The mosquito is a common flying insect that lives in most parts of the world. There are over 3,000 varieties of mosquitoes worldwide. An animal, bug, or tick that spreads pathogens to individuals and animals is a vector. There are few mosquitoes that act as Vectors. We may get sick of the germs (viruses and parasites) that these mosquitoes spread. There are some mosquitoes that bite but do not spread germs which are called nuisance mosquitoes.
In this section, we will discuss mosquito taxonomy details.
The Kingdom of Mosquito is Animalia.
The Phylum is Arthropoda.
Mosquitoes belong to Class Insecta.
The Order of Mosquitoes is Diptera.
The mosquito's scientific name is Culicidae.
Mosquito Life Cycle
Although all mosquitoes need standing water to reproduce, in different environments, different types of mosquitoes are found. Some mosquitoes are considered to be floodwater species that reproduce in temporary water environments. While other species are considered to be permanent water mosquitoes and to reproduce in long-lasting water bodies. Other species have grown in such a particular way that only their eggs are laid in natural or artificial containers.
The mosquito life cycle will also determine “How many days mosquitoes live?”
All mosquitoes experience the same four-stage life cycle, no matter what their chosen breeding habitat:
The life cycle of mosquito diagrams gives the pictorial representation of mosquito growth and development.
Let Us Discuss in Detail the Mosquito Life Cycle.
The female mosquito lays her eggs either individually or in attached groups called rafts, depending on the specific species.
Eggs are put either directly on the surface of still water, around its margins, in tree holes, or in other areas vulnerable to rain, irrigation, or flood flooding.
In some species, with the exact amount of time depending on temperature, the eggs may hatch within a few days of laying. But if the egg is laid out of the water and is subjected to occasional flooding, before the ideal natural hatching conditions are met, the embryo may lay dormant for several years.
The larval stage starts once the egg hatches. As they need oxygen to breathe, the larvae of most mosquito species hang suspended from the water surface.
An air tube, called a syphon, travels to the water surface from the posterior of the larva and serves as a snorkel.
Filter larvae feed on aquatic microorganisms at the surface of the water. When frightened, the larvae will plunge deeper into the water as a defensive mechanism by swimming in a characteristic 'S' action, which has gained them the nickname 'wigglers' or 'wrigglers.'
Larvae outgrow their external covering and form a new exoskeleton as they eat, throwing off the old ones.
The phases are called instars between these moults. There are 4 instars in the larval process. The period of the larval stage varies from 4 to 14 days, varying according to the species, temperature of the water, and availability of food.
There is no feeding in the pupal process, but the pupa still has to breathe air on the surface of the water and is sensitive to light, shadows, and other disturbances.
Pupae are also physically active to escape to deeper water by rolling or tumbling action, which is why they are commonly referred to as tumblers.
The pupal stage lasts from 112 to 4 days, during which the skin of the pupa splits along the back, allowing the newly formed adult to emerge slowly and rest on the water surface.
Generally, the male adult mosquito will first emerge and linger near the breeding site, waiting for the females.
Due to high adult mortality rates, mating happens rapidly after emergence.
As much as 30% of the adult population can die on a daily basis.
By laying large numbers of eggs to assure the continuation of the species, the females compensate for this high rate.
On average, male mosquitoes live for only 6 or 7 days, feeding primarily on plant nectar and not taking blood meals.
Females with an adequate food supply can live up to 5 months or longer, with about 6 weeks being the average female life span.
In addition to plant nectar, the female usually has to take a blood meal to nourish and develop the eggs.
Female mosquitoes locate victims through the carbon dioxide and other trace chemicals exhaled and the temperature patterns they produce.
Mosquitoes are highly sensitive to carbon dioxide, amino acids, octanol, and several chemicals.
The average flight range of the female mosquito is between 1 and 10 miles, but some species can travel up to 40 miles before a blood meal is taken.
The female will oviposit (lay) its eggs after each blood meal, completing the life cycle. While some species oviposit only once, others in the course of their lives may lay eggs several times.
Mosquito Body Parts
In this section, we will discuss parts of a mosquito and their uses in detail. The Mosquito Body Parts are mainly divided into three parts as shown in the diagram below.
Now let us discuss in detail these body parts of a mosquito.
There are various organs in the head that help mosquitoes eat, see, and smell.
Antennae: It is long feather-like organs that detect carbon dioxide from the breath and air circulation of a human.
Eye: Mosquitoes have two big, movement-detecting compound eyes.
Palps: These organs detect odour between the antennae.
Proboscis: This mouth section pierces the skin of a human or animal in female mosquitoes and sucks out blood. The proboscis of a male is not strong enough to pierce the flesh, and so male mosquitoes do not feed on blood. The proboscis is used by both female and male mosquitoes to feed on flower nectar and fruit juices.
Thorax acts as a connection between the head and abdomen. The thorax is aligned with the wings and legs. Thorax further has six important parts.
Halter: A small wing-like organ used when flying for steering.
Wing: Mosquitoes have two wings that are used to fly.
Leg: Mosquitoes, like other insects, have six legs.
Femur: The top portion of the leg.
Tibia: Part of the middle leg.
Tarsus: The end of the leg allows the mosquitoes to stand and walk on the water.
The abdomen attaches to the thorax and acts as a part of the respiratory system, the liver, the reproductive system. The abdomen has one important part which is Genitalia, where the female releases eggs.
