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Mosquitoes Out of Season

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. UMN Extension Entomologist

Photo 1: Anopheles punctipennis.
Bunni Olson.

When living in Minnesota, we know that mosquitoes are a fact of life. However, we at least can take consolation that this is a problem during the summer and not something we need to deal with in the dead of winter. And yet, a homeowner e-mailed that she was finding odd insects in her home that she said looked just like mosquitoes. She sent an image that showed what looked like a mosquito but with banded wings. Mosquitoes typically do not have banded wings but there are some closely related insect groups, like crane flies, that commonly do.

However, the long proboscis (mouthparts) and scales on its wings give the insect away as a mosquito. You can identify it as female because its antennae with few hairs on it and is not feather-like as a male would be. You can even identify the mosquito as an Anopheles sp. from the long palps adjacent to the proboscis. The wings have alternating black and light colored patches on their wings which are distinctive and diagnostic for the species Anopheles punctipennis (no common name).

Anopheles punctipennis, like other Anopheles species, spends winters in Minnesota in a diapause, a period of inactivity somewhat similar to hibernation. In fall, this species seeks dark, quiet, protected areas and commonly are found in abandoned buildings, hollow trees, caves, garages, and basements where they would normally stay for the winter. For individuals overwintering indoors, it is possible for some movement by a person or pet near to where they are resting to cause them to become active. Fortunately, Anopheles punctipennis is not known to transmit any disease and in fact are very unlikely to even bite now. They are just a nuisance and you do not need to take any special control measures against them.
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