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What is a Mosquito?

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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.


Mosquito Classification

In this section, we will discuss mosquito taxonomy details.

  • The Kingdom of Mosquito is Animalia.

  • The Phylum is Arthropoda.

  • Mosquito belongs to Class Insecta.

  • The Order of Mosquito is Diptera.

  • The mosquito 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:

  • Mosquito Eggs

  • The larval stage (Aquatic)

  • Pupal stage (Aquatic)

  • Adult Mosquitos 

The life cycle of mosquito diagrams gives the pictorial representation of mosquito growth and development.


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Let Us Discuss in Detail the Mosquito Life Cycle.

Mosquito Eggs

  • 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.

Larval Stage

  • 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 siphon, 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.

Pupal Stage

  • 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.

Adult Mosquitos 

  • 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.

  • Head

  • Thorax

  • Abdomen

Now let us discuss in detail these body parts of a mosquito.

Head

There are various organs in the head that help mosquitoes eat, see, and smell.

1. Antennae

It is long feather-like organs that detect carbon dioxide from the breath and air circulation of a human.

2. Eye

Mosquitoes have two big, movement-detecting compound eyes.

3. Palps

These organs detect odour between the antennae.

4. 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

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.

1. Halter

A small wing-like organ used when flying for steering.

2. Wing

Mosquitoes have two wings that are used to fly.

3. Leg

Mosquitoes, like other insects, have six legs.

4. Femur

The top portion of the leg.

5. Tibia

Part of the middle leg.

6. Tarsus

The end of the leg allows the mosquitoes to stand and walk on the water.

Abdomen

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.


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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

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Elephant Mosquito or Mosquito Eater (Toxorhynchites)

  • Elephant mosquitoes are a species of diurnal and sometimes relatively colourful 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.

Interesting Mosquito Facts

1. What is the Lifespan of a Mosquito?

Life time 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?

Mosquitoes belong to the insect class. So like all insects mosquitoes too have six legs.

3. Does a Mosquito Have a Brain?

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?

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.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is a Mosquito?

Ans: Some of the most adaptable and competitive insects on Earth are mosquitoes and are found in some remarkable locations. Virtually any natural or man-made water collection will enable the development of mosquitoes.

2. What is the Scientific Name of Mosquitoes?

Ans: Mosquitoes belong to the family Culicidae.

3. How Many Species of Mosquitoes are Located in the World?

Ans: There are approximately 3,000 species of mosquitoes worldwide.

4. What are the Stages of the Mosquito Life Cycle?

Ans: All mosquitoes have four stages of the life cycle:

  • Mosquito Eggs

  • The larval stage (Takes place in water)

  • Pupal stage (Takes place in water)

  • Adult Mosquitos