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Mosquito Biology

Bug Lady posted this on Oct 11, 2016


    • Small, long-legged, 2-winged insects
    • Differ from other flies in having 2 characters in combination:
      • Elongate proboscis
      • Scales on wing veins and wing margin

Mosquito Life History

      • Four distinct stages in life cycle
        • Egg
        • Larva
        • Pupa
        • Adult
      • 1st three stages occur in the water
      • Adult is an active flying insect

Mosquito Life History: Eggs

  • Mosquito eggs fall into 3 distinct groups
    • Laid singly on the water surface
    • Glued together to form rafts which float on water surface
    • Laid singly out of the water
  • Differences reflected in structure of egg

Mosquito Life History: Larvae

  • Live in water and have 4 instars
  • Wigglers or wrigglers
  • Adapted to all kinds of aquatic habitats (except flowing streams and open large water areas)
  • Get food from water in which they live
  • Must come to surface for air
  • Mosquito larvae have bodies that are covered with bristles.
  • They have a siphon at the tail end of the body
  • The siphon permits the larvae to breathe by penetrating the surface of the water and allowing the larvae to breathe
  • Oils (Larvicide Oil) and monomolecular films (Arosurf) prevent the larvae from breathing; they die from suffocation.
    • Larvicide Oil
    • Aerosurf >>

Mosquito Life History: Pupae

  • Mosquito pupae also have bristles on their bodies.
  • Some of these bristles allow the pupae to float directly below the surface of the water.
  • The pupae breathe by using their respiratory “trumpets” to draw air directly from the atmosphere.
  • Pupae can be killed by cutting off their access to the atmosphere with Oils (Larvicide Oil) and monomolecular films (Arosurf)
    • Larvicide Oil
    • Aerosurf >>

Mosquito Biology Adults

  • Three Sub-Families
    • Anopheles
    • Aedes
    • Culex


  • Eggs with floats
  • Larvae lay parallel to surface (they lack a breathing tube)
  • Palps long
  • Adult Resting Position 400-900


  • Eggs laid in rafts on fresh water such as pools, ditches, and ponds
  • Adult Resting Position parallel to surface


  • Eggs deposited singly
  • Larvae angle down 450
  • Palps short
  • At rest low and flat

Mosquito Breeding Habitats

  • Temporary Woodland Pools
  • Roadside Ditches
  • Freshwater Ponds
  • Artificial Containers
  • Tree Holes
  • Freshwater Marshes
  • Hardwood and Coniferous Freshwater Swamps

Floodwater Mosquitoes (Temporary Pool)

  • Includes most pestiferous species known
  • Deposit eggs in damp soil at water line (undergo conditioning process or drying before hatching)
  • Eggs hatch when they are flooded by water (installment hatching)
  • Extended flight range
  • Readily feed on humans
  • Attack at all hours of day (most active at dusk and dawn)

Mosquito Habitats: Floodwater


  • Shaded depressions
  • Open or shaded pools
  • Open depressions
  • Ditches

Mosquito Habitats: Container Mosquitoes

  • Preference for laying eggs in artificial containers like tires, pet bowls, and bird baths
  • “Domestic” mosquitoes
  • Deposit eggs either on water surface in container or at water line on sides of container
  • Limited flight range (about a city block)
  • Important disease vectors in U.S.

Mosquito Habitats: Container Mosquitoes


  • Tires
  • Pet bowls
  • Buckets
  • Bird baths
  • Cemetery urns
  • Tree holes

Permanent Pool Mosquitoes

  • Larvae complete development in permanent or semi-permanent bodies of water (>3 weeks)
  • Examples include
    • Lakes, reservoirs
    • Ponds
    • Swamps
    • Marshes
    • Sewage lagoons
  • Develop continuously throughout season of development
  • Limited flight range, usually feeding at dusk and for several hours into night

Mosquito Habitats: Permanent Pool

  • Habitat
  • Lakes
  • Reservoirs
  • Swamps
  • Ditches
  • Stream pools
  • Marshes
  • Wetlands

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Reason mosquitos are a problem

  • Their blood feeding habits
    • Only females blood feed
      • Bites cause stress
      • Secondary infections
      • Disease
      • Interference with human activities (recreational and industrial development)

Mosquitoes and Disease

Three types of Mosquito transmitted diseases

  • Malaria
  • Arboviruses
    • Yellow Fever, Dengue, SLE, WNV, EEE
  • Filariasis
    • Dog Heart Worm

Mosquito Biology: Arboviruses

Mosquito-borne viruses are part of a group of pathogens known as arthropod-borne viruses, or arboviruses. Blood-sucking insects usually spread arboviruses.


Require a host (usually a bird or small mammal) in which they maintain themselves in nature and a vector, such as a mosquito, to get around and infect other organisms.

Female mosquitoes may ingest a virus from an infected host and later pass the infection in their saliva when they bite another animal. Of the animals on which mosquitoes feed, birds are among the best-known hosts for arboviruses.

Wild and domestic birds are the most common vertebrate hosts for the West Nile virus, thus making the disease extremely mobile. Crows, chickens, pigeons, and hawks are among those carriers of the virus which once infected and cross state lines are bitten by a local mosquito which bites a local crow, you get the point. Movement is rapid. Quarantine is next to impossible.

Humans and other animals such as horses are dead-end hosts for most arboviruses; they do not pass the virus to others or back to mosquitoes.

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