The Life Cycle of Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are insects of the Culicidae family, and thus have that elaborate life cycle common to the most complex winged insects.

All mosquitoes go through a life cycle of four stages, to wit egg, larva, pupa and adult. To begin the cycle a female mosquito first has to obtain a blood meal. Just one blood meal supplies enough nutrients for the mother mosquito to produce up to two hundred and fifty eggs at one time. She then finds an aquatic location to lay eggs, usually directly on the surface of the stagnant water, in a depression in the sand along water, or on the edge of a container where rainwater may collect.

It takes just forty-eight hours for those eggs to hatch into larvae. The larvae lives in the water from seven to fourteen days, only coming to the surface to breathe. During this time, it feeds on microorganisms in the water until it develops into a pupa, the third stage of the life cycle, similar to a cocoon with a butterfly. The pupa also lives in the water but no longer feeds. After one to four days the mosquito emerges from the pupal shell as a fully developed adult. The adult mosquito then rests on the surface of the water to allow its body to finish molting before it can fly off and seek out a meal from your skin.

Male mosquitoes do not bite animals or humans; they feed only on plant juice, similar to bees and moths. Females are the ones out for your blood. They need the protein that animal and human blood provides in order to produce eggs. Exhaled carbon dioxide in your breath, from up to 150 feet away, is what first attracts a female mosquito to you. As the mosquito punctures the skin, its saliva is injected into the flesh. The mosquito's saliva is what causes a kind of allergic reaction, leaving the puncture wound swollen and itchy. If the mosquito is infected with any kind of disease, it is transferred into the prey through the saliva.

There are about three thousand different species of mosquitoes throughout the world. With 150 different species in the United States alone. Different species will carry different types of diseases that are local to that area and will attack and breed at different times of the day. Check with your local resource for the US Environmental Protection Agency to find out which details apply to the mosquitoes in your community.