Mosquitoes have plagued headlines in recent years with their ability to spread diseases to humans and animals alike. In particular, the dreaded West Nile Virus, as carried by mosquitoes, has gained growing publicity. This mosquito-borne disease was first discovered in Africa, in 1937. It didn’t make its first appearances in North America until 1999. In recent years, reports of this spreading disease and the yearly increase of deaths in America have sparked growing concerns and fear of this tiny insect.
Mosquitoes are classified within the same order as true flies due to their single pair of wings. Unlike other true flies within their order, these insects have scaled wings and females possess a long, needle-like mouthpiece. This mouthpiece extends and has the ability to pierce skin, enabling her to suck blood from her host. Males however, do not have the ability to suck blood, but rather feed on a mosquito’s primary food source: nectar.
Mosquitoes Suck Blood
It is commonly believed that mosquitoes dwell near standing water. While the majority of mosquito eggs are laid in a raft-like succession across fresh or still water, some of these insects will also alternatively choose to lay their eggs within moist soil as well. Regardless of where the eggs area laid, all eggs require water in one form or another to complete their growth. They must also be able to dry out prior to hatching.
These insects prefer moisture-rich areas such as lakes and creeks as well as pastures and marshes. Areas that play host to warm and humid climates are commonly sought out environments. Mosquitoes can be found on most continents and climates throughout the world except for those of extreme cold. They are prevalent in Africa and America, with smaller numbers in Europe and less in Asia.
Life Cycle of Mosquito
Mosquitoes complete four stages within their life cycle; eggs, larvae, pupa and adulthood. These insects begin life as eggs and subsequently go through the transformation process as larvae, after which they pupate and finally enter into adulthood. A female mosquito lays as many as 200 eggs at a time. Each egg is laid individually, or alternatively, they are laid in an attached form that is commonly referred to as a raft.
These insects are often referred to as a floodwater species, and while some eggs will hatch within 48 hours of being laid, other eggs will float on the flood waters of summer and subsequently become encased within mud once the waters have receded. The eggs will dry and often times survive the subzero temperatures of winter before hatching in the late spring. It is the spring rains that trigger the mosquito eggs’ hatching. Offspring are also laid in natural reservoirs created by plants and within free standing, stagnate water that might be found in an artificial pond or fountain.
Eggs will hatch into larvae, and mosquitoes of this stage will remain, almost entirely, beneath the surface of water anywhere between four and fourteen days. Many species in this stage are adept to living underwater, equipped with siphon tubes for breathing fresh air. There are certain species that will latch onto leaves or plants to obtain oxygen, while others still will lie parallel with the surface for a direct oxygen intake.
Mosquito larvae are known as wigglers and look similar to a caterpillar. They mostly feed on microorganisms and organic matter within the water, but some species are cannibalistic during this stage. All larvae will molt four times. Molting is the process in which the insect will shed its skin to accommodate for rapid growth. Subsequent to the fourth molting, the mosquito enters the pupa stage.
The pupa stage can last anywhere between another four to fourteen days, dependent upon water temperatures. In this stage, the mosquitoes weigh less than the water in which they live, and will therefore float the surface, taking in oxygen through breathing tubes commonly referred to as trumpets. Toward the end of this stage, the mosquito will form a pupal case which will be split by the adult mosquito that emerges from within.
Adult mosquitoes must rest on the surface of the water following the pupal stage until the air dries and hardens its wings. These insects are not capable of blood feeding or mating for up to an additional two days after emerging from the pupal encase. Life expectancy varies greatly and is dependent upon species and temperatures. Some species may complete their adult stage within as little as four days, while others can live as long as a month. Adults generally do not live past the summer months.
Mosquitoes and Humans
Commonly known for their harsh bite and blood meals, mosquitoes have always been a persistent pest to the human race. Not commonly known, only female mosquitoes have the ability to bite and feed from the blood of humans and animals. It is this food source that enables her enough protein for egg production. Both females and males primarily feed on nectar, however, to meet nutritional needs.
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk or on cloudy, cooler days. It isn’t common for these insects to dwell within human homes, as they prefer the outdoors, but females will often visit homes while actively seeking out blood meals.
Aside from the nagging pain of their bite, mosquitoes carry and transmit deadly viruses and damaging parasites. Host to these diseases, mosquitoes never fall victim to their symptoms but freely pass them person to person or animal. Mosquitoes vector serious diseases malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and West Nile virus. Many of these diseases carry risk of fatality. Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading disease to over 700 million people a year, an average minimum of two million of those resulting in death. Research projects are currently focused on developing vaccines for the diseases spread by mosquitoes. Other non-profit organizations donate millions of malaria nets to poor parts of Africa.
Mosquito Control – Pest Control for Mosquitoes
Many people view mosquitoes as just an annoyance. Consider this, they transfer diseases that includes common cold, flue virus, and even aids. I’ts important that you read our mosquito control page and learn about techniques to keep mosquitoes off you as well as pest prevention techniques.
Mosquito Scientific Name: Culiseta longiareolata
Mosquitoes are part of the Animalia kingdom within the Arthropoda phylum. They are insects of the Diptera order. These insects are classified in the suborder of Nematocera and in the infraorder of culicomorpha. Mosquitos are in the Culicoidea super family and within the family of Culicidae.
The word “mosquito” originates from Spanish and literally means “little fly”. In spite of their short life cycles, this little pest can invoke much damage. Mosquitoes are responsible for the transmittance of diseases to over 700 million people per year and cause an average of two million related deaths annually.