The mosquitoes are a family of small, midge-like flies: the Culicidae. Although a few species are harmless or even useful to humanity, most are considered a nuisance because they consume blood from living vertebrates, including humans. The females of many species of mosquitoes are blood-eating pests. In feeding on blood, some of them transmit extremely harmful human and livestock diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever and filariasis. Some authorities argue accordingly that mosquitoes are the most dangerous animals on Earth.
Mosquitoes belong to the same group as the true flies, Diptera. As such, they have a single pair of wings. They typically have long, thin legs and a head featuring a prominent proboscis. Mosquito bodies and wings most often are covered in tiny scales. Adult sizes may range from 3 to 9 mm.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Mosquitoes are best known for the habits of the adult females which often feed on blood to help generate their eggs. The lesser-known side is that mosquito adults, males and females, also feed on nectar from flowers. Their immature stages usually are located in standing, preferably stagnant, water. The larvae feed on variety of materials, depending on species. Most consume organic flotsam and tiny aquatic organisms. However, some species are predatory and will consume other mosquitoes. Adult mosquitoes prefer to be most active from dusk until dawn but can become active with sufficient cloud cover or in dark shady areas. They do not prefer to be active in the sunshine since they may dessicate and die.
Heard High-Pitched Buzzing of Mosquitoes?
We have all had to deal with mosquitoes. The high-pitched buzz, caused by the rapid beating of their wings, tells us that we have mosquitoes nearby, and that we should beware, since mosquito bites might not be far behind. Mosquitoes can chase us indoors during the best time of the year. Is there anything short of staying indoors that you can do to take back your outdoor living space around your home? Orkin Mosquito Service can help.
Mosquitoes or Flies?
Mosquitoes can be confused with flies. Mosquitoes have long legs, and a long proboscis or “nose” that female mosquitoes use to “bite” people and pets to draw blood, needed to lay eggs. Most flies won’t bite and even long-legged flies are usually much smaller than mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are pesky pests and can spread disease such as West Nile Virus, dengue and malaria. More commonly, though, mosquitoes threaten family events more than health.
Males have feathery antennae they use to locate females. After mating, females typically seek a blood meal to aid in egg production. She often lays them in standing pools of water, but manmade sources can include bird baths, buckets and even mud puddles. Egg numbers vary from species to species but can be as much as over 100 eggs in a single laying. Wormlike larvae, called wigglers because of their wiggling swimming motion, hatch. They feed until ready to molt into pupae. The pupae are called tumblers, again due to their tumbling motion in the water. Adults emerge from the pupae onto the water surface where their exoskeleton hardens.
Signs of a Mosquito Infestation
Annoying signs of mosquito activity include the buzzing of the females and their bites. People have differing reactions to bites, ranging from mild irritation to intense inflammation and swelling. Signs of the immatures are their presence in standing water, which also can include watering dishes of containerized house plants.
Female mosquitoes have piercing mouthparts through which they extract the blood of a host. The protein from gathered blood is used in egg production. Male mosquitoes do not have the ability to extract blood from a host.
While not particularly painful, the bite of a mosquito can prove dangerous to humans through disease transmission. When a mosquito inserts her proboscis through the skin, her saliva creates a small, red bump. These bumps produce mild to severe itching. Some people may become less sensitive to mosquito saliva through repeated exposure, while others may develop allergic reactions. Symptoms of an allergy include blistering and inflammation, as well as asthmalike reactions. Mosquitoes also carry diseases such as yellow and dengue fevers, malaria and encephalitis and are capable of passing them from host to host.