Believe it or not, mosquitoes could be considered one of the most dangerous insects on Earth! They are responsible for more human death than any other living creature as they carry some serious diseases. Malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever are all deadly diseases that are transmitted by the mosquito.
There are more than 3,000 recognized mosquito species and 170 of them are found in the United States. They vary in size, color and their preference of host differs from one mosquito to the other.
Characteristics of mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are very slender, delicate insects with the average adult only 16mm long and weighs just 0.04g. The size of the mosquito can vary and depends on the larva population and the amount of food available for it to eat.
The mosquito’s slim body is made up of a head, thorax and abdomen. Attached to the ¬head is a pair of long, fine antennas, which are important for detecting the host’s smell or scoping out breeding sites.
Incredibly, the male mosquitoes beat their wings 450 – 600 times per second and can fly a distance of 20 miles or more. Imagine a mosquito flying all the way from California to West Covina in one trip! Most mosquitoes though prefer to stay close to their breeding site and tend not to fly much more than a mile away.
How does a mosquito bite?
Only the female mosquito has the mouthparts to bite and suck up blood. She needs the blood not only for nourishment but also so she can develop eggs in order to reproduce. If she does not get a sufficient amount of blood she will most likely die without laying any viable eggs.
She detects exhaled carbon dioxide, body odors and movement of a victim with her antennas and then stabs the skin with a special part of her mouth called a proboscis. Through one of the tubes she injects her saliva into the victim’s blood to prevent clotting. Through the other tube she sucks up the blood into her body. It’s the saliva she injects that makes the little red bump bites itch!
It is when biting, the mosquito transmits diseases, but not all species of mosquitoes bite humans. There are mosquitoes that like birds, domesticated animals such as horses and cattle and even reptiles like frogs and snakes!
The lifecycle of a mosquito
A mosquito goes through four phases of its lifecycle from the egg to larval to pupa and then finally an adult. They lay around 10-200 eggs in water and it takes about 4-7 days before the lifecycle completes and an adult mosquito forms. A single egg can survive in an ideal environment for more than 5 years!
The lifespan of a mosquito is short and depends on the surrounding temperature, humidity and time of year. Males live for only a week or two, while females can survive for about a month.
What do mosquitoes eat?
Both the male and female mosquito feeds on nectar and plant juices, especially the sugary ones. It is from this source that they get most of their energy. For females, the blood is full of nutrients, particularly protein that is needed for her to produce eggs. The female mosquito is capable of consuming almost 300ml of blood a day!
Where do mosquitoes live?
Mosquitoes can be found in groups all over the world except for really cold regions like Antarctica. They generally like warm, humid temperatures like the tropics and steer clear of the extremely hot or extremely cold climates.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in still water, most commonly ponds, marshlands and swamps. Containers of waters, such as buckets and troughs are also an ideal breeding environment.
Natural predators of the mosquito
Aside from us humans, there are some natural predators, which enjoy the taste of a mosquito. The dragonfly is the most common predator and can eat the mosquito at all stages in its lifecycle helping to control the mosquito population. Bats, fish, frogs and birds also like mosquitoes in their diet.
If you need some more information on mosquitoes or how to protect yourself from an invasion in your home, contact us today.