Depending upon the species, mosquitoes can fly at about 1 to 1.5 miles per hour.
Mosquitoes species preferring to breed around the house, like the Asian Tiger Mosquito, have limited flight ranges of about 300 feet. Most species have flight ranges of 1-3 miles. Certain large pool breeders in the Midwest are often found up to 7 miles from known breeding spots. the undisputed champions, though, are the salt marsh breeders - having been known to migrate up to 100 miles in exceptional circumstances, although 20 - 40 miles are much more common when hosts are scarce. When caught up in updrafts that direct them into winds high above the ground, mosquitoes can be carried great distances.
When feeding to repletion, mosquitoes imbibe anywhere from 0.001 to 0.01 milliliter.
Female mosquitoes imbibe blood so that their eggs can mature prior to laying. It serves no nourishment function. Males do not take blood meals at all. In order to obtain energy, both male and female mosquitoes feed upon plant nectars - much in the same manner as honeybees.
Life span vary by species. Most adult female mosquitoes live 2-3 weeks. Some species that stay over-winter in garages, culverts and attics can live as long as 6 months.
In general, mosquitoes that bite humans prefer to fly at heights of less than 25 ft. Asian Tiger Mosquitoes have been found breeding in tree holes over 40 feet above ground. In Singapore, they have been found in apartments 21 stories above ground. Mosquitoes have been found breeding up to 8,000 feet in the Himalayas and 2000 feet underground in mines in India.
At least 43 species of mosquitoes have been found infected with the West Nile virus in the United States. Not all of these, however, are capable of maintaining the virus in such a manner as to permit them to transmit it among organisms. Many of these infected mosquitoes feed only upon birds, thus contributing to a cycling of the virus among avian populations. Other species feed upon these infective birds and then will feed upon mammals, including humans. These are called "bridge vectors" because they serve as a conduit for the virus to travel from its reservoir in birds to its final host in humans or other mammals. In urban settings, Culex pipiens is usually the primary vector. In rural areas, particularly in the western part of the United States, Culex tarsalis is the primary transmitter.
Why some people seem to be more attractive than others to mosquitoes is the subject of repellent (and attractant for traps) research being conducted nationwide. Carbon dioxide is the most universally recognized mosquito attractant and draws mosquitoes from up to 35 meters. When female mosquitoes sense carbon dioxide they usually adopt a zigzagging flight path to locate its source. Once in the general vicinity of a potential host, other cues predominate, including body odors (sweat, lactic acid, etc.) and heat. Over 350 compounds have been isolated from odors produced by human skin. Many of these compounds may be attractants - and many may be repellents. As you can see, the situation is complicated and will require many years of testing before it can be sorted out. Visual stimuli, such as movement, also factor into host-seeking. What can be safely stated, though, is that ingestion of garlic, vitamin B12 and other systemics has been proven in controlled laboratory studies to have no impact on mosquito biting. Conversely, eating bananas did not attract mosquitoes as the myth suggests, but wearing perfumes does. People drinking beer have been shown to be more attractive to mosquitoes. Limburger cheese has also been found to be attractive. Scientists have theorized that this may explain the attractancy some mosquitoes find for human feet.
N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET) remains the standard by which all other repellents are judged. It is effective against mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, fleas, and ticks. Over 25 years of testing of more than 20,000 other compounds has not resulted in another marketed chemical product with the effectiveness of DEET. Most apparent repellency failures with DEET are due to misapplications, so care should be taken to apply it thoroughly (avoiding the eyes and mucous membranes) and to reapply when necessarily. This is crucial to maintain the DEET vapor barrier above the skin. New polymerized 30% DEET cream formulations provide excellent protection not significantly exceeded by higher DEET concentrations. Physicians recommend that a formulation of no more than 10% DEET be used on children.
There are a number of EPA-registered alternatives available utilizing lemon/eucalyptus (RepelR) and picaridin (Cutter AdvancedR) formulations. If applied properly and reapplied as needed, they are every bit as effective as DEET, and will provide adequate relief.