Mosquitoes are almost nowhere to be found in the winter time. Where do they go during winter and do they come back the next year? One thing is for sure, the lifespan of a mosquito is long enough for them to survive the cold winter season. They are cold-blooded insects that go in hibernation mode when things get too cold outside. At around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celcius) things start to get a little too cold for our blood-sucking friends. It’s during the time when the winter freeze sets in, that the real survival struggle begins.
The last summer heat goes away and the leaves begin to change colors. Winter is coming. But where do all the insects go? Will mosquitoes survive the snow and cold? Do they put little ice-skates on their tiny feet and enjoy the winter times? I’ve always wondered what happens to mosquitoes during the cold winter period. Let’s find out where they go and see if there is anything we can do to fight them in the coldest season of the year.
Do Mosquitoes Go Away In The Winter?
The notion that mosquitoes will ‘go away’ is based on the temporary absence of insects in the winter time. They hibernate when temperatures drop below 50ºF (10ºC). In winter, mosquito bodies shut down, similar to other animals that go into winter hibernation. There are some mosquito species that die in fall but have winter-proof eggs.
The hibernation process (“diapause“) comes natural to mosquitoes since they are cold-blooded creatures. The ideal temperatures for a mosquito are above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly 27ºC). But they are also able to be active in the colder zone, all the way down to a temperature of 50ºF. The adult mosquitoes will look for a warmer location during this transition period within the fall. They will use the late summer days to their advantage, in order to prepare for winter.
It is not impossible to see mosquitoes very late into the fall season, especially when the weather is relatively calm. Climate change can confuse the colder post-summer months into making them somewhat warmer, shaking up entire ecosystems and making mosquitoes active for longer periods of time. This will only increase in specific regions (especially cold ones) as the threat of climate change becomes more and more persistent.
Where Mosquitoes Hibernate In The Winter
Most female mosquitoes will attempt to bury themselves into relatively warm holes (in their natural habitat), or crawl inside the walls of houses. They hibernate in locations that are warmer to increase their odds of survival in the winter time. Hibernation happens at temperatures permanently below 50ºF (10ºC).
Mosquitoes generally won’t do any housing damage, because the females are solitary creatures that can fit into really tiny spaces. Other females will lay eggs, of which the embryo is able to withstand freezing temperatures. When the spring comes back, the embryo’s come out of their protective shell and will develop into adults.
There are actually quite a few different places for hibernation of mosquitoes. For your convenience, here is a list of the most common locations you would find a hibernating mosquito:
- Eggs and embryos hibernate in water;
- Adults hibernate in holes in walls and the ground;
- They are often found in logs of trees;
Fun fact: In much colder regions (such as the Arctic) the hibernation process called diapause occurs twice per year. This makes it possible for them to live in remote area’s, but also makes them less dangerous in the Arctic as well. Because the reproduction period is much shorter, the odds of getting stung in the Arctic are much smaller. But when they do crawl out of hibernation, you better protect yourself well.
Why Do Mosquitoes Disappear In Winter Time?
The main reason mosquitoes disappear during winter, is the fact they are cold-blooded insects. Their body stops functioning below a certain temperature, making the time they can be active during the year limited. During winter, some mosquito species will lay eggs, which lay dormant until winter is over.
Despite the fact that the majority of regions on Earth will have a lack of mosquitoes in winter time, there are also regions that have mosquitoes year-round. These are regions with very stable temperatures year-round, which are often found nearer to the equator. It’s true that these are also the regions that will be less likely to see mosquitoes or other insects disappear in certain seasons of the year.
As said before in this article, during colder periods you’ll find mosquitoes start to shut down and go into hibernation mode. This is a different type of hibernation than you would know from e.g. a bear. It’s called diapause, and can happen more than once in a year. It’s a period of “suspended development“, and not really a type of sleep or a total shutdown of the body.
Interesting enough, not only colder seasons see a diapause in insects, but also a very dry or hot period can result in this unique hibernation mode. So if you’ll experience extensive droughts or heatwaves, it will also be a time where mosquitoes are much less active overall. That’s good to know when you want to get some cool nights during a heatwave.
Can You Get Bit By A Mosquito In The Winter?
Yes, you can get bit by a mosquito if it happens to make its way into your house before the hibernation process kicks in. A female mosquito can survive up to 6 to 8 weeks indoors, making it possible for you to get bitten in the winter as well. However, the likelihood of a bite is much lower during winter time.
Winter activity is not uncommon for insects, but for most mosquito species it really is all about the climate conditions. Colder locations will see a shorter period of activity, making it less likely for most mosquitoes to survive all the way into the winter. But in the south, you’ll be able to find a mosquito in your house year-round, making it much more likely for you to get bitten in winter time.
Once you start thinking about this question, it actually makes sense: Whereas most mosquitoes will just hibernate (or die), your cute little pet mosquito friends will hang around for much longer. We’ve all had some mosquitoes in the living room that dance around in the evening, regardless of the season and weather.
Outside is a whole different story, since the elements will definitely influence the mosquito activity a lot. Hot summer days are the peak of mosquito activity by far. But some regions might see them during the entire year. It all depends on the climate you live in, as well as the weather conditions that might be ‘the theme of the season’ at that time.
When Are Mosquitoes Back Out?
While the winter time is a period without mosquitoes, they tend to come back out quickly when the temperatures start rising above 50ºF. While Florida might see mosquitoes year-round, Alaska would only see mosquitoes back out briefly in July. On average, spring is the season where most mosquitoes start coming back (around March-April).
If you want to beat them to it, investing in some decent mosquito repellents beforehand might be a good idea. Do pay attention though, when shopping around for solutions. There’s a LOT of shitty mosquito repellents out there, who just want to give you the feeling of a solution. Point in case being those annoying app-based repellent sounds, Skin So Soft bath oil, or other not so effective but massively popular anti-mosquito products.
If you’d like a good overview of highly effective solutions against mosquitoes and mosquito bites, make sure to check out this overview page. It will give you a broad choice of products that I’ve personally tested and reviewed. The battle with mosquitoes is a year-round one, so make it count while you can!