Mosquitoes in Massachusetts

Frequently asked questions about mosquitoes and information about common kinds of mosquitoes that are most likely to spread disease in Massachusetts

Table of Contents

Frequently asked questions

Are there different kinds of mosquitoes?

Yes. About 3000 different kinds (also called “species”) of mosquitoes have been identified worldwide, with more than 150 different kinds of mosquitoes found in North America. Fifty-one different kinds of mosquitoes have been found in Massachusetts.

Where are mosquitoes usually found?

Most adults spend the day in damp, shady areas where they can find protection from the sun; some of them will even hide in your house. Mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs in and plants to hide in so they are usually found around water and plants. Mosquito eggs are laid on water or damp soil where the young mosquitoes grow and develop.

Different mosquitoes prefer different kinds of water. Some like swamps or ponds and others prefer water in swimming and wading pools, old tires, watering cans, flower pots, trash cans, etc. When the young mosquito turns into an adult, it leaves the water and flies away.

How long do mosquitoes live?

Most female mosquitoes live for less than 2 weeks and most male mosquitoes live for less than a week. However, when the conditions are right, some mosquitoes will live up to 8 weeks. The life cycle of all mosquitoes includes four different stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Adult mosquitoes are the only ones that fly.

Why do mosquitoes bite?

Only female mosquitoes bite to suck blood. The female uses the blood to make eggs. Male and female mosquitoes use plant nectars and fruit juices as their main source of food. 

Do all female mosquitoes bite humans?

No. Different kinds of mosquitoes like different types of blood. Some mosquitoes feed on animals like frogs, turtles and birds. Other kinds bite mammals, including horses and humans. Some will bite both birds and mammals including humans. These mosquito species play an important role in spreading disease between birds and other mammals, including humans. Diseases that are usually found in birds can be transmitted to humans (and some other mammals, like horses) by mosquitoes that bite both birds and mammals.

When am I most likely to be bitten by a mosquito?

You can be bitten at any time. Different kinds of mosquitoes are active at different times of the day. Most mosquitoes are active from just before dusk, through the night until dawn.

Did you know?

Some kinds of mosquitoes can fly 1.5 miles per hour.

How does a mosquito find an animal or human to bite?

Female mosquitoes are attracted to the gas (carbon dioxide) that humans and other animals breathe out. Mosquitoes can follow a stream of carbon dioxide from as far as 50 feet away. Mosquitoes are also attracted to substances like lactic acid on your skin, which your body produces in greater amounts when exercising. Mosquitoes may also be attracted to certain scents or fragrances and are more attracted to dark colors than light colors.

Why are mosquito bites a concern?

Some mosquitoes carry germs that can make people and some animals sick. Mosquitoes can transmit germs when they bite. In Massachusetts, the diseases linked to mosquitoes are West Nile virus (WNV) and eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus.

Do all mosquitoes spread germs to people?

No. In fact, most mosquito bites will only cause itching or skin irritation. However, some species found in Massachusetts carry viruses that can cause illness.

Additional Resources

Common mosquitoes that can spread disease in Massachusetts

Most mosquito bites will only result in itching or skin irritation. However, some kinds of mosquitoes found in Massachusetts carry viruses (germs) that can cause illness.

Mosquito Species Name When are they most active? Where do they live and what kind of water do they like? What types of animals do they bite? What time of year are they most common?
Aedes vexans Dusk/dawn, night River floodplains and salt-marshes temporary flooded areas Mammals/humans Summer and early fall
Coquillettidia perturbans Dusk/dawn, night Woodlands cat-tail marshes Birds Mammals/humans Summer
Culex pipiens Dusk/dawn, night Urban areasartificial containers Birds,
Occasionally mammals/humans
Summer and early fall
Culex restuans Dusk/dawn, night Urban areasnatural and artificial containers Birds,
Occasionally mammals/humans
Spring, summer and fall
Culex salinarius Dusk/dawn, night Salt-marshes brackish and  freshwater wetlands


Culiseta melanura Dusk/dawn, night Woodlandswhite cedar and red maple swamps Birds, occasionally Mammals/humans Spring and summer
Ochlerotatus canadensis Dusk/dawn, day Woodlandswoodland pools Birds Mammals/humans Late spring through summer
Ochlerotatus japonicus Day Urban areasnatural and artificial containers Mammals/humans Summer through fall

Additional Resources


  • For information on diseases spread by mosquitoes and how to prevent them: call the MDPH, Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at (617) 983-6800 or visit the MDPH Mosquito website
  • For information on mosquito species found in Massachusetts visit the MDPH Mosquito website
  • For information on mosquito repellents: review the MDPH Public Health Fact Sheet on Mosquito Repellents. If you can’t go online, call the MDPH at (617) 983-6800 for a hard copy.
  • For information on mosquito control: The State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board (SRMCB) within the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources oversees mosquito control in Massachusetts. The SRMCB can be contacted at (617) 626-1723. There are nine established mosquito control districts in the state that provide service to many cities and towns. View information for each district.
  • For information about mosquito-borne disease and your community: call your local board of health (listed in the telephone directory under local government).

This web page was developed in conjunction with the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board and the Massachusetts Mosquito Control Projects.

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