Tips for Recognizing and Preventing Mosquito Activity

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Provided by Prince William County

Every year, the Mosquito and Forest Pest Management Branch conducts site visits across the County in response to mosquito issues. Inevitably, a handful of these requests turn out to be cases of mistaken identity, where the perpetrators are in fact one of the many harmless insect species that resemble mosquitos.

Here are some tips to discern whether an insect is a mosquito:

Appearance: Mosquitos may vary in color and size; however, all mosquitos have a proboscis, an elongated, tube-like mouthpart. Mosquito wings are long and narrow, generally longer than their body. Both features separate mosquitos from their lookalikes.

Biting: Most mosquitos bite (but not all!). Scary clouds of insects, like midge mating swarms, may resemble mosquitos, but if they do not bite then they are best left alone.

Larval Habitat: Another indicator of mosquitos is their larval habitat. All mosquitos require standing water to reproduce in; some can use as little as a plastic water bottle cap. As individuals begin spring cleaning, it is important to keep an eye out for anything that can hold water, including planters, tarps, clogged gutters, bird baths, corrugated pipes, tires, etc.

Removing the breeding habitat is the best method to get rid of mosquitos around the home. Remember to regularly “tip n toss” anything that might hold water. For items like bird baths, dump and add new water regularly.

For more information, visit the Mosquito and Forest Pest Management webpage. To schedule a site visit, call 703-792-6279 or email


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