Mosquitoes (alternate spelling mosquitos) are