MOSQUITO (Family Culcidae)
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WHAT IS AN INSECT? A mosquito is an insect. This means it has no backbone, has six legs, and has three body parts (head, thorax (middle), and abdomen (back end). It also means that mosquitoes go through a metamorphosis or series of changes while theyre growing up. Mosquitoes start as eggs, then become larvae (called wrigglers), then become a pupa, then become an adult.
WHAT IS A MOSQUITO? While it doesnt look much like a fly, the mosquito is a kind of biting fly. There are many different kinds of mosquitoes, and each prefers to live in its own special habitat. For example, the most aggressive mosquito at the Pelotes Island Nature Preserve is a Salt Marsh Mosquito and has long striped legs!
WHY DO MOSQUITOES BITE? Only the females bite and suck blood. They use the blood proteins to make their babies. The males are nectar-feeders and do not bite. Mosquitoes usually bite the most at dawn and dusk. During the day, they just rest on hollow trees, stumps, or ditches. They dont usually fly more than 1 mile from their resting spot. The females usually suck blood from mammals, including people.
HOW DO THEY REPRODUCE? Two or three days after the female mosquito has eaten, she can lay about 200 eggs on the surface of the water. This water can be in a puddle, a pond, or even a salt marsh. The eggs float around until they stick to some grasses. It usually takes 2-3 days for the babies (wrigglers) to hatch. They eat very tiny plants and animals in the water. After they have eaten enough, the wrigglers become a pupa. Inside the pupa, they change from a wriggler into an adult mosquito in less than a week. Some female mosquitoes survive the winter, but many only live for 25 days. Often, the males only live for a week.
CAN MOSQUITOES TRANSMIT DISEASES? Mosquitoes can transmit some diseases like West Nile Virus and encephalitis to people and heartworms to dogs. They can NOT transmit AIDS because their stomachs digest the AIDS virus as food. By digesting it, the mosquito kills the virus, so it cant be passed on.
HOW CAN YOU AVOID MOSQUITO BITES? The best way to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes is to wear insect repellent when you are outside in the spring, summer, and fall. They are attracted to carbon dioxide, which is in the air we breathe out. If youre in an area with lots of mosquitoes, try talking less. This will produce less carbon dioxide and make you less attractive to the mosquitoes.RESOURCES:
McGavin, George C. Am. Nature Guides to Insects.
: Smithmark Publishers Inc., 1992. New York
Milne, Lorus and Margery. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders.
: Chanticleer Press, Inc., 1995. New York
Provided by the Pelotes Island Nature Preserve
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