Mosquito Life Cycle

Understanding a mosquito’s life cycle can help you with mosquito kill and keep them from breeding in your yard. So, to be fully prepared to get rid of them, let’s look at their breeding, and living habits.

There is approximately 2800 different species worldwide. Of those about 150 species are found in the United States. While there are minor differences between species, for the most part their life cycle is fairly standard.

Only the females bite. They need the protein in blood in order to produce eggs. The males do not even have the necessary mouthparts to bite; instead, they feed on plant nectar. Although it is hard to believe, there are even some species of mosquitoes that do not feed on blood, and some species larvae feed primarily on the larvae of other species.

Mosquitoes are true insects and go through the customary stages of development: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. Generally, these four stages are completed in about a month. The female lays her eggs in water, which begins the mosquito life cycle.

They are constructed to float. Some eggs have individual “wings” that keep them afloat. Other species lay their eggs emerging-mosquito-pupaein rafts, which are a collection of eggs that float together. The female can lay anywhere from 50-400 eggs at a time, depending on species. The eggs hatch in a day or two (from the bottom, of course) and the larvae, often called “wigglers” dive under the water to feed, and come up to the surface to breathe. Mosquito larvae have an extended tube, called a siphon, which they push above the water’s surface to get air. They feed on small organisms and bacteria in the water. They are a food source for fish and other insect larvae, like dragonfly nymphs.

The mosquito larvae go through several molts, and after the last molt, they enter the pupae phase. This generally takes around 7-10 days. The next phase in the mosquito life cycle is that of the pupae. Mosquito pupae also breathe with siphons, and although they are quite active in this phase, they do not feed. Many insect pupae, are completely inactive this phase. Butterflies, for example, are immobilized in their cocoons.

In a few days, the pupae shed their skin and become adults. The mosquito pupae use air pressure to break off their pupal casing. The newly emerged adult must rest on the water surface for a few minutes so that it’s wings can dry, very much like butterflies do. This is at least one reason the female mosquito will not lay her eggs in running water.
Once emerged, mosquitoes immediately seek out a mate. Once mating has been accomplished, both sexes begin the hunt for food. The males generally live only a few days after mating, and live on plant nectar. The female will immediately seek a blood meal because she needs the protein to develop her eggs. She has a long, very sharp beak called a proboscis, which is designed to pierce the host’s skin. Once she has gorged on blood, she lays her first clutch of eggs in still water. Then, she begins to seek out her next blood meal. She needs a blood meal before each round of egg laying, and she can repeat this cycle many times during her 4-8 week life span, which then completes the mosquito life cycle.

The female has very poor eyesight, but a very highly developed olfactory sense. She can detect carbon dioxide, sweat, lactic acid, warmth and infrared light from as far away as four miles. She follows this trail to her host. If undisturbed, she will feed. But, if she is brushed off, she goes elsewhere. If she is undisturbed, she sticks her proboscis into the host and injects her saliva into the host. Her saliva contains anti-coagulants to prevent the blood from clotting. She will continue feeding until she has a full stomach.

And, so the cycle continues until she dies. Mosquitoes are poor flyers, and most don’t stray more than 200-300 feet from where they are born. So, any mosquitoes that are biting you were probably bred very close by.

By understanding the mosquito life cycle, you can use the information to be sure there are no breeding grounds around your home. And, if you have a choice, you may not wish live near a lake or pond.

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