Mosquito Biology

There are over 150 species of mosquito in the United States; over 3000 worldwide. Almost all fall into four common genre: anopheline, culex, culex pallens and anopheles. In the United States, regional mosquitoes are known as house mosquitoes, southern mosquitoes, northern mosquitoes, day-biting mosquitoes, asian tiger mosquitoes, yellow fever mosquitoes, salt water mosquitoes, salt water marsh mosquitoes, swamp mosquitoes, glades mosquitoes, dark rice field mosquitoes, black salt marsh mosquitoes and malaria mosquitoes. Some are able to fully develop from eggs in less than a week. Most take 10-14 days to reach maturity but what is important is that mosquitoes do grow rapidly. Mosquitoes need water and high levels of moisture to sustain themselves. Although female mosquitoes may live for up to a year, most die in the season they were born. Mosquito populations are able to continue from year to year because one stage is able to “overwinter” or hibernate and start their cycle again the next spring. It may be the adult, the pupa, the larva or the egg needed to continue the specie. Each species has different winter survivors but the following season, the problem is the same: biting mosquitoes.

Some adult females don’t need a blood meal to begin to reproduce. In general, male mosquitoes live a short time. Most mosquitoes lay several hundred eggs and are able to generate huge populations within a short period of time. Although standing water is the prime location for them mosquitoes to reproduce, there are many locations around the home that afford fertile egg laying areas. Such places include water in the bottom of planters, drainage streams, street sewers which don’t drain completely, rain barrels, buckets of water, swimming pools, drain lines from rain gutters, old tires, mulch around the home, shrubs, trees, firewood, slow moving water, small decorative ponds for pet fish, bird baths, water accumulating around windows or doors, water accumulating from an automatic sprinkler system, pet water dishes, leaks around water spickets and just about anywhere water is used or is able to accumulate during the warm summer months any where in the country. Mosquitoes need water to reproduce. They will readily move to moist, shady areas under decks, around pools, in garages, in dense shrubbery or flowers, any kind of ivy, holes or nooks of trees, water in a clogged rain gutter or simply the water on a leaf of shrubs which are being watered during the hot summer months.

Life cycle of a mosquito

Eggs

1-Eggs

 

Water is necessary for mosquito production. Some species lay one egg at a time and others lay eggs in large groups of several hundred. The picture is “raft” of eggs floating on water. Some mosquitoes lay their eggs on moist soil. Most eggs will hatch out into larvae within 48 hours.

 

 

 


Larva

2-Larva

 

The larva actually breathe. They use tubes that come to the surface of the water they are living in to get air. The larvae in the picture are hanging upside down from the tubes. Some mosquito larva can get oxygen from plants by attaching to the plant. In this stage, the larva will “molt” or shed its skin four times growing larger each time. The larva will uses organic matter and microorganisms in the water for food. They will live in the water in this stage from just a few days to up to two weeks. In the last molt they will become pupa.

 

 


Pupa

3-Pupa

 

This is the resting stage.  In this stage the pupa will become the adult mosquito.  It will not feed in this stage.  These are the “wigglers” some people call them.  You can see them in the water moving their tails rapidly to move about in the water.  I am sure that you have seen this in barrels or other containers that have stagnant water for some time.  The pupa will live here for as little as one day before becoming adults, usually slightly longer, depending on the temperature of the water.

 

 

 


Adult

4-Adult

 

The freshly created adult mosquito will hang out on the water for a little while so that it can dry its’ wings.  It can’t fly with wet wings.  It will not bite you for a couple of days after it leaves the water.  Most mosquitoes do not travel far from the place where they came into the world.  Of course, the male dies a very short time after mating.

 

 


Source of food

5-Source-of-Food

 

Nectar is the main source of food for both male and female mosquitoes. The female is the only biter and blood sucker.  She needs the protein for reproduction. Humans are actually the second choice of mosquitoes. They prefer smaller mammals and livestock, sometimes birds. Some mosquitoes can live as long as a few weeks.