Mosquito

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Category: Animal Info Pages


Before we get started, let's all take a quick moment to be grateful mosquitoes don't get as big as the target you're about to mosquitoshoot!

Mosquito is a very broad term referring to the family Culicidae, which is actually comprised of over 3,500 different species.  The oldest known mosquito found sharing any type of anatomy similar to modern species was located in Canada, encased in amber dated to roughly 79 millions years ago.  The name "mosquito" comes from the Spanish/Portuguese word mosca, meaning "fly" with the addition of the diminutive term "ito".

Akin to all other flies, mosquitoes go through four stages of development- egg, larva, pupa, and adult.  Some species of mosquito can reach adulthood in as few as five days.  The adult lifespan of the mosquito can range from just one week to several months, if given the proper conditions. 

Mosquitoes will lay eggs in or near almost any water source, including salt water marshes.  Mosquito larva have even been found thriving in the digestive juices of the insectivorous pitcher plant.  Some mosquitoes can even hibernate (diapause) in solid ice to emerge again when the ambient temperature is warm enough for them.  They are voracious breeders, and are found everywhere on Earth except Antarctica.

As just about everyone knows, mosquitoes consume blood from vertebrates (like people), but not all mosquito species suck blood.  In those species that do consume blood only the female is responsible, the males prefer sugary liquids like nectar from plants.  Mosquitoes are specifically attracted to carbon dioxide.  People who breathe heavily, have higher body temperature, have an increased amount of skin bacteria, those who are pregnant, and amazingly- people with type-O blood all attract mosquitoes.  The fact that mosquitoes feed on blood makes them very dangerous potential transmitters of diseases like malaria and yellow fever.

Many scientists actually condone the eradication of mosquitoes altogether, suggesting that it would not have a serious impact ecologically.  Of course, one must wonder what would come of so many species that feed primarily on mosquitoes.  In any event, a female mosquito must receive a full blood meal prior to making eggs, so slap away!