Mosquitoes are insects belonging to the order Diptera. Only females bite. Female mosquitoes have a long piercing proboscis (mouthpart) they use to extract blood from other animals. After mating with a male, the female needs a meal of blood to keep her developing eggs healthy. Male mosquitoes do not have a proboscis which allows them to pierce skin. Their food source is nectar. Mosquitoes can carry diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever to humans, encephalitis to humans and horses, and heartworm to dogs.
Mosquito Life Cycle
There are four distinct stages of the mosquito life cycle. The egg, larva, pupa and adult. Eggs are typically laid in the hundreds at the surface of the water. Most eggs hatch within 48 hours. The larvae swim in the water and use siphon tubes to breath while floating near the water surface. After feeding on micro-organisms and growing larger, they shed their skin four times and evolve into the pupa stage.
The pupa stage of development is a time when the young mosquito does not feed. After about two days the pupa evolves into an adult mosquito. The new adult mosquito escapes from the pupae skin be splitting the skin open and resting at the water surface to allow its’ body parts to harden. Mosquitoes can complete the entire egg to adult cycle in 10 to 14 days, depending on the temperature, with shorter times during warmer periods. Some species can even reach the adult stage in as little as two to three days.
Why Do We Need Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are very abundant. Many of the eggs that mosquitoes lay in the water, and never become adults. They are eaten by fish, insects, frogs, toads and other amphibians. They are a major food source for some of these creatures. Once mosquitoes become adults, they become the food source for bats, dragonflies, flycatcher birds and many other insects and birds. Mosquitoes are annoying, but they do serve a purpose.