Mosquito Life Cycle
The name mosquito is Spanish for "little gnat". It is a derivative of "mosca", the Spanish word for fly.
Mosquitoes are the most common and significant bloodsucking insects in the entire world. Mosquitoes have inflicted more pain and suffering on human beings than any other animal on earth. Approximately 320,000,000 human cases of mosquito borne disease with 2 million deaths occur each year worldwide. There are over 2500 different species of mosquitoes throughout the world of which
150 species occur in the United States. And in a Florida, and especially here in Tampa Bay we have our share of disease carrying mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes must have water to complete their life cycle. The type of water in which the mosquito larva is found can be an aid to identification of its' species. All adult mosquitos show a distinct preference for the types of water sources in which they lay their eggs. They lay their eggs in such places as tree holes that periodically hold water, Tidewater pools in saltwater marshes, sewage affluent ponds, irrigated pastures, rainwater ponds, even the birdbath or gutter in your backyard. Each species therefore has a unique environmental requirement for the maintenance of its lifecycle.
Mosquitoes undergo a complete lifecycle, which means they go through four stages; eggs, larva, pupae, and adults. Mosquitoes complete their life cycle in about 10 to 14 days in the summer months. Female adult mosquitoes are usually the only ones that feed on blood. They have a piercing sucking mouth part kind of like a needle suction tube, from which they extract blood from their
victims. For normal metabolic function, plant juices and nectars from plants provide the required energy nutrients. A blood meal is the process from which protein is extracted from a host. This protein is the used in the egg production of the female. It is during this feeding process that pathogens are introduced into a victim's blood stream.
Mosquitoes often stay within a short distance of where they emerged from the water, although some species are capable of flying up to 5 miles or more and can be easily dispersed by the wind, Mosquitoes prefer to stay close to the ground and seldom range far from home. It seems as though the sole purpose of a female mosquito is to lay eggs and make more mosquitoes.
A female can produce over 1,500 eggs before she finally completes her life cycle. Even in the wintertime as the temperature falls, mosquitoes can hibernate through the colder months. They can be found in sheltered places like cellers, crawlspaces, sewers, storage sheds, garages and barns, places where they will be out of the weather until things warm-up. When the temperature rises
sufficiently, the fertile female goes forth for bloodsucking meal to start the lifecycle over again. An adult female mosquito can actually survive for up to six months.
Mosquitoes can lay eggs anywhere. After the female mosquito has been fertilized by the male mosquito, she will seek out a suitable area to lay eggs. As you may well guess, water is the first choice. Any type of water: from flowerpots to lakes, from yard drains to inland creeks, from not holes and trees to saltwater marshlands and everywhere in between that might be a cool, moist, shaded area is a likely spot for egg laying. Female mosquitoes were usually lay their eggs at night, and bundles of 100 to 300 eggs called rafts. If not late in water, the eggs may survive for months waiting to be submerged by seasonal rains entitle increases. You can anticipate large hatches a mosquitoes within 7 to 10 days after submersion in water.
Probably the greatest indicator for coming onslaught of mosquitoes is the larval stage. If you've ever picked up a pot of water that accumulated rain in your backyard and seeing all those little wigglers you know adult mosquitoes are right around the corner. Mosquito larva may live in water from 7 to 14 days depending on the temperature. Most of the growth of the mosquito takes place during the larval stage, as it will shed their skins at least four times as they grow. Mosquitoes can be identified as to their species during the larval stage based on their activity and feeding habits. Many of the mosquito control districts, aggressively treat juvenile mosquitoes in the larval stage.
In the pupal stage, prior to emergence as an adult, mosquitoes are very active. There are commonly called tumblers because of the bouncing activity as seen in the watery environment. Depend upon temperature the the pupae stage will last from 1 to 4 days. In the pupal stage, the juvenile mosquito is encased in a cocoon like structure which splits open to allow the pupae to emerge and harden is an adult mosquito.
Adult mosquitoes emerge as both male and female of course. The male mosquitoes feed on plant nectar to build energy. Once mature, the male will mate with a female mosquito, and live for less than a week to 10 days. The female mosquito on the other hand, may live for months. From one breeding encounter the female mosquito can lay up to 1500 eggs throughout her lifetime. The female mosquito also uses plant nectar for energy, but protein for the development of the eggs comes from a warm-blooded host: birds, wild animals, domestic livestock, your pets and you. Adult mosquitoes can be found all over the world, but most live in tropical and subtropical climates like Florida, and especially the Tampa Bay area. All female mosquitoes feed on human blood if given the opportunity. We are all at risk!
The life span of the mosquito varies widely. One third of the adult population dies off daily, with males living 1 to 2 weeks, yet females may survive for six months or more. Environment is the key factor in the longevity of an adult mosquito. During the warm what months of late spring to early fall, a female mosquito will reproduce 3 to 5 generations in a very short timeframe. Our Tampa Bay environment, is a perfect environment for mosquito proliferation.