The family of mosquitoes, or culicidae, has more than 3000 species, 70 of which are widespread in Italy. Not all of them bite the man, among these those that mainly disturb our summer are the common mosquito and the tiger mosquito. Let’s see in detail some of their characteristics.
The activity of the common mosquito (Culex Pipens) starts mainly at dusk and then continues during the night and early morning hours. This behavior is due to the structure of its body, which causes dehydration when exposed to great heat. Culex Pipiens therefore prefers the less hot hours of the day and commonly takes refuge in shady and cool places, often among the vegetation or in natural cavities. Usually it flies up to 3 or 4 meters high.
It is the females of mosquitoes that sting; they are attracted by the smell of the body and especially by the carbon dioxide emitted during the breathing of warm-blooded animals. It is precisely for this reason that on summer nights they come buzzing close to our face and ears. The mosquito stings by introducing an anticoagulant saliva that facilitates the sucking of the victim’s blood.
The ideal habitat for laying eggs are the stagnant water deposits, e.g. gutters, drainpipes, manholes and planter saucers.
The common mosquito is responsible for the transmission of the West Nile virus, a disease that is generally not serious, but which can have serious consequences in weak or elderly people.
It is not an autochthonous mosquito, but has been present in our territory for some years now, and can be recognized by its showy black and white “tiger”.
Aedes albopictus is native to tropical and subtropical areas, where it is active all year round, but over the years it has adapted successfully even to colder regions like ours, where it is present only in summer.
Unlike the common mosquito, it moves during the day and is active from early morning until the afternoon.
Recent studies have shown that the tiger mosquito is capable of moving hundreds of metres, even up to almost a kilometre.
On the contrary, its vertical flight capacity is very reduced, as it does not exceed one and a half metres in height.
As for the simple mosquito, also in this case the water deposits are to be avoided, because they represent the preferred habitat of reproduction.
The tiger mosquito carries the Chikungunya virus, a rather serious virus that in 2005/2006 was responsible for an epidemic on the French island of Réunion, where more than 260,000 people were estimated to be infected and 248 dead. It is a rare disease in Italy, although the first epidemic in Europe occurred in 2007 right here, in the province of Ravenna, when more than 200 people were infected.