Mosquito Biology

Mosquito Life Cycle

All mosquitoes go through the same general life cycle; a complete metamorphosis of egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Mosquito eggs are laid singly or in clusters on water or in mud and debris near water prone areas. Tiny larvae hatch from the eggs and develop in the water. The larvae feed on a variety of microorganisms and organic matter in the water, and develop through four larval stages to the pupal stage. The pupal stage is a resting and transformation time when the mosquito doesn't feed but changes from the larval (wiggler) to the adult flying insect. Adult mosquitoes emerge from the pupal stage and fly away.

The adult female mosquito then generally takes a blood meal and lays her eggs in the same type of habitat that she hatched in. The time needed for this cycle can vary from species to species, ranging from a few weeks to a full year.

What habitats (water source) produce mosquitoes?

All mosquitoes develop in standing, stagnant water. Many species need a specific type of water. Some prefer dark protected areas such as tree holes or tires. Many mosquitoes develop in temporarily flooded areas such as spring snowmelt pools, flooded fields or small drainage ditches.

Large open bodies of standing water such as lakes, ponds or open swamps produce relatively few nuisance mosquitoes.

How many types of mosquitoes are there?

There have been over 60 species of mosquitoes recorded in Michigan. Midland County itself has nearly 45 different species. Some are very common and others are found only occasionally. The important thing to remember is there are very many different mosquito species occupying a wide variety of niches.

Why do mosquitoes bite?

Female mosquitoes bite to get blood; the protein in the blood is used to develop eggs. Many mosquitoes are as picky about what type of blood they need as they are about the type of standing water the larvae need to develop. Some prefer birds, others mammals and some prefer reptiles and amphibians. A single female mosquito may take many blood meals in a single season.

Both male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar and plant juices. Male mosquitoes do not take blood meals.

Why do mosquito bites itch?

When a female mosquito bites she injects a small amount of saliva into the host to prevent the blood from coagulating. This causes a reaction in the skin that can range for a slight itch to inflammation or allergic reactions. People's reactions vary much from individual to individual.

Type of Mosquito Preferred Habitat Season Impact on Man
Spring Floodwater Temporary woodland pools Spring Long-lived persistent biters
Summer Floodwater Ditches, flooded fields, temporary water Summer Persistent biters often in large numbers throughout the season
Culex Organic, permanent water Spring, through fall Involved in disease transmission cycles
Coquillettidia Permanent cattail swamps Mid-summer Persistent late evening feeders.  Possibly involved in disease transmission.
Anopheles Clean permanent type water, ponds, deep ditches Mid to late summer Will bite human and transmit disease in many parts of the world.