Bugs are cool, right? Well, we don’t particularly think so. But either way, knowing the full lifecycle of a pest can help you better understand ways to prevent them. Welcome to our series of the pest life cycle. First up, mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are known for their blood-sucking, itch-inducing ways. They’re arguably one of the most annoying and hard to get rid of pests here in the Carolinas. In order to find out how to prevent these little guys from making you their meal, you must first educate yourself on how they operate. Let’s dig in (so to speak).
The Four Stages of a Mosquito’s Life
Mosquitoes looooooove water. In fact, the majority of their life cycle is completely dependent upon water. Standing water, in particular, is the breeding ground for mosquitoes. Places like ponds, ditches, or outdoor water bowls are common places for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Though they’ll even lay eggs in the strangest of places like the condensation on the inside of a tire. Weird, yes. But whatever there’s water, there’s mosquitoes!
In the beginning of a mosquito’s life cycle, the female lays anywhere from 50 to 100 eggs at a time. These eggs attach together to form a raft that, all together, is the size of a small piece of dirt. These rafts float on the surface of the water for up to 48 hours until they hatch and begin their next life form.
Getting rid of mosquitoes before they even have a chance to lay their eggs is the most effective
way to keep them out of your yard. Check out our blog on the importance of spraying your yard for mosquitoes and ticks
to learn more.
The larva stage of a mosquito's life cycle is the known as the ‘baby stage’. During this stage, the larvae nestle into their new cocoons and feed on things like algae, bacteria and other microorganisms in order to grow big and strong. In addition to eating everything in sight, the larvae are able to suck in oxygen through breathing tube-like structures in their tails.
During this stage, the larvae hang upside down in their cocoons and wiggle around in the water, moving themselves in a twitching motion. Yuck, right? In addition to eating and wiggling, the larvae molt around 4 times during this stage, growing bigger with each molt. This makes this stage of their life arguably the most significant when it comes to development.
Because they’re essentially suspended in the water during this time, the larvae are also at their most vulnerable when it comes to predators like fish, birds and other mosquito larvae. Because the larvae are so tiny, it’s hard for bigger predators (humans) to spot them. Unfortunately for us, we aren’t aware of a mosquito problem until they’re bigger or fully grown–making them harder to prevent.
Onto the “teenager” stage, and quite frankly the laziest stage of a mosquito’s life. During this time the mosquito is living at the surface of the water that it has been breeding in and is no longer feeding. The only thing the pupae are really doing during this time are sleeping and breathing in oxygen through two breathing tubes otherwise known as “trumpets”. Sounds like your average teenager, right?
Being the last cycle before they’re a full blown adult, the pupae are often large enough for humans to detect. And while these little guys are still subject to predators like fish and birds, this is the time in their life cycle when humans can spot them enough to get rid of them before they begin to fly. If you think you have mosquito pupae hanging out in water around your home, just a little drop of oil is enough to block their oxygen supply and kill them.
Alright, enough of the morbid stuff. Back to the life cycle of a mosquito.
The adult is made up of two large eyes, a thorax, a pair of wings, six jointed legs, an antennae and a proboscis–aka that thing they use to suck our blood. Who knew such a tiny insect had all these parts to it, right?
At the end of the pupa stage, the mosquito uses the air pressure in the cocoon to split itself in half and emerge as a full-blown mosquito. Woohoo! Well, not so fast. The adult mosquito actually rests on the surface of the water until its body hardens and its wings are ready to fly.
Once the mosquito is grown and ready for flight, it only has two things on its mind–breeding and feeding. Adult mosquitoes mate within the first few days of emerging from their cocoons.
Surprisingly, human blood isn’t the only thing that mosquitoes feed on. They also like plant nectar and fruit juice. Female mosquitoes, however, are the ones responsible for those itchy, scratchy mosquito bites we endure all summer, as they’re the only ones who feed on blood.
The complete cycle from start to finish can take anywhere from four days to a month, while the length of each phase is dependent upon the environment. For example, in cooler temperatures, the life cycle tends to take longer as compared to hotter temperatures that usually foster a 10 day cycle.
As you can see, mosquito populations grow rapidly and here in the Carolinas we’re no stranger to these blood-sucking pests. To keep mosquitoes away from your family and your home, it’s essential to start with mosquito prevention. Schedule your mosquito treatment today!