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BACKYARD MOSQUITOES – HOW FAR CAN THEY FLY?

Species of mosquito typically found in Australian backyards have been shown to have relatively short flying distances. 

Broadly speaking, there are two types of mosquitoes of concern in Australia: saltwater mosquitoes, which breed in estuarine and brackish water; and container mosquitoes, species that breed in small, often temporary bodies of water. A key part of mosquito management concerns eliminating breeding sites. When it comes to saltwater mosquitoes, there is little a homeowner can do. However, when it comes to container-breeding species, elimination of breeding sites around their property can have a big impact on mosquito numbers. The main reason for this comes down to the distance they can fly.

Saltwater mosquitoes are strong flyers, often capable of flying several kilometres. As such, homeowners have little hope of controlling their breeding sites and it is government mosquito control programs that target these species. However, many of the pest mosquitoes found around homes and businesses are container-breeding species and they are far weaker flyers.

Not surprisingly there have been many studies over the years looking at mosquito movement and flight range, particularly of Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, which can also spread other diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika. Researchers have just completed a meta-analysis of these studies to provide more definitive information.

Pooling data from 27 studies, the researchers determined that the average distance Aedes aegypti flies from their breeding sites was 106 metres. Interestingly, climatic conditions (wet or dry) appeared to make no difference to flight distance, but they did find mosquitoes flying in the morning travelled about 90 metres further than mosquitoes released at night.

This short flying distance of a key container-breeding mosquito confirms that the strategy of elimination of breeding sites around human habitation should have a significant impact on mosquito numbers.

 

Further reading: Estimating Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) Flight Distance: Meta-Data Analysis Thomas C Moore, Heidi E Brown. Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 59, Issue 4, July 2022, Pages 1164–1170, https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjac070