Mosquitoes are universally hated all over the world and are the bane of most of the civilized world. These little pesky disease-carrying insects make a living by drawing the blood out of anything that moves, including humans. However, several expert entomologists state that though mosquitoes cause aggravatingly itchy bites, these biting insects are a rather spectacular group of insects. Read on to understand what makes these creatures interesting and why are mosquitoes so dangerous.
How Do Mosquitoes Bite?
We have all been bitten by mosquitoes, some of us more than others. But do we know what mosquitoes do to humans? Mosquitoes are far more multifaceted and complex than most of us would ever imagine. Often termed as a flying syringe, the mosquito uses its proboscis (elongated appendage from the head of an animal) to suck blood from any living being or animal. The mosquito cuts the skin using its proboscis to suck the blood. As the mosquito is feeding, it injects its saliva into the skin of the human or animal it is feeding on. The body then reacts to the saliva resulting in itching or a bump. Some people have only a mild reaction to a mosquito bite.
Where Do Mosquitoes Live?
Mosquitoes can live and breed in almost any setting or environment, except for the extreme cold weather. They favor marshes, forests, weeds, and tall grasses, and also ground that is wet for at least part of the year. Also, the body of a mosquito changes radically throughout its lifecycle. As a result, these creatures need diverse conditions to live and survive, depending on their development stage. However, the most important thing that a mosquito habitat must always comprise is a form of water supply. Water offers mosquitoes a place to lay eggs and develop and grow through their water stages (egg, larval, and pupal). Post the airborne part of their life cycle; the female mosquitoes return to the water to lay a fresh batch of eggs. Female mosquitoes primarily lay their eggs on the water surface or in areas where the water can rise and flood the eggs. This water then stimulates the eggs to hatch into larvae. Mosquito larvae resemble tiny wriggling worms swimming around in sources of standing water and are often termed as “wigglers.”
How Long Do Mosquitoes Live?
If you wonder how long mosquitoes live, you have most probably been bitten by a mosquito. Did you know that certain people indeed attract mosquitoes more than others? After the female mosquito bites and draws blood, she lays her eggs at a place prone to stagnant or flooding water. This sets into motion the life cycle of new mosquitoes. When checking and at the typical lifespan of mosquitoes, the first thing you should know is that female mosquitoes live longer than their male counterparts. Also, female mosquitoes are the only mosquitoes that can bite and suck on your blood. A female mosquito can live for around one or two months (which can at times be the complete mosquito season). That said, various other mosquito types survive in areas such as attics and garages for close to six months. The average adult female mosquito can survive up to 40-53 days. That means one female mosquito can probably live in your house for close to two months. Outside, mosquitoes can only survive in temperatures over 50°F, but preferably 80°F. Adult male mosquitoes have a smaller lifespan, and they can only live for close to 10 days.
Do note that these approximate lifespans of mosquitoes are only valid in suitable conditions for mosquitoes and differ from species to species. When essentials such as adequate food sources, protection, and places to lay eggs are taken away, one can drastically shorten the lifespan of a mosquito.
What Do Mosquitoes Eat?
All adult mosquitoes feed on the honeydew or nectar of plants to receive sugar, providing sufficient nourishment for female and male mosquitoes to survive. However, females need to produce eggs and to create these eggs, the female mosquitoes require protein, which they receive from the blood of animals. Few mosquito species can store sufficient energy as larvae to create eggs when they are adults without requiring blood as food. The blood can come from mammals, humans, reptiles, frogs, or birds – however, most mosquitoes prefer a few specific sources. Some mosquitoes live only near humans to bite them and create eggs, while others bite animals or livestock first. One of the most deadly mosquito facts is that after the female mate draws her first meal of blood and lays her eggs, she immediately begins scouting for another drink of blood to create another batch of eggs without mating again. If the female mosquito survives, she may continue doing this several times in one summer.
Dengue is a viral infection borne by mosquitoes found in tropical and sub-tropical climates, mostly in urban and semi-urban, worldwide. Dengue fever can be transmitted only by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The incubation period for this viral infection ranges between four and fourteen days after being bitten by the infected mosquitoes.
How Do Mosquitoes Communicate?
Do mosquitoes communicate? Well, the answer is yes! Various studies indicate that both female and male mosquitoes communicate through each other’s flight tones. Both the male and female mosquitoes adjust to each other’s tone to check if they are well-matched mates; thus, they sort of “tune in to each other.” Except for the shrill whine of their wings, most species make no sound audible to man.
Life Cycle of a Mosquito
You may know how butterflies have to go through different stages before they can emerge from their cocoons and fly. Just like butterflies, the life cycle of an average mosquito can also be broken up into four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult.
- Egg Stage: It is the first stage of a mosquito’s life. When a female adult mosquito completes drawing on blood, she tries to find a suitable area to lay her eggs.
- Larvae Stage: The mosquito eggs typically hatch within 48 hours, and the mosquitoes inside enter the second stage, i.e., the larval stage
- Pupal Stage: The third stage of a mosquito’s development following its life as a larva is the pupal stage. The pupal stage lasts around two days.
- Mosquito Stage: After emerging from the pupal shell, they develop into male or female mosquitoes.
Other Facts and Information About Mosquitoes for Children
If you have young ones at home, keep reading to know some more fun facts about mosquitoes for preschoolers:
- Mosquito is Spanish for “little fly.”
- Mosquitoes can be found in all continents, except Antarctica and a few locations with polar and sub-polar climates.
- Mosquito bites can result in itching in humans. This happens because a mosquito’s saliva is an anti-coagulant and gets transferred to the skin of living creatures that mosquitoes cite.
- Female mosquitoes that feed on blood favor a specific host.
- One of the interesting anopheles mosquito facts is that the members of the Anopheles genus are known to transmit malaria.
Mosquitoes can multiply in stagnant water whenever it stands for four to seven days. In warm temperatures, breeding can happen even faster. Removal of stagnant water is an excellent first step towards decreasing the number of mosquitoes in your environment. However, mosquito habitats can be hard to remove altogether, as nearly any water source can serve as a breeding ground for these disease-carrying insects.