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Mosquito life cycle

The life cycle of the mosquito lasts from one to several weeks, depending on the temperature of the environment and the particular species’ characteristics.

The life cycles of mosquitoes vary widely from species to species. Some female mosquitoes lay single eggs on water surfaces; others lay single eggs on moist soil where later flooding is likely. Still other species lay batches of eggs, called rafts, 100 or more at a time on water surfaces. Eggs deposited on water surfaces usually hatch within a day or so, but eggs laid on soil surfaces do not hatch until flooding occurs, which may be months or even years later. Larvae, which are nearly invisible to the naked eye, hatch from eggs. Larvae molt three times to become 4th-stage larvae. Several days later, this larval form molts again to become a pupa. Adult mosquitoes emerge from pupae 1 to 2 days after that, with male mosquitoes always emerging first. In summer the entire life cycle, from egg to adult, may be completed in a week or less.

The mosquito’s life cycle occurs in the following 4 stages:

Mosquito life cycle - 1. Egg

All species of mosquitoes lay their eggs in a variety of water sources, ranging from small containers and gutters to vast areas of marshland. Generally, female mosquitoes lay their eggs on the water’s surface. She can either lay her eggs one at a time or in a grouping called a raft every 10 to 14 days. Most eggs can survive the winter and hatch in the spring.

Mosquito life cycle - 2. Larva

Within two days of being laid, the mosquito eggs hatch into larvae. The larvae live at the surface of the water and breathe through an air tube called a siphon. As they grow and develop, the larvae shed their skin several times. If disturbed, the larvae can swim and dive away from the surface of the water.

Mosquito life cycle - 3. Pupa

In the final underwater stage of development, the larvae develop into pupae. This process lasts anywhere between four and fourteen days. The pupae float to the surface of the water and breathe through two small tubes called trumpets. At the end of this stage, the pupae encase themselves within a pupal case where they transform into adult mosquitoes.

Mosquito life cycle - 4. Adult

While in the pupal case, the adult uses air pressure to break open the encasing. The fully developed mosquito then crawls to a protected area and rests while its external skeleton hardens. Once dry, the adult mosquito flies away to feed and seek a mate. While males feed on plant juices with their shorter mouth parts, females feed on human and animal blood with their longer mouth parts (proboscis). After feeding, the females lay their eggs. This cycle will continue for as long as the female lives (anywhere from a few days to many weeks.)

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