The Dangers of Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are carriers of potentially life-threatening diseases. Because these blood-sucking pests cannot be eradicated completely, the most effective way to avoid mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid getting bitten.

In this article, we discuss the common types of mosquitoes in Australia, the major diseases caused by a bite from a mosquito and what you can do to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your home.

Common types of mosquitoes

There are thousands of species of mosquitoes. However, there are only a few species that causes problems to the publics. These are the species that are targeted by Queensland’s mosquito control program:

  • saltmarsh mosquitoes (Aedes vigilax)
  • freshwater-breeding mosquitoes (Culex annulirostris)
  • container-breeding mosquitoes (Aedes notoscriptus)

Saltmarsh Mosquitoes

The females of this species lay their eggs in saltmarsh and mangrove habitats. In Brisbane, these areas include Pine River in the north all the way to Tingalpa Creek in the south. These mosquitoes are also prevalent in Boondall Wetlands and Tinchi Tamba Wetlands.

The saltmarsh mosquitoes can be a major problem during periods of low rainfall as the eggs tend to hatch in large numbers following a period of drying out. The hatching is triggered by events such as heavy rain or high tide.

The females bite aggressively, which is a serious concern because their bites can transmit Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses.

Freshwater-breeding Mosquitoes

The common banded mosquito, the most plentiful freshwater mosquito in South East Queensland, breed in shallow freshwater pools, grassy drains and depressions, and rural suburbs with open spaces.

These species carry the Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses as well as heartworm, which can infect cats and dogs.

Container-breeding Mosquitoes

The common backyard mosquito, or container-breeding mosquito, will be able to find their ideal habitats in any Brisbane residence.

They lay their eggs in natural containers like tree cavities and bromeliads, and man-made containers like pot plant saucers, birth baths, discarded tyres, garden trash and gutters. These mosquitoes can also breed in unmaintained, unchlorinated pools and neglected rainwater tanks.

Container-breeding mosquitoes like the Dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) are, thankfully, not present in Brisbane and throughout Australia. These harmful species are being kept out through the various mosquito programs in Brisbane, and in all of Australia.

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When is mosquito season in Australia?

Mosquitoes are most active during the summer months. However, breeding starts during spring and autumn. Depending on your location, for example, in the northern parts of Australia, mosquitoes are active throughout the year.

It is also possible for mosquitoes to begin popping up earlier than usual if, for example, the larvae are in diapause, a period of suspended development in their life cycle.

In general, the extent of a mosquito infestation can be influenced by a several conditions, including heavy rainfall or flooding during spring, followed by high temperatures. This creates the ideal conditions for mosquito attacks, especially in the coastal areas.

What are mosquito-borne diseases?

Mosquitoes are known as notorious killers, responsible for killing millions of people in the past and until today. One bite can transmit viruses to people that can cause severe illnesses. These illnesses are:

Barmah Forest virus

This disease is transmitted by mosquitoes from animals to humans. It only occurs in Australia, particularly around inland waterways and coastal regions. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, tiredness, joint pains, swollen joints, muscle tenderness, rashes and swollen lymph glands. Fortunately, people who contract this disease can recover.

Chikungunya Virus

The virus is carried by an infected female Aedes mosquito, the same species that carries the viruses that cause dengue, yellow fever, and Zika virus. It is prevalent in Africa, Asia and the Western Pacific.

The mosquitoes in Australia are not infected with the Chikungunya virus, though there are Aedes mosquitoes in north Queensland, the Torres Strait, and some area in central and southern Queensland. The common symptoms are joint pain and fever that may last for a couple of weeks and then disappears altogether without treatment.

Dengue fever

Dengue is similar to a serious case of the flu. It mostly occurs in tropical and sub-tropical countries such as Africa, Asia and South America.

Australia doesn’t have the mosquito that carries this virus, but outbreaks occur in North Queensland every year because of a person who contracts the virus while travelling abroad, who is then bitten by a mosquito here and that mosquito becomes infected and bites others.

