Mosquitoes are insects of the order Diptera, meaning “two-winged.” There are over 2,500 species and they certainly are widespread. You can find them breeding in hot tropical pools or cold Arctic waters!
Mosquitoes go through four stages: (1) egg, (2) larva, (3) pupa, and (4) adult. Through the ovipositor in the abdomen, the female may lay some 100 to 300 eggs on a single occasion. Certain species form eggs into a raft of sorts, held together by a substance the female emits. The eggs may be laid in a marsh or even a little pool in a ditch or a hollow log. Hatching may occur in two or three days, except for species like the pond mosquito. Some of its eggs, deposited in a dried-up pond, do not hatch until they have been soaked three times. Otherwise, they might hatch during a brief wet period and the larvae would perish when the pond became dry again. Floodwater mosquitoes lay eggs in mud resulting from a flood, and these do not hatch until another flood has occurred, possibly after years have passed.
Frequently called the wriggler for its movements through the water, the larva of the mosquito is wormlike in appearance. Around its mouth are tiny hairs that sweep in food—minute plants, single-celled creatures called protozoans, and even other wrigglers. To breathe, some mosquito larvae push a sort of snorkel or air tube above the water. In one swampland species, however, the air tube is pointed and the larva jabs it into a cattail, sedge or other plant to obtain oxygen. Many mosquito larvae molt, or shed their skins, four times in some four to ten days.
After the final molt, the creature becomes a pupa. It breathes through tubes on its thorax that are sent above the water’s surface. In certain species, these tubes are used to obtain oxygen from underwater plants. Because of the way the pupae of most mosquito species roll about, they are called tumblers. They eat nothing and undergo quite a change in a few days.
Emerging from the pupal shell is the adult mosquito. It begins flying after its wings dry. Mr. Mosquito may live only ten to twenty days and his ‘lady friend’ a month or more. Of course, life-spans vary according to species. Some female mosquitoes may survive the winter in your garage or barn.