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From Mosquito Larvae to Adult Mosquitoes

Although most people know that mosquitoes are a hindrance, ruining picnics, spoiling camping and other outdoor activities with their itchy bites, many of us may not be aware of their interesting four-part life cycle. How does this insect morph from mosquito larvae to an annoying adult pest?

A female mosquito will lay her eggs on the water’s surface only after she has been able to bite a person or animal as her eggs require blood for nourishment. She is not selective; she deposits her eggs on any standing source of water, including sewer water, ponds, house gutters, and even garden pots that have accumulated rainwater. While a mosquito lays many eggs, they are laid one at a time. Within a couple of days, the eggs hatch and become mosquito larvae.

Mosquito Larvae - Culex SpeciesLarvae
Once the mosquito larvae have hatched, it spends between 7 and 14 days bobbing just beneath the water’s surface. However, it does come to the top to breathe through small tubes which are called siphons. As the larvae progresses, it goes through four stages of molting, the shedding of its skin. The successive stages between each shedding are called instars. Thereafter, the mosquito larvae become a pupa.

This stage of the mosquito’s life cycle lasts between 1 and 4 days. Unlike the mosquito larvae that rested beneath the water’s surface, the light pupae float to the top and remain there. Like larvae that breathed through siphons, pupae breathe through tubes called trumpets. This a resting phase; the pupae do not eat. When the fully developed mosquito breaks the pupa case, it emerges as an adult.

The adult mosquito does not fly away immediately after emerging from the pupa case as it must rest on top of the water for a certain amount of time in order to dry and wait for its body to harden. The length of time that this process takes depends on the type of mosquito.

A Tip or Two
The best way to prevent mosquito larvae from developing on your property is to remove all sources of standing water.

  • A water fountain should be turned on at some point each day.
  • The water in a bird bath or dog bowl should be changed every day.
  • Children’s plastic pools should be emptied and allowed to dry after each use.
  • Turn over pots, buckets, garbage lids, and all outside containers in order to avoid collecting rainwater.

An Interesting Fact
Beside the fact that a mosquito’s life cycle is fascinating, it is equally interesting to note that there are more than 2500 different types of mosquitoes around the world. Within the United States alone, there are about 150 types of mosquitoes.


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