Mosquitoes are insects that are known for their feeding on the blood of other animals. They go through four life stages that include egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, so they are particularly abundant in areas where still water is present such as shallow ends of lakes, creeks, swamps, and even backyards that have containers or areas with water. Both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar, but the females also need to feed on blood in order to develop eggs. They do not require the blood in order to survive however. Male mosquitoes do not bite and in fact don’t even have suitable mathparts to bite, so whenever someone gets bitten by a mosquito, it is a female doing the biting. Female mosquitoes have long piercings and sucking mouths.
There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, and around 150 species live within North America. Mosquitoes belong to the insect class, the diptera order, and the culicidae family. The order Diptera, or the order of the True Flies, indicated that the insect has a single pair of wings.
The word mosquito comes from a Spanish word meaning “little fly”, most likely because it resembles various species of flies, and is not a particularly large insect. The crane fly is often mistaken for a mosquito. Some claim the origin of the word mosquito actually came from the North American region and was first used in the late 1500’s. In Europe, they were called gnats by the British, and “les cousins” by the French. It has been documented that Aristotle studied mosquitoes and their habits as far back as 300 B.C. Today in Spanish, the plural word does not have the letter e included in its spelling. No matter what language the word mosquito is spoken, there is no question that this insect has been around bothering humans for centuries.
Mosquitoes have been problematic to humans and livestock for thousands of years. At minimum, the bites can cause annoying itchy red bumps on the skin. Some mosquitoes can carry diseases such as malaria, encephalitis, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and other dangerous health issues. There have been documented cases where human beings have died as a result of infected mosquitoes. Animals also suffer from mosquito bites, and some studies suggest that too many bites can cause a decrease in production of milk in female farm animals. They can also cause heartworms and death in animals, which has been known to affect farmers and their inventory of livestock. While in most developed nations mosquitoes pose little threat, they can be a nuisance and danger in many other nations where medications or prevention is not as easily available.
The Mosquito Life Cycle
Mosquitoes go through four life cycles: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs of a mosquito are laid in water, where they float on the surface. In about 48 hours, the eggs hatch into larva. The larva sheds it skin several times before hatching, which is a process known as molting. The larva eats microorganisms found in the water, which helps them grow. After about four months, the larva develops into pupa. During the pupa stage, mosquitoes do not feed. In approximately two days, the pupa then becomes an adult. The adult stage is when the mosquito has fully developed and can now travel, feed, and reproduce. Adult mosquitoes cannot live in temperatures below fifty degrees, so they typically mature into adults in areas with warm weather.
There are several ways that people can keep mosquitoes under control. For residential areas, the best way to prevent the spread of mosquitoes is to remove all standing water. Dump water from old tires, buckets, or other outdoor areas where standing water may be found. Pesticides, both all natural and chemical, can be used to keep mosquitoes at bay. Some industrial pesticides are often used to help kill or prevent the insects via dry chemicals or wet chemicals. There are natural ways to prevent mosquitoes that do not require the use of harmful pesticides, and some of these include planting certain species of plants, or installing a bat house where bats can reside and eat any excess mosquitoes.