Have you ever wondered about the life cycle of the mosquito? We’re talking about bugs that propagate like, well, mosquitoes–which means that they make a lot of mosquito babies. So how, exactly, do those baby mosquitoes get to be big mosquitoes that then go on to make more baby mosquitoes? Here are the highlights!
It’s no secret that mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, or at least someplace moist. It can be fresh or stagnant, in a pond or in a puddle; if there’s standing water then the mosquito can use it, though they generally favor water that is protected from the wind by grass or weeds. Certain types of mosquitoes then lay their eggs on the surface of the water at night, forming a “raft” of 100 to 300 eggs stuck together. To the naked eye, this raft can look like a speck of dirt. It’s about ¼ inch long and 1/8 inch wide. A female can lay an entire raft every third night during her lifespan.
Other types of mosquitos have been known to lay their eggs singly in damp soil and some even in dryer soil because they need to dry out in order to hatch. Regardless of how it happens, mosquito larva hatch within 24-48 hours, usually at the same time.
Mosquito larva lives in the water anywhere from 4 to 14 days, depending on the temperature. Even though they live in the water, they have to come to surface in order to breathe. Some types of larva can use their breathing tubes, or syphons, to pierce vegetation in the water and use it to get oxygen and nutrition. Speaking of nutrition, the larva must eat a lot in order to mature. They eat algae, plankton, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms. Basically, anything they can get their mouths gets consumed. Sometimes even other types of mosquito larva get eaten.
Larva molt, or shed their skin, four times. By the fourth time they have grown large enough to be considered a pupa. Pupa live in the water for 1 to 4 days. They float on the surface of the water and do not eat. If disturbed, they will dive for protection and then float back up to the surface. Once the pupal case splits, the adult mosquito emerges. It rests on the surface of the water until it is dry and its body hardens.
Now, the mosquito life cycle begins all over again, with female mosquitoes biting cold or warm blooded animals in order to reproduce. Can you hear “The Lion King” singing “The Circle of Life” now? Those lions probably provide a lot of meals for mosquitos.
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