The Amazing Life of the Mosquito January 20, 2016
One of the biggest misconceptions about mosquitoes is that they can breed in ponds, streams and lakes. Fact is, they cannot and do not breed in any flowing water. Streams can produce a mosquito breeding area but only in the stagnant water of a stream bed that’s drying up. Any pond that has stagnant water along its shore line can produce mosquitoes also.
Oddly enough, artificial ditches and wheel ruts made by human activity as well as old tires filled with water and other water containing containers make perfect mosquito breeding environments. Amazingly, a small wheel rut can produce over a thousand mosquitoes in less than 2 weeks. The life cycle of a mosquito is considered the time a mosquito hatches from its egg until it comes out of the water as an adult, a life cycle for most mosquito species is usually 1 to 2 weeks. Any stagnant water that stays around for at least 1 week can provide mosquito breeding.
Mosquito Life Cycle
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in rafts (up to 200 eggs that are connected and float together) or as single eggs depending on the species. Most eggs will hatch in 48 hours; some species will freeze, go dormant for the winter and then hatch in the spring. After the egg hatches they have 3 more stages:
Larva: In this stage of development the mosquito larva lives in the water and either comes up above the water to breathe or uses a tube at its bottom to breathe while it hangs down from the surface of the water. Larvae (plural spelling) ingest organic matter and microorganisms in the stagnant water they make their home in. They shed their skin similar to reptiles, doing this 4 times and becoming larger each time they shed.
Pupa: During this stage of development the mosquito does not eat but is very mobile and can flip its tail to get away from predators. The mosquito turns into an adult during the pupal stage. When this part of the life cycle is finished the adult mosquito breaks through the skin.
Adult: The new adult mosquito floats on the top of the water so it can dry out; the wings must be spread and dried completely and its thorax and other body parts need to dry and harden before it can fly away. The new adult mosquito will not be ready to mate and feed on blood for at least 2 days.
The amount of time each stage of life lasts is dependent on the species and the temperature. Depending on these two factors, an entire mosquito life cycle can be as short as 4 days or as long as a month.
Mosquitoes want our blood to feed their offspring after they become impregnated, so it’s really a matter of perpetuation of the species for them. The attraction for animal and human blood is actually so strong that mosquitoes can sense human presence from a hundred feet away. Research has shown that mosquitoes are first attracted to CO2 emissions from people, which initiates the hunt for blood. They sense the CO2 at between 10 to 50 meters, then at 5 to 15 meters they sense you visually and at less than a meter, they can sense your body heat.
Now that we know a little bit about the mosquito’s life style, we can use this information to find ways to get rid of these pests. The best way to do this is to prevent them from breeding. They like both artificial and naturally occurring stagnant water to breed in, so it’s important to remove these from your property. Here’s a check list to remove possible breeding pools:
• Make sure outdoor pet water dishes are replaced with fresh water at least 2 times per week.
• Any low lying water areas on property need to be regraded to prevent pooling.
• Remove old tires and anything that can hold water.
• Remove refuse from clogged gutters and drains.
• Make sure water is changed out at least once a week from bird baths.