There is a common myth you may have heard stating that mosquitoes can’t fly higher than 25 feet from the ground. That, of course, is absurd and incorrect. Yet, it’s quite a prevalent myth, so much so that it likely brought a large number of you – our readers – to this article.
So, how high and far can mosquitoes fly, actually? The answer to that, of course, depends on the species, as well as on their circumstances.
In general, most mosquito species are adept fliers, evident from the fact that even despite their small size they don’t mind flying in heavy rain.
Yet, at the same time, most mosquito species don’t like to fly too far away – neither horizontally nor vertically – from their breeding ground.
So, how far and how high can mosquitoes fly really? Well, let’s throw some numbers together.
How high can mosquitoes fly?
The myth about the 25 feet maximum height for a mosquito is incorrect but not baseless. It’s likely derived from the fact that most common household and human-biting mosquitoes prefer not to fly over 25 feet of height.
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As we said, however, that’s not because they can’t fly higher but simply because they usually choose not to. After all, when both their breeding ground and their feeding stock (that’s us) is on the ground level, why would they fly higher?
If we pose the question “how high do mosquitoes fly?”, however, we can see that many mosquitoes don’t mind flying much higher from the ground when they need to. Some species breed in holes in trees 40 feet up. Others have been found in 21st-story apartments. Any container with at least 1 inch of stagnant water is a perfect place for mosquitoes to breed in, regardless of how high it is.
And, to give some more extreme examples, if you think that altitude above sea level is a detriment for mosquitoes, there are mosquito species and colonies nesting as high as 8,000+ feet above sea level in the Himalayas. Mosquitoes can even travel in high-altitude winds, at least 950 feet up.
Still, it is true that most mosquito species prefer lower altitude locations. Some people assume that’s because high altitude areas have less oxygen content in the air but the more likely reason is simply that the temperatures in higher altitudes are lower. For example, for a long time, higher altitude areas in Africa were free of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes because they didn’t like the colder temperatures. With the advancement of global warming, however, most of these areas are now a couple of degrees warmer than they used to be and have been invaded by malaria-transmitting mosquitoes too.
How far can mosquitoes travel?
Here it’s also important to ask the right question as there is a difference between “How far can mosquitoes travel” and “How far do mosquitoes travel”. The answer to the latter is – “not far”. It’s absolutely true that most mosquito species don’t like flying too far from their breeding grounds unless they are having trouble finding food.
Most mosquito species prefer to operate with a radius of 50 to 100 meters (160 to 320 feet) from their breeding ground. By and large, it’s very rare to see a mosquito more than 1.5 to 5 kilometers (1 – 3 miles) from their home.
However, there are mosquito species, such as the saltmarsh mosquitoes, that are known to frequently travel as far as 32 to 64 kilometers (20-40 miles) from their breeding ground. They are known to ride the winds at high altitude in order to search for new breeding areas.
Most commonly, mosquitoes spread their colonies around several hundred feet at a time.
How fast can mosquitoes fly?
The speed at which mosquitoes fly can depend on their species and sex, but most common mosquito species have an average speed between 1 and 1.5 miles per hour in a windless air. They are usually not in a hurry, however, and it’s not their speed that makes them troublesome.
If you think that by living on the fourth or higher floor you’ll be safe from mosquitoes, you’re wrong. Sure, percentage-wise you may encounter fewer of these flying parasites than your first-floor neighbor, but it doesn’t take more than a couple of mosquitoes to ruin your night or – even worse – to infect you with any of the numerous nasty diseases they can carry. And, if you happen to have even a single flower pot in your apartment, you can very soon be looking at a full-blown infestation right in your home, regardless of where you live.