The Mosquito Life Cycle

mosquitoThere are approximately 2,700 species of mosquitoes around the world. There is a well-known difference between male mosquitoes, which feed on plant nectar alone, and female mosquitoes, which extract blood from a host in order to develop and nourish eggs. Each genus of mosquito species might have a slightly different life cycle, but they all have same four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

The Mosquito Life Cycle

1. Egg Stage

Most females lay their eggs directly into water, while some do it near bodies of water. Only one inch of water is enough for them to lay the eggs. Female mosquitoes lay eggs every third day in clumps of over 100 eggs at a time. The eggs are white when first deposited, then darken to near black within one day. The duration of this phase depends on environmental conditions, so it could last from one day to nine months. For most species, if the conditions are good, the eggs will hatch in one to seven days.

2. Larval Stage

The mosquito larvae emerge when the eggs hatch, and are usually called wigglers since that is how they swim. They hang from the surface of the water, breathing through siphons. They live in water for seven to fourteen days, depending on the water temperature. There they feed on bacteria and organic matter from the water surface. Before further development, larvae shed several layers of their outside skin, which allows growth.

3. Pupa

The mosquito pupal stage is the resting and non-feeding stage. Pupae are lighter than water, so they float on the surface. They are shaped like commas with a head at one end and flippers at the other. Pupae are very active and can move quickly through the water. This stage lasts for only a couple of days before the adult mosquito emerges. Inside the pupal case, the developing adult can be seen. In the last stage, the pupa rises to the water surface and splits open so the new mosquito can get out.

4. Adult

The newly emerged adult mosquito needs to rest on the surface for a short time to allow itself to dry and harden its parts. Adult mosquitoes have a head with two large eyes, a thorax, a pair of wings, six legs, and antennae. Only females have mouth tubes for sucking blood. When they have reached adulthood, mosquitoes can mate within the first few days after emerging from the pupal stage. Most females die before their second blood meal, but some may feed two or even three times, often transmitting diseases along the way.

The Mosquito Lifespan

In most cases, male mosquitoes have the shortest lifespan of ten days or even less. Females can live for up to eight weeks in ideal conditions, while those of species that hibernate can live up to six months.

Mosquito Season

The first mosquitoes appear during early spring, along with the warm weather. They are most active during summer to early fall, while during cold winters they are not to be seen. It all depends on the weather, temperature, and rainfall. Eggs can survive the winter, but they need water to hatch, while mosquitoes need warm weather to emerge from hibernation. Their favorite time of the day to attack depends on species. Species like Aedes bite during the daytime, while others, like Culex, start biting at dusk and continue to do so a few hours into the night.

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