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  • Understanding the Life Cycle of the Mosquito

    The life cycle of the mosquito is fairly straightforward, having only four stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult.

    Mosquitoes reproduce by laying eggs, usually in areas of standard water.  They may lay eggs individually, as the Anopheles and Aedes genera do, or they may lay eggs close together so that the sticky eggs form a raft of 100 eggs or more, as Culex and Culiseta mosquitoes do.  Additionally, the Aedes female lays her eggs on damp soil, where they will await rising flood waters before hatching.  Most mosquitoes lay their eggs at night and adult females can lay eggs about every three days.  In 48 hours, most eggs will hatch to reveal the larva inside.

    During the larval stage, the mosquitoes will grow and molt their skin, becoming larger with each molting.  The larvae live in water, but come to the surface to breathe, using a siphon tube to hang from the water’s surface and to breathe through.  To grow, they eat organic material and micro-organisms in the water.  When the larva molt for the fourth time, the mosquitoes enter the pupal stage.  Mosquito larvae are frequently called wigglers or wrigglers.  The length of this stage depends primarily on the water temperature – typically, it will vary from one to two weeks.

    During the pupal – or tumbler – stage, the mosquito rests.  In about two days, the pupae will split its skin and emerge as an adult.  During this stage, the pupae doesn’t eat, instead saving it’s strength for its third and final transformation.

    The final stage of life for the mosquito is the adult phase.  The mosquito will be moist when it emerges from its pupal skin and will spend some time sitting on the surface of the water.  During this time, it will spread its wings so that they can dry and all of its various parts will harden.

    If you’ve ever been bitten by a mosquito, it was a female.  Only the females bite because they need the blood to help them produce their eggs.  Males prefer to take their meals by sipping the nectar of flowers.  The most aggressive biters are from the Aedes and Culex genera.  And although Aedes mosquitoes usually don’t enter the house, Culex mosquitoes have no such qualms.

    How quickly the entire life cycle of an individual mosquito is accomplished depends on a number of factors, including the particular species and environmental circumstances.  Heat plays an important role, with higher temperatures leading to less time spent in each of the first three stages.

    In addition, there are a number of different ways to thwart the mosquito life cycle if you’re attempting to get rid of mosquitoes.  The best methods attack the eggs and larva and don’t allow the insects to mature and reproduce.  It also helps to reduce potential mosquito breeding sites at your home or office.  If there’s standing water anywhere on or near your property, remove it or see that it’s treated with the necessary chemicals to kill any mosquito eggs that are hanging around.