It’s common knowledge that mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, but is there any such thing as a completely mosquito-free hour? These insects are often absent in broad daylight, which leads many to believe that mosquitoes sleep during the day.
So; is it true? Do mosquitoes really sleep like we do and, if so, when and where do they do it?
Do mosquitoes sleep?
Mosquitoes are thought to enter a sleep-like state at certain times of the day, but they don’t sleep in the same way that humans do. There have been very few scientific studies on sleep in mosquitoes, but one study of Drosophila (the fruit fly) described the sleep-like state as a period of inactivity.
When resting, the flies would get into a certain position (usually lying down) and become completely immobile, except for small, sporadic movements (i.e., sleep twitches).
Mosquitoes are known to rest at certain times of the day, and will become largely inactive when doing so. Therefore, mosquitoes are thought to enter a sleep-like state similar to that of other fly species.
At what time do mosquitoes sleep?
Do mosquitoes sleep at night, or during the daytime? Do they sleep for several hours at a time, like humans do, or do they prefer a quick nap before getting up to gate-crash garden parties and barbecues?
Most mosquito species ‘sleep’ during the day and are most active at dawn or dusk. This is because they can’t handle the midday heat, and will quickly become dehydrated if they stay out in the hottest part of the day. Often, mosquitoes will also remain active throughout the night, when temperatures are cool enough for them to roam around and feed.
Though most mosquito species follow this general rule (sleep during the day, bite at night), there are a few species that don’t. The Asian Tiger mosquito and Aedes mosquitoes are both species that primarily rest at night and bite during the day.
This is bad news for anyone living in areas with high rates of mosquito-borne illness, as Aedes mosquitoes are known to spread a variety of diseases including Yellow fever, Dengue fever, Chikungunya fever and Zika fever.
Where do mosquitoes sleep?
Mosquitoes that sleep during the day tend to rest in sheltered areas, where they are protected from the midday heat. They often prefer dark, damp and humid spots such as grassy areas, caves and inside hollow logs. They may also head into manmade structures for their siesta and are commonly found lurking inside barns, cupboards and closets.
How to prevent mosquito bites
Mosquitoes may sleep during the daytime, but they’ll be back to biting people by the time dusk arrives. So, how can you avoid bites at night?
Use insect repellent
Probably the most effective way to prevent mosquito bites is by using an insect repellent spray. Repellent products often contain insecticidal substances such as DEET or picaridin, both of which will keep mosquitoes (and other bugs) off you for up to 8 hours. Natural alternatives (which often contain essential oils) can also effectively repel insects, but their effects usually don’t last as long.
Wear long, loose-fitting clothes
Long, loose-fitting clothes create a physical barrier between mosquitoes and your kin, and may be an attractive alternative to dousing yourself in insect repellent. Protective clothing should be worn at dawn and dusk, when most mosquito species are most active.
Sleep under a mosquito net
The best way to prevent mosquito bites at night is to sleep under a mosquito net. Nets are inexpensive and easy to set up, and create a mosquito-free zone that will keep bugs away from you throughout the night.
Install bug screens around windows and doors
If you live in a tropical or subtropical region, mosquitoes are inevitable. People living in places with large mosquito populations should install bug screens around their windows and doors, and seal up any cracks and gaps around frames. This will help to keep mosquitoes out of the house and can reduce the likelihood of bites.
Buy bug spray
Even if you do set up screens, mosquitoes may sneak in through open doors and windows. If this happens, it can be useful to have a can of bug spray on hand.
These products are usually kill-on-contact and can knock mosquitoes out of the air instantly, which is much easier than chasing them down with a fly swatter.
Use mosquito repelling candles
Mosquito repellent candles, coils and reed diffusers can also help to keep the number of mosquitoes around you to a minimum. These products can help to keep mosquitoes out of your vicinity if you’re enjoying outdoor time in the evening, and may also prevent them from coming into your house. Citronella candles are often used to repel mosquitoes, and are widely available for purchase.
Stay indoors at dawn and dusk
If all else fails, a good way to prevent mosquito bites is to simply stay out of their way. Most species of mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk so, if you want to avoid them, you can stay indoors during these hours.
Unfortunately, many mosquitoes remain active throughout the night, so you will still need to use repellent spray, protective clothing or mosquito nets if you’re in a region with a large mosquito population.
Mosquitoes may not sleep in exactly the same way that humans do, but they are thought to enter a sleep-like state when resting. Most mosquito species will rest during the daytime, when temperatures are too high for them to roam about, becoming active again at dusk, night and dawn.
Mosquitoes sleep in sheltered areas that protect them from the heat of the sun, and will often rest in grassy areas, plants, caves, barns, cupboards and closets.