Types of Mosquitoes
There are at least 2,700 documented species of mosquitoes in the world, with up to 3,000 recorded in some cases. So in these sections, we will study about a few important different types of mosquitoes and their origins
Asian Tiger Mosquito or Forest Mosquito (Aedes Albopictus)
This mosquito is native to Southeast Asia's tropical and subtropical regions.
However, in the past few decades, this species has spread through many countries by the transport of goods and overseas travel.
Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes Aegypti)
A mosquito that can transmit dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, Mayaro, and yellow fever viruses, and other agents of the disease is the yellow fever mosquito.
These mosquitoes have white markings on their legs and a marking in the shape of a lyre on the upper surface of its thorax.
Common House Mosquito (Culex Pipiens)
Culex pipiens is the most common mosquito in the northern regions of the US as it is called the northern house mosquito.
Arbovirus infections such as West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis, or St. Louis encephalitis, filariasis, and avian malaria are the diseases these mosquitoes carry.
Marsh Mosquitoes (Anopheles)
So far, approximately 460 species of Anopheles are known, while over 100 can transmit human malaria, only 30-40 are usually transmitted by Plasmodium parasites that cause malaria in humans in endemic areas.
Elephant Mosquito or Mosquito Eater (Toxorhynchites)
Elephant mosquitoes are a species of diurnal and sometimes relatively colorful mosquitoes, located about 35 ° north and 35 ° south worldwide.
This mosquito type includes the largest known mosquito species, up to 18 mm in length and up to 24 mm in wingspan.
Female mosquitoes bite people and animals to get blood for their meals. Most of the female mosquitoes cannot produce eggs without the blood. When a mosquito bites, a small red bump appears in that area. This happens because the mosquito uses a special mouth organ to pierce through the skin and then suck up the blood. While feeding, the saliva from the mouth of the mosquito injects into our body which causes the bump. The reaction to the mosquito’s bite varies from person to person. It can cause irritation, soreness to some people and can even prove fatal to some people.
Where Can be These Found?
The mosquitoes are generally found near stagnant water, where the female mosquitoes lay their eggs. The eggs can also be found in places like shallow ponds, marshes, etc.
Symptoms of a Mosquito Bite
The short-term symptoms of a mosquito bite are as follows-
Redness and soreness
Multiples bump on arms and legs
A mosquito bite can also spread diseases. Since mosquitoes are vectors, they carry diseases or infections from one person to another. Types of diseases spread by a mosquito bite as given below-
Chikungunya: This kind of disease is commonly found in Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Chikungunya is a virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, also called the Yellow Fever Mosquito. Symptoms of this virus include vomiting, fever, body pain, headache, tiredness, and a rash.
Dengue: This kind of disease is commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical climate regions. Dengue is a virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, also called the Yellow Fever Mosquito. Symptoms of this virus are that of the flu which includes vomiting, fever, body pain, headache, tiredness, and a rash.
Malaria: This is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. It is most commonly found in Africa, South Asia, and some parts of America. Malaria is a serious and fatal disease. If not taken preventive measures, it can even lead to death. The symptoms of Malaria include high fever, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, etc.
Zika: This disease is mainly found in Africa, America, Asia, and the Pacific region. Zika is a virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever Mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Forest) mosquito. Once a person is infected, the virus can be transmitted from that person to another person through sexual intercourse. Zika symptoms include a mild fever, headache, body pain, skin irritation, and redness in the eyes. If a pregnant woman is infected then the virus can also affect the unborn child.
Treatment of a Mosquito Bite:
Mosquito bites can be itchy and uncomfortable. Given below are some of the home remedies that one can use to cure the mosquito bite:
One should not scratch the bite as it can open the pores of the skin, exposing your skin to the infection.
Applying ice to the infected area can reduce the redness and soreness.
One can also apply aloe vera gel to the infected area. The acid present in the gel reduces the itching and the redness.
Antihistamine cream can also relieve the pain. One should consult a doctor before using the antihistamine cream.
Throw out the standing or stagnant water away. This is because mosquitoes lay their eggs here.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and full pants to stop the mosquitoes from coming towards your body.
One can also prevent a mosquito bite by sleeping inside a closed mosquito net at night.
Use mosquito repellents like cream, sprays at home as well as outside.
Interesting Mosquito Facts
1. What is the Lifespan of a Mosquito?
Ans: The lifetime of a mosquito depends primarily on the mosquito life cycle. Male mosquitoes live only for 3-7 days after hatching but female mosquitoes live longer than male mosquitoes. Depending on the species, humidity, temperature, and other factors, adult mosquito lifespan is around 2 to 4 weeks.
2. How Many Legs Does a Mosquito Have?
Ans: Mosquitoes belong to the insect class. So like all insects mosquitoes too have six legs.
3. Does a Mosquito Have a Brain?
Ans: Mosquitoes do have brains even though they are very small. Compared to the human brain, this organ is small, but it is enough to help mosquitoes see, fly, taste, and detect scents or heat.
4. What Attracts Mosquitoes to Humans and Animals?
Ans: Carbon dioxide gives insects the signal that blood is close, and when humans exhale CO2, we make it easy for these insects to locate humans and animals.
5. How many eggs can a female mosquito lay at a time?
Ans: A female mosquito can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant or standing water like marshes, ponds, pools, etc.