|Size:||0.25 to 0.375 inch (6.35 to 9.5 mm)|
|Diet:||Plant and fruit juices, nectar, blood of animals|
|Young:||100 to 400 eggs|
|Animal Predators:||Fish, bats, frogs, toads, birds, dragonflies and spiders|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Lifespan:||Average lifespan of a female is 3 to 100 days, while males live 10 to 20 days|
· Females must consume a blood meal to reproduce.
· There are over 2500 different species of mosquitoes throughout the world.
· Mosquitoes have been around for over 100 million years.
· Some mosquitoes transmit diseases such as malaria and the West Nile virus to humans and other animals.
· Mosquito is a Spanish word meaning “little fly” and its use dates back to the 1500s.
Mosquitoes are small flies with a pair of scaly wings. They have a long mouthpiece that can pierce skin and suck up blood, but because they inject saliva at the same time, they pass on potentially fatal diseases such as malaria, dengue and encephalitis. Some people are very sensitive to the saliva and get an itchy, painful welt where the bite occurred. Males differ from females by having feathery antennae and mouthparts not suitable for piercing skin.
Mosquitoes are found in every corner of the world. They are especially abundant in the woods and by water and plant sources, but can be found in cities as well, preferring to come out at dusk. Although they have relatively short lifespans, when hibernating, mosquitoes can live up to six to eight months.
Male and female mosquitoes mainly rely on sugar as an energy source, and feed on plant juices and nectar. Male mosquitoes are harmless creatures that do not eat blood and never attack humans or animals. Female mosquitoes are the insects people have come to hate, because they need a blood meal to reproduce. Mosquitoes attack not only humans, but animals as well, and are unwelcome creatures on farms and ranches. Scientists have a variety of theories as to why certain people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others. Apparently dark clothing is more attractive because it retains heat as opposed to light coloured clothing. Certain scents and hairsprays also either attract or repel the mosquito. Because mosquitoes love sugar, people with normal or high blood sugar levels are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes than people with low blood sugar levels. Mosquitoes have poor eyesight so they locate blood hosts through smell. From 100 feet away (30 m) mosquitoes can smell the scent of an animal, especially the carbon dioxide they exhale. Also, when they are 10 feet (3 m) away from a blood host they use extremely sensitive thermal receptors on the tip of their antennae to locate blood near the surface of the skin. The range of these receptors increases threefold when the humidity is high.
When mating, males beat their antennae at a certain frequency to attract females. Females lay their eggs in still, undisturbed water. Eggs are laid one at a time and stock together to form a floating layer of about 200 to 300 eggs on the water’s surface. This raft of eggs looks like a speck of soot floating on the water and is about 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) long and 1/8 inch (3.175 mm) wide. A female mosquito may lay a raft of eggs every third night during its lifespan. Some mosquitoes lay their eggs one at a time in the water or on damp soil and do not stick them together. The eggs hatch into larvae within 48 hours. In the larva stage, they live on the surface of the water for seven to 14 days and feed on algae. The larva sheds its skin four times as it grows in size. The fourth change turns the larva into a pupa. The pupa rests, without feeding and at this time, the mosquito emerges as a fully developed adult, breaking the pupal skin and resting on the water’s surface before spreading its wings and flying away.
Mosquitoes thrive in warm weather and become sleepy and inactive when temperatures dip below 60o F (15oC). They hibernate when it gets cold, but in tropical areas they remain active all year round.
Mosquito populations are abundant and are not of conservation concern.
Mosquito Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US