The common symptoms of dengue fever are fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, swollen glands, bleeding nose or gums and rash. Most people with dengue fever recover in a week, but the illness can sometimes develop into serious and/or fatal one.


Also known as lymphatic filariasis, elephantiasis affects the lymph system and can cause arms and legs to swell, and the skin to turn hard and thick like an elephant’s. It is common in tropical areas, affecting mostly low-income people. The disease doesn’t occur in Australia.


Malaria is contracted by a mosquito that is infected by parasites in the plasmodium family. Symptoms include fever, excessive sweating, headaches, aching joints, nausea or stomach ache, and diarrhea or vomiting. Malaria can be fatal if not treated properly.

Murray Valley Encephalitis

This disease is serious but rare. It occurs mostly in northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. Many people exhibit no symptoms, but some may experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Murray Valley encephalitis can lead to death in a small number of people.

Ross River Virus

Ross River Virus occurs throughout Australia, but is more common in the tropical areas of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is more likely to occur between February and May, particularly following a severe rainfall or high tides.

An infected person may have joint pain, fever and rash. The illness disappears in a few weeks, but symptoms may persist for months.

Yellow Fever

Yellow can become severe with bleeding from the organs and even death. It is called yellow fever because the patient can sometimes turn yellow (jaundice). There has been no case of yellow fever in Australia. However, you need to be vaccinated if you plan to travel in some parts of Africa, Central or South America.

Symptoms, which can appear 3 to 6 days after being bitten by a mosquito, include fever, chills, body aches, back pain, vomiting, nausea, severe headache, fatigue and weakness. Severe symptoms include high fever, jaundice, bleeding, shock and organ failure.

Zika virus

Zika virus can be transmitted through a mosquito bite or sexually. Most people who are infected with Zika virus don’t experience symptoms. It is rare for the patient to feel flu-like symptoms, such as fever, severe headache, joint pain, pink eye and muscle or bone pain.

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How can you prevent mosquitoes at home?

Local councils have instituted programs that are designed to control the population of mosquitoes and midges. However, residents also bear responsibilities in making sure to prevent a mosquito infestation in their homes.

Water in important in a mosquito’s breeding cycle. Residents can, therefore, do something in reducing mosquito population. One of the simplest ways is to not allow water to pool in their homes and gardens.

Here are some more mosquito prevention measures:

  • Empty standing water in containers such as pet drinking bowls, bird baths, old tyres, buckets).
  • Tyres that are used as swings should have holes in them to allow water to drain.
  • Drain temporary pools and tree hallows or fill them with dirt or sand.
  • Keep up with swimming pool maintenance by having them treated and always circulating.
  • Unclog rain gutters.
  • Don’t plant water-retaining plants, such as bromeliads, in your garden.
  • Get rid of palm fronds and other vegetation from your garden.
  • If you have boats or dinghies, overturn them when not in use or remove their drain plug.
  • Put a screen, like a wire mesh, in all openings to large water containers like tanks and wells.

What are Examples of Natural Mosquito Repellents?

Studies show that certain people are attractive to mosquitoes due to a combination of factors such as scent, light, heat and humidity. As discussed above, mosquitoes are vectors of various diseases. If you choose to avoid chemical-based mosquito repellents, there are natural products that you can use.

Here are some natural repellents that are effective against mosquito bites:

  • Lemon eucalyptus oil
  • Crushed lavender flowers
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Greek catmint oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Citronella
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Geraniol
  • Neem Oil

If even the above are natural ingredients, there are still potential risk in using essential oil to prevent mosquito bites. Never put essential oil directly on your skin. These oils should always be diluted in a carrier oil, like almond oil, to prevent a possible allergic reaction.

Essential oils are also not regulated, so make sure that you are purchasing only from reputable shops.

What to do with a mosquito infestation?

If you are dealing with a severe mosquito infestation, which means bug sprays are no longer effective, it is time to call in a professional pest control expert. They provide inspection and infestation treatment services as well as install protection systems in your home and place of business to prevent the recurrence of infestations.

Residential pest control specialists have the experience and tools to eliminate a mosquito infestation and help keep your family and employees safe from diseases.

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