Culex pipiens is known as the northern house mosquito and sometimes as the common house mosquito. They are the most common mosquito in the northern United States and the main carriers of the West Nile Virus in urban areas. They also transmit various types of encephalitis, such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) Filariasis (a type of roundworm), heartworm in dogs, Avian Malaria, and Rift Valley Fever. Culex quinquefasciatus, the southern house mosquito, is considered by many biologists to be the same species as Culex pipiens.
Culex pipiens survive throughout the winter in the adult stage. Depending on the temperature, they may go into a resting phase known as diapause, where they shut down their bodies to conserve energy and reemerge once temperatures warm. Culex pipiens overwinter in human dwellings staying in basements, garages and sheds to escape the cold. Culex pipiens are a hearty mosquito species and can, at times, lay their first round of spring eggs using the protein from a blood meal that they took in the early winter. If you find a mosquito in your home or garage on a warm day in December, it is probably a Culex pipiens.
Culex pipiens females can lay 150-300 eggs at a time in an “egg raft” that floats in the water. This particular species of mosquito likes to lay their eggs in polluted or foul water, such as areas like ditches, ground puddles, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, and bird feeders with standing water. They mainly bite at night, and their peak activity is 11 pm to midnight but will continue to feed through dawn. These mosquitoes can fly up to a mile to find a blood meal.
Culex pipiens feeds on birds and nestlings in spring but also will take blood meals from humans, dogs, and other animals. Evidence suggests that later in the season, the more dangerous these mosquitoes become towards humans. Since birds, their preferred source of food, begin to migrate in the late summer and fall, Culex pipiens will switch to biting humans. Thereby, diseases such as West Nile Virus, which are common in birds, can be transferred to humans.
To prevent bites from mosquitoes such as Culex pipiens and limit their spread of disease, people need to protect themselves. First, you should drain any standing water in your yard – both natural or artificial containers. Second, you should avoid going outside at dawn and especially dusk. Third, you should dress in long pants and long sleeve shirts and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes (mosquitoes like dark colors better and can bite more easily through tighter fitting clothing). Fourth, you should use insect repellant. You should choose from a product that has 20% DEET, Picardim IR3535, or an oil of lemon eucalyptus product. Finally, you should invest in an all-natural mosquito treatment by a qualified company such as Mosquito Musketeers for ongoing mosquito protection that does not hurt bees.