The key to controlling mosquitoes is to understand how they develop, function, and survive. For a quick, enlightening, and interesting read, check out our Mosquito Facts!
Mosquito Life Cycle
Mosquitoes have 4 stages of development: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. If you’re a visual learner like me, here is very well done three minute video that shows the complete life cycle of a mosquito.
There are two different types of laying methods and eggs. Some eggs can be laid one at a time while some are grouped into “rafts”. Some rafts can contain up to 200 eggs! But what is most interesting to me are the two egg types: summer and winter. Unlike summer eggs that typically hatch within 48 hours, winter eggs can withstand subzero temperatures and remain dormant for months!
Despite developing in water, larva stage mosquitoes require oxygen. They either have siphon tubes for breathing or lie parallel to the water’s surface. Once breathing has been established, they will shed their skins four times. After each shed, the larva gets larger. In order to grow throughout this process, the mosquito larva feeds on microorganisms and organic matter floating in the water.
After fattening up to develop into a pupa, the mosquito enters into its resting, non-feeding stage. Think of a butterfly during the cocoon stage. The pupa is in the process of developing into an adult. Unfortunately for us, in about two days the pupal skin splits and the adult mosquito emerges.
Now as an adult on the water’s surface, the mosquito rests while its exoskeleton hardens and its wings dry. After getting acquainted with life outside of water, the mosquito seeks out its meal and mate. As an adult, all mosquitoes feed on nectar and decaying matter. Only the female mosquito needs a blood meal, which provides protein for her eggs!
This whole process can take as little as 4 days or as long as a month. The mosquito species, amount of water, and temperature all affect how long it takes for a mosquito to go from an egg to biting adult!
How Do Mosquitoes Survive the Winter?
I am constantly asked what happens to mosquitoes during the winter. I can tell you that they don’t take a vacation to the tropics and that the cold weather does not exterminate the mosquito population. The mosquitoes hide amongst us the whole winter.
While the cold weather may kill some mosquitoes (mostly males), the female mosquitoes find shelter in animal burrows, hollowed logs, and other shelters. They simply remain hidden until the weather permits them to come out. And as stated in the section above, their eggs remain viable and dormant all winter until spring arrives.
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