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Mosquito Biology

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Common Mosquitoes of Galveston County

Mosquitoes go through a complete metamorphosis life cycle and contain 4 separate and distinct stages. Egg, Larva, Pupa and Adult.

Egg

Females deposit their eggs in various methods and locations. Some species lay their eggs singly in damp soil or locations that are subject to flooding. The eggs will then hatch when water levels rise and the eggs are submerged. Other species will lay their eggs directly on water either singly or in rafts. Rafts are simply several eggs “stuck together” by a hydrophilic cap. Other methods include laying eggs singly with air filled floats attached or attaching eggs to vegetation undersides.

Larva

Larvae live in the water and are mostly filter feeders. Most species have a special air tube that allows them to hang from the surface of the water while breathing. Some attach themselves to the surface and absorb air through their body. While others attach themselves to aquatic plants and breathe through the plant stalks. Larvae will molt 4 times during their larval stage. This involves 4 instars with a molt between each instar. The 4thinstar will change into a pupa.

Pupa

Pupae also live in water. They are the last stage before the mosquito becomes an adult. Pupae breathe by attaching themselves to the surface and breathing out of two siphon tubes attached to the head. Pupae are often called tumblers because they have a comma shape body and tumble when disturbed. They do not eat or molt.

Once the process is completed the pupa will return to the surface of the water and the casing will spilt thus the adult emerges.

Adult

After the adult emerges from the pupal casing the adult will rest on the water’s surface for a brief time. This allows the wings and body to dry and harden. Males are the first to emerge, females emerge shortly after. Each species has its own characteristics and behaviors. Some take longer to go through their complete metamorphosis. Generally under ideal conditions mosquitoes will complete their metamorphosis within 7 days.

Development Rate

There are many other factors involved in the life cycle of mosquitoes that aren’t mentioned above. These can include incubation times for eggs, the amount of time needed after a blood meal for egg production, or the seasonal presence of a species. These are several things that we take into consideration. All mosquitoes need calm waters for egg production. So running water from water draining or running creeks isn’t included in breeding sites. It is also important to know that just because it rained today doesn’t mean we will have mosquitoes tomorrow. It’s a longer process then you think.