If you want to know more about the mosquito life cycle, you probably understand that mosquitoes are among the most successful and adaptable insects on Earth and may be found in various unusual locations.
Mosquitoes belong to the families Culicidae and Diptera. They have been found in mines almost a mile below the surface and on mountain summits at 14,000 feet. There is a significant chance that mosquitoes will grow in your backyard if you know where to look. Any artificial or natural water collection might serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
So, how do those little insects manage to survive and live almost everywhere? Let’s explore the mosquito life cycle below and answer some significant questions.
4 Stages of the Mosquito Life Cycle
Although all mosquito species require standing water to breed, they may be found in a variety of settings. Some mosquito species are referred to as “floodwater” species because they reproduce in transient aquatic environments, whilst other mosquito species are referred to as “permanent water” species because they do so in permanent aquatic habitats. Other species’ evolution has been so specialized that they will only lay eggs in natural or man-made containers.
All mosquitoes go through the same four stages of the mosquito life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Keep in mind that the larval and pupal stages are always aquatic, regardless of their preferred breeding location.
Depending on the species, the female mosquito either deposits her eggs one at a time or in linked clusters known as “rafts.” The eggs are positioned either directly on the water’s surface, along its margins, in tree holes, or in other places that are vulnerable to flooding from rain, irrigation, or other natural causes.
Depending on the climate, certain species’ eggs may hatch within a few days after being laid. The precise period depends on the species. The egg stage is the first phase of the mosquito life cycle.
On the other hand, if the egg is deposited outside of water and is periodically flooded, the embryo may remain dormant for a number of years before the perfect natural hatching circumstances are fulfilled. Although certain species of mosquitoes may overwinter as larvae or adults, mosquitoes typically overwinter in the egg stage of the mosquito life cycle.
The larval stage starts when the egg hatches. Because they require air to breathe, the larvae of the majority of mosquito species are suspended above the water’s surface. From the larva’s posterior to the water’s surface, an air tube known as a siphon serves as a snorkel.
Filter-feeding larvae consume aquatic microorganisms close to the water’s surface.
The larvae have a protective mechanism that allows them to swim in a distinctive “S” motion when startled, earning them the nickname “wigglers.” Larvae expand their exoskeleton as they consume food, growing a new one in its place. Instars are the phases that occur in between these molts. This particular stage of the mosquito life cycle has 4 instars. The larval stage lasts between 4 and 14 days, depending on the species, the temperature of the water, and the availability of food.
Although there is no eating during the pupal stage of the mosquito life cycle, the pupa is still sensitive to light, shadows, and other disturbances and must still breathe air at the water’s surface.
Pupae use a rolling or tumbling motion to get away and into deeper water, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “tumblers.” Between 1 and 4 days pass during the pupal stage until the skin of the pupa breaks along the back, allowing the newly created adult to gently emerge and settle on the water’s surface.
The last stage of the mosquito life cycle is adulthood. Typically, the male adult mosquito emerges first and waits for the females close to the breeding spot. Due to the high adult mortality rates, mating happens rapidly after emergence. Every day, up to 30% of adults might pass away. To make up for this high rate, the females deposit a lot of eggs, ensuring the survival of the species.
The newly emerged adult spends a brief period of time floating on the water’s surface to allow all of its body parts to harden and dry. Before it can fly, the wings must fully stretch out and dry. After the adults emerge, blood feeding and mating do not start until a few days later.
Male mosquitoes can live for 6 to several days and solely consume plant nectar. They do not consume blood. Females typically survive approximately 6 weeks on average, although they can live up to 5 months or more if they have access to enough food.
The female typically has to consume a blood meal in addition to plant nectar to sustain and grow her eggs. She finds her victims by tracking the temperature patterns they create and the trace molecules they breathe, such as carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes are extremely sensitive to a number of substances, including octanol, amino acids, and carbon dioxide.
The typical female mosquito can fly between one and ten kilometers, while certain species can fly up to forty miles before feeding on blood. The female mosquito will oviposit (lay) her eggs after each blood meal, and the mosquito life cycle starts all over again. Some species only oviposit once, but others may do it several times throughout their lives.
The duration of each stage of the mosquito life cycle is influenced by both the species’ features and temperature. For instance, a common mosquito from California called Culex tarsalis may complete its life cycle in 14 days at 70 °F and in just 10 days at 80 °F. However, some species have evolved spontaneously to complete their life cycle in as few as four days or as long as one month.
What Do Mosquitoes Eat?
Only mature female mosquitoes bite people and other animals, making mosquitoes’ feeding habits highly unusual. Only plant liquids are consumed by male mosquitoes. Some females have specific references and only consume the blood of one particular animal. However, some species can consume the blood of different mammals and are not picky.
Some of the most preferred feeding sources of female mosquitoes are:
Before developing eggs and starting the mosquito life cycle all over again, the majority of female mosquitoes must feed on an animal to obtain an adequate blood meal. They will perish before producing viable eggs if they do not receive this blood meal. Some mosquito species, such as the Aedes species, have gained the ability to produce healthy eggs without consuming blood.
Flight Habits Of Mosquitos
The flying habits of mosquitoes depend on the species and may vary. Although some species noted for their migratory patterns are frequently a nuisance far from their breeding grounds, the majority of domestic animals remain quite close to their point of origin.
Typically, females have a wider flying range than males. The wind frequently has an important role in the movement, spread, and mosquito life cycle. The majority of mosquitoes remain a mile or two from their source. Some have been observed up to 75 kilometers from their breeding source, though.
In comparison to most other insects, mosquitoes fly differently, and they are not very good at it. They have smaller wings relative to the size of their bodies, and mosquitoes are exceedingly inefficient. Their wings have a far smaller range of motion.
Out of the 360 degrees needed to complete a full circle, the range of such circular motion is 44 degrees. The arc of a butterfly is 180 degrees. This implies that mosquitoes must beat their wings substantially harder in order to generate lift. They can do 800 beats per second.
When compared to other flying insects, that is roughly four times as much. They can hover thanks to this sort of motion and their little wings by creating a form of a vortex. This is quite energy-intensive. This is the cause of the unpleasant, high-pitched buzz you hear while they are flying over your head.
Interesting Facts About Mosquitos
- While both male and female mosquitoes eat nectar and plant sap, only female mosquitoes bite because they cannot create eggs without the protein found in human blood.
- During a meal, some female mosquitoes may consume the blood with the amount of their whole body weight.
- During the full moon, there might be a 500% increase in mosquito activity. This is because mosquitoes utilize visual cues to locate their next meal, which is simpler to achieve with a full moon.
- Mosquitoes just only need a minimal quantity of water to deposit their eggs. In fact, some mosquito species may reproduce in as little as a teaspoon of water.
Because they have scales on the veins of their wings and a large, piercing proboscis, mosquitoes may be easily distinguished from other flies. More than 3,000 mosquito species have been identified worldwide.
Mosquitoes are very intriguing creatures, and learning about them can be a very interesting thing to do. Above, we explored stages of the mosquito life cycle and also discussed some unique facts about those creatures.
Nato is a content writer and researcher with a background in psychology who’s eager to explore the wonders of nature. As a travel enthusiast and animal lover, she hopes to inspire others to discover and cherish the beauty and importance of the natural world.