What do mosquitoes look like?
Mosquitoes, like all insects, have three body parts, six legs, and antennae. They have a pointed abdominal tip and clear wings with dark scales.
Aedes females are typically dark with white markings and banded legs. The piercing-sucking mouthparts (proboscis) are shorter than the palp, feelers. The proboscis and body move in two axes.
Anopheles mosquitoes lack scales on their bodies having hairs instead. Males have bushy antennae compared to females. The piercing-sucking mouthparts (proboscis) and palp (feelers) are equal length, and the proboscis and body move in one axis.
Life cycle of mosquitoes
Eggs are laid on the surface of water and hatch in 1 to 3 days. In temporary water environments, the Aedes female may lay eggs well in advance of the water’s presence, and the eggs hatch once water occupies the cavity. Anopheles will lay eggs in larger bodies of water surrounded by vegetation, and their eggs will have floats on either side of it. Larvae are aquatic, filter feeders and develop in 7 to 10 days. Pupae float on the water’s surface like a raft for 1 to 3 days then an adult emerges completing development from egg to adult in 10 to 16 days. This process begins to repeat within 28 hours after the adult emerges, but females will not lay eggs without taking a blood meal. Males need nectar and plant juices. The adult lives less than one month. Fertilized females will overwinter, emerging on warm days to feed, and lay eggs in the spring.
Habits of mosquitoes
- Diet: Nectar, plant juices, blood
- Activity: Aedes – near breeding sites. Anopheles – 2 miles from the breeding site. Most species fly higher than 5 feet.
- Preferred Climate: Humid, temperate climate.
- Defense: Release an anti-coagulant into wounds preventing blood from clotting so they can suck their food more easily.
- Cautions: Principal vectors of Yellow Fever, Dengue, West Nile Virus and Encephalitis. Any body of water regardless of size is a potential site for the egg to pupa development. Females will bite.
- Home Invasion: Mosquitoes may come through openings in the home to find a breeding site or
food. Encounters will most likely be in yards.
Are mosquitoes dangerous?
Mosquitoes are a threat to human and pet health transmitted West Nile virus and other illness. What infected mosquitoes spread does vary by species though.
Aedes aegypti are the main type of mosquito that spread Zika, dengue, Chikungunya, and other viruses. The Anopheles mosquito, also known as the malaria mosquito, transmits malaria but also dog heart worm.
Where do mosquitoes breed and rest?
Mosquitoes breed in standing water and rest in tall grass, dense overgrowth, and shady areas.
Helpful hints for mosquitoes
In order to make your property less appealing to mosquitoes, you should:
- Eliminate standing water
- Clear away any items that are potential water carriers
- Sign up for professional pest control services
Interesting facts about mosquitoes
The construction of the Panama Canal was delayed not only by financial setbacks but by diseases: Yellow Fever and Malaria, spread by mosquitoes to canal workers. Fumigation was a treatment method used.
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