photo by Rainer Hungershausen CC BY-NC-ND

Mosquitoes are small (up to .5in) flying insects with a tube-like mouthpart. They have one pair of narrow wings and long, thin legs. There are 3,500 types of mosquitoes world-wide and very few of them bite humans. They can be found throughout North America wherever there is water for them to lay their eggs. They're active year-round in tropical or sub-tropical areas and in summer in temperate or cold climates.

Mosquitoes eat nectar and other plant sugars, but the females suck blood to provide protein for their eggs. They home in on their blood hosts using carbon dioxide, body odors, temperature, and movement. Many mosquitoes prefer horses, cattle, and birds to humans.

The eggs hatch into larvae in approximately 48 hours. The larvae shed their skin 4 times, growing larger with each molt, before changing into pupae. During the pupal stage, they will transform into adult mosquitoes, splitting their skin when they are ready to emerge. The newly emerged mosquito rests on the surface of the water to dry out and harden.

Did you know? Mosquito larvae are known as wigglers or wrigglers. Although they spend much of their time at the surface of the water, they will wiggle their way to the bottom of the body of water if they sense movement. The pupae are known as tumblers as they move by scooping up water with paddle-like projections at the base of the abdomen (similar to lobsters). They breathe through a trumpet-like tube on their thorax (chest).

See Also: Crane Fly