How Do Mosquitos Survive the Long Wenatchee Winters?
I moved to Wenatchee in the late 2000's. One of the first thing I noticed was the lack of mosquitos. "Oh, I could live in a place like this!"
The idea of going outside and not getting feasted upon took a rude turn last summer. Especially when I was on the Wenatchee Loop Trail or hanging out at Walla Walla Point Park.
What was the deal last Summer? Why did we get such a huge influx of mosquitos?
The Chelan County PUD told KPQ last Summer that a delayed "runoff" on the Columbia River and a "delayed start to summer" caused an ideal habitat for those blood sucking mosquitos.
So how do Mosquitos survive the long cold winter months in Wenatchee?
Mosquitos are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperature is the same as the temperature of their surroundings. Like snakes, they are unable to regulate their body heat. The ideal temperature for mosquitoes to function is at 80 degrees F (or just over 26 Celcius) , and they become lethargic at 60 degrees F (just over 15 C), while they cannot function below 50 degrees F (10 C). In more tropical areas, mosquitos are active all year round. However, in temperate climates, adult mosquitos of some species become inactive as the weather cools down and enter hibernation to survive the winter.
Certain species of mosquitos have winter-hardy eggs that hibernate as embryos in eggs laid by the last generation of females in late summer/early fall. These eggs are usually placed under ice and hatch in spring when the water temperature rises. On the other hand, some species overwinter as adult females that mate in the fall, enter hibernation in hollow logs, or basements, and pass the winter in a state of torpor. These are the mosquitos that you'll see on a temporary warm January or February day.
In the spring, the females emerge from hibernation, looking for blood and lay eggs that produce the next generation of adults. A small number of mosquitos survive our cold Wenatchee winter in the larval stage. They are often buried in the mud of freshwater swamps of the Confluence State Park or the Horan Natural Area. When temperatures rise in the spring, months, these mosquitos begin feeding on human body parts or other mammals to complete their immature growth.
Those that survive, eventually emerge as adults to continue their life cycle - buzzing around our heads in the warm Wenatchee summer evenings.
INFO SOURCE: KPQ.com, cmmcp.org
LOOK: 20 of the strangest natural phenomena in America
Gallery Credit: Martha Sandoval