Mosquitoes are members of the insect order Diptera, meaning two wings. Mosquitoes undergo complete metamorphosis. This means they have a life cycle that includes four stages of growth. This begins with an egg stage and progresses through a larval stage, pupal stage and finally the adult stage. When the optimum environmental conditions exist for a particular species their eggs will hatch and the larval stage begins.
The larvae require water to live and if the source dries they will die. These larvae go through four growth periods called instars. This is when the larvae are growing and feeding. They then enter the pupal stage where they no longer feed and energy is directed towards production of the adult mosquito. The adult mosquito then emerges from the water. The males emerge first and hover around the site waiting to mate with the females.
The male mosquito does not bite; only the female does. The blood a female mosquito acquires though its bite is not a source of food, but a source of protein for egg production. The females may take several blood meals during its two to three week lifespan and may lay hundreds of eggs. Mosquitoes can occupy a variety of habitats such as woodland pools, brackish marshes or artificial containers, depending on the species. View detailed pictures and illustrations of the mosquito life cycle and habitats.
Mosquito control begins in your immediate environment. The vast majority of mosquito problems are the result of them being bred in one's own yard. The list below details many of the important practices to perform to keep mosquitoes from breeding around the home.
- Mosquitoes are not capable of spreading AIDS. Check out a detailed explanation of why they cannot.
- People are not always the primary blood hosts for mosquitoes. Many prefer to seek blood from birds and other mammals. The Arctic circle has very few people, but millions of mosquitoes.
- Most mosquitoes do not like to travel and will stay within a 1 mile radius of their breeding site.
- Mosquitoes locate their blood hosts through scent, sight and heat. They can detect our scent, especially the carbon dioxide we are exhaling, from up to 100 feet (30 meters) away. They can see you at a distance of about 30 feet (10 meters).
- Bug zappers kill very few mosquitoes, but kill numerous beneficial insects.
- There are over 3,300 mosquito species worldwide.
- Mosquitoes are responsible for more deaths throughout the world than any other living creature.
- Studies have shown that while bats consume a large number of insects, mosquitoes are a very small proportion of their diet.
- The itch of a mosquito bite is due to chemicals it injects to keep the blood from clotting.