Mosquitoes (or mosquitos) are members of a group of almost 3,600 species of small flies within the family Culicidae. The mosquito life cycle consists of egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages. Eggs are laid on the water surface; they hatch into motile larvae that feed on aquatic algae and organic material. These larvae are important food sources for many freshwater animals, such as dragonfly nymphs, many fish, and some birds such as ducks.
Mosquito, the most common insect in the world described by Pritish Kumar in his below article.
The adult females of most species have tube-like mouthparts (called a proboscis) that can pierce the skin of a host and feed on blood, which contains protein and iron needed to produce eggs. Thousands of mosquito species feed on the blood of various hosts — vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and some fish; along with some invertebrates, primarily other arthropods.
The mosquito’s saliva is transferred to the host during the bite, and can cause an itchy rash. In addition, many species can ingest pathogens while biting, and transmit them to future hosts. In this way, mosquitoes are important vectors of parasitic diseases such as malaria and filariasis, and arboviral diseases such as yellow fever, Chikungunya, West Nile, dengue fever, and Zika.
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematoceran flies: the Culicidae. Superficially, mosquitoes resemble crane flies (family Tipulidae) and chironomid flies (family Chironomidae).
Mosquitoes have been classified into 112 genera, some of the more common of which appear below.
In most species, adult females lay their eggs in stagnant water: some lay near the water’s edge while others attach their eggs to aquatic plants. Each species selects the situation of the water into which it lays its eggs and does so according to its own ecological adaptations. Some breed in lakes, some in temporary puddles. Some breed in marshes, some in salt-marshes.
Among those that breed in salt water (such as Life cycle, some are equally at home in fresh and salt water up to about one-third the concentration of seawater, whereas others must acclimatize themselves to the salinity. Such differences are important because certain ecological preferences keep mosquitoes away from most humans, whereas other preferences bring them right into houses at night.
Eggs and oviposition
Mosquito habits of oviposition, the ways in which they lay their eggs, vary considerably between species, and the morphologies of the eggs vary accordingly. The simplest procedure is that followed by many species of Anopheles; like many other gracile species of aquatic insects, females just fly over the water, bobbing up and down to the water surface and dropping eggs more or less singly.
The bobbing behaviour occurs among some other aquatic insects as well, for example mayflies and dragonflies; it is sometimes called “dapping”. The eggs of Anopheles species are roughly cigar-shaped and have floats down their sides. Females of many common species can lay 100–200 eggs during the course of the adult phase of their life cycles. Even with high egg and intergenerational mortality, over a period of several weeks, a single successful breeding pair can create a population of thousands.
The mosquito larva has a well-developed head with mouth brushes used for feeding, a large thorax with no legs, and a segmented abdomen.
Larvae breathe through spiracles located on their eighth abdominal segments, or through a siphon, so must come to the surface frequently. The larvae spend most of their time feeding on algae, bacteria, and other microbes in the surface microlayer.
Mosquito larvae have been investigated as prey of other Dipteran flies. Species such as Bezzia nobilis within the family Ceratopogonidae have been observed in experiments to prey upon mosquito larvae.
They dive below the surface when disturbed. Larvae swim either through propulsion with their mouth brushes, or by jerky movements of their entire bodies, giving them the common name of “wigglers” or “wrigglers”.
Larvae develop through four stages, or instars, after which they metamorphose into pupae. At the end of each instar, the larvae molt, shedding their skins to allow for further growth.
As seen in its lateral aspect, the mosquito pupa is comma-shaped. The head and thorax are merged into a cephalothorax, with the abdomen curving around underneath. The pupa can swim actively by flipping its abdomen, and it is commonly called a “tumbler” because of its swimming action. As with the larva, the pupa of most species must come to the surface frequently to breathe, which they do through a pair of respiratory trumpets on their cephalothoraxes.
They do not feed during this stage; typically they pass their time hanging from the surface of the water by their respiratory trumpets. If alarmed, say by a passing shadow, they nimbly swim downwards by flipping their abdomens in much the same way as the larvae do. If undisturbed, they soon float up again.
After a few days or longer, depending on the temperature and other circumstances, the dorsal surface of its cephalothorax splits, and the adult mosquito emerges. The pupa is less active than the larva because it does not feed, whereas the larva feeds constantly.
The period of development from egg to adult varies among species and is strongly influenced by ambient temperature. Some species of mosquitoes can develop from egg to adult in as few as five days, but a more typical period of development in tropical conditions would be some 40 days or more for most species. The variation of the body size in adult mosquitoes depends on the density of the larval population and food supply within the breeding water.
Adult mosquitoes usually mate within a few days after emerging from the pupal stage. In most species, the males form large swarms, usually around dusk, and the females fly into the swarms to mate.
Males typically live for about 5–7 days, feeding on nectar and other sources of sugar. After obtaining a full blood meal, the female will rest for a few days while the blood is digested and eggs are developed. This process depends on the temperature, but usually takes two to three days in tropical conditions. Once the eggs are fully developed, the female lays them and resumes host-seeking.
The cycle repeats itself until the female dies. While females can live longer than a month in captivity, most do not live longer than one to two weeks in nature. Their lifespans depend on temperature, humidity, and their ability to successfully obtain a blood meal while avoiding host defenses and predators.
The length of the adult is typically between 3 mm and 6 mm. The smallest known mosquitoes are around 2 mm (0.1 in), and the largest around 19 mm (0.7 in). Mosquitoes typically weigh around 5 mg. All mosquitoes have slender bodies with three segments: a head, a thorax and an abdomen.
The head is specialized for receiving sensory information and for feeding. It has eyes and a pair of long, many-segmented antennae. The antennae are important for detecting host odors, as well as odors of breeding sites where females lay eggs. In all mosquito species, the antennae of the males in comparison to the females are noticeably bushier and contain auditory receptors to detect the characteristic whine of the females.