rule, the wetter the spring in your area, the more mosquitoes you'll end up with. Most mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in wet earth or still or stagnant water. Around the home, any container that can hold or collect as little as a teaspoon of water is a potential breeding site. Used tires, holds in trees, children's wading pools, cans, bird baths, plant saucers and bottle caps are possible breeding sites. In hot summer months with sufficient rainfall, eggs in these containers hatch quickly and can go from egg to adult mosquito in less than 6 days.

Why are they a problem?
Not only are mosquitoes annoying (that little buzzing in your ear that won't go away!), their bites can be very itchy, and some people have a more serious allergic reaction to mosquito bites. But mosquitoes can transmit more serious illnesses, too.

Many species of mosquitoes prefer to get blood from a narrow range of hosts, such as birds or wild animals, However, other species will feed on birds, wild animals, and humans. It is this cross-over feeding behavior that is responsible for the spread of certain diseases. For example, Culex tarsalis (also known as the encephalitis mosquito), will carry the encephalitis virus after biting an infected bird (one strain of encephalitis is found in certain bird species) and then pass this virus along to every human it bites in its lifetime.

Mosquitoes and disease
The primary mosquito-transmitted diseases are malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever, and encephalitis.

Malaria and yellow fever are essentially tropical diseases, and Canada does not offer the kind of climate required for these diseases to thrive.

Dengue fever is a viral infection that causes fever, chills, and skeletal pain. It is a serious problem in Southeast Asia, and, more recently in Latin America. It has been found as far north as Texas.

There are several varieties of mosquito which are considered to be particularly dangerous because of their role in transmitting disease. These include:

Yellow Fever Mosquito, responsible for transmitting yellow fever. This mosquito lives in Mexico, Brazil and in the southern United States. It is not a concern for Canadians, however, because the yellow fever mosquito cannot survive in temperate climates.

Asian Tiger Mosquito, which is also responsible for transmitting yellow fever as well as Dengue. While it has been found as far north as New Jersey, it generally prefers a warmer climate.

Mosquitoes and AIDS
Even though the mosquito's feeding apparatus looks like a syringe, it actually operates very differently. In a mosquito, the food canal (to suck up the blood) is completely separate from the salivary canal (to send the anticoagulant from the mosquito to the host). This means that the blood flow is one-way, from the host to the mosquito.

Mosquitoes that ingest HIV-infected blood digest that blood within 1 or 2 days, completely destroying any virus particles. Since the virus does not survive to reproduce and invade the salivary glands, the mechanism that most mosquito-born parasites use to get from one host to the next is not possible with HIV.

Mosquitoes are pretty persistent bugs, but there are a lot of things you can do to make yourself less attractive to the average mosquito:

  • Reduce movement - studies have shown that movement can increase biting activity by up to 50%.
  • Wear white - mosquitoes prefer darker shades that radiate heat.
  • Don't use strong fragrances - heavily scented toiletries like soap and perfume, may attract mosquitoes.
  • Don't sweat it - sweat is a mosquito attractant and causes repellents to lose their effectiveness sooner. In hot and humid conditions, reapply repellent more often.
  • Use the right repellent - different products are used for different outdoor activities and for different biting intensities.
  • Stay inside at dawn and dusk - these are the times when mosquitoes are most active
  • Clean up the yard - mosquitoes will lay their eggs in virtually anything that will accumulate water, from carelessly discarded toys to an old tin can. Make sure your garden doesn't provide a mosquito breeding ground. Mosquitoes also love to hide in long, unkempt grass
  • Keep covered - when camping, make sure tents and sleeping bags have no small holes - mosquitoes have a knack for finding even the smallest openings.
  • Stay in the sun - mosquitoes prefer shady, windless areas. You can slow them down by staying in sunlight.

Click here to find out how to bug proof your back yard.

Prevention and Treatment
Use the Doktor Doom Residual Insecticide spray.

Of all the things bound to spoil our time outdoors and around the home, mosquitoes are the #1 culprits! Whether barbecuing, gardening, camping or, the number one leisure activity – walking, the places we like to do these activities are also usually the preferred habitat for mosquitoes – including our yards.

You can find these pesky critters basically anywhere! Mosquitoes are widely distributed throughout the U.S., including the dry states. In the Southern states, they can be a year-round concern, and even in the North, mosquitoes can wreak havoc from early spring to late fall.

Mosquitoes breed in swamps, ponds and debris that holds water, including tree hollows, tin cans, old tires and wading pools. Only female mosquitoes bite, and will find a host (usually birds, small mammals, horses and people) to extract a blood meal to nourish her eggs. Within hours of extracting a full blood meal, she flies off and lays her eggs - as many as 300 at a time for some species - and then again seeks hosts on which to feed. Eggs hatch into larvae that live in water and come up to the surface to breathe. Larvae develop into pupae in about 7-10 days. Pupae live and develop in the water from one day to a few weeks. Then the adult mosquito emerges.

With multiple species hatching timetables all season long it's no wonder mosquitoes are such a major disruption to our lives - without the right protection that is!

The mosquito life cycle can last as little as 20 days or as long as five years. The timing of development from egg to adult relies on weather, other environmental factors and the species type. For certain species, mosquito eggs can survive in a dried state for as long as five years. Even after all that time, eggs can still develop into mosquitoes when development is ultimately triggered by water.

Why Mosquitoes Like to Bite Us
Believe it or not - humans are not the mosquito's first choice for a blood meal! In fact, more than half of all mosquito species prefer to get their blood meal from birds. Humans come after larger mammals and rodents. If a mosquito chooses you as its target, it is likely that other preferred hosts are not immediately available.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a very important mosquito attractant given off by humans. The mosquito detects CO2 by means of sensitive receptors that can locate a human host from up to 20 feet away. The mosquito then identifies secondary attractants to ensure that the source of the carbon dioxide is a human and not something like a car or smokestack. These secondary attractants such as heat, lactic acid, and water vapor are a small sampling of literally hundreds of potential attractants critical to this identification. These are all produced by humans as a result of respiration and muscle activity, and exit the body through breath and the skin. So, if you breathe, you're a target!

Your Best Line of Defense…
Knowing and understanding mosquitoes' behavior and where they live (which is usually where you do) will make a big difference when it comes to avoiding getting bitten. To learn where you can spot prime mosquito hangouts in your own yard, be sure to check out how to "mosquito proof your yard"

Did You Know?

Peak mosquito activity is at dawn and dusk.

  • When a mosquito bites, saliva is injected into the victim to help extract the blood. This is what causes the itching sensation - and potential disease transmission.
  • The annoying mosquito whine is made by their wings, which beat up to 500 cycles a second, and allow them to fly up to 150 miles during their lifetime.
  • In one field study, the flight and biting activity of mosquitoes increased by more than 500 percent on nights with a full moon.
  • Protection from mosquitoes should not be left to chance.
  • Mosquitoes can carry the West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes are true survivalists. They've been spotted as high as 14,000 feet, and as low as 3,750 feet below sea level!

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FlyBLACK FLIES:           

What are they?
Like the mosquito, the black fly also has four life stages, egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The first three stages develop only in fast-flowing water.

Most of us think of black flies as one of the most annoying of the biting insects. However, depending on the geographical location, black flies may only be a problem for three or four weeks of every year - and some species of black fly don't even bite!

Where are they found?
They are found in rapids and even just below waterfalls. In the spring every spring and rivulet is a potential breeding place for black flies. Depending on the species and environment, the total length of time spent by a black fly in the water stages may be as short as two weeks or as long as several months. The adult emerges from the pupal skin, rises to the water surface and takes flight almost immediately. The adult black flies are small, stout-bodied, hump-backed flies with short, broad wings and short legs.

Why are they a problem?
Some species that seldom bite can be very annoying because of their habit of flying around the head and face. The life span of the adult black fly ranges from a few days to several weeks. For some species a second generation of black flies may develop in the early fall. The female starts looking for her blood meal approximately two weeks after emerging. Unlike the mosquito, the black fly bites only during the day. With humans, in addition to biting exposed areas, they also crawl through small openings in clothing. Although the actual bite may not be painful, swelling may occur later on and the area may remain sore and itchy for several days or even longer.

Prevention and Treatment
Use Doktor Doom Residual Insecticide Spray or Doctor Doom House and Garden Insecticide Spray.

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What are they?
icks are a biting insect similar to fleas. They are blood feeders, and are attracted to all mammals, including people and pets. Typically they will wait at ths top of a blade of grass or in low-lying foliage. When an animal or human comes along, they leap on to it for a meal. Usually, people and animals do not even notice that they have been bitten.

Where are they found?
They are found throughout North America.

Why are they a problem?
Ticks are responsible for the spread of Lyme Disease, which is the most serious insect arbovirus in the US. Since 1988, over 100,000 cases of Lyme disease have been reported in North America. Lyme disease is most often reported in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast United States, but has been reported throughout the US and in many parts of Canada.

A bite by an infected tick and can go totally unnoticed, and because the symptoms of Lyme disease mimic those of other illnesses like the common cold, the disease itself is often not accurately diagnosed in its early stages. Left alone, Lyme disease can cause the manifestation of many problems, including irregularities of heart rhythm, abnormalities of the nervous system, and arthritis.

Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics at both the early and later stages.

Prevention and treatment

Use Doktor Doom Residual Insecticide Spray or Doctor Doom House and Garden Insecticide Spray.

The best protection from ticks is to make sure they do not attach themselves to you or your pet. If you are walking in an area that is known for Lyme disease-carrying ticks, make sure your skin is covered, especially below the knee and between your pant-leg and shoes, where ticks commonly land.

Once you return home, examine your skin and your pet's fur for ticks. If you spot one, carefully remove it with tweezers, taking care to remove the whole tick.

For more information on Deer Ticks (Lyme Disease) click on the following links...
CDC Division on Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.
NASD Prevent Tick Bites: Prevent Lyme Disease.
American Lyme Disease
Foundation Inc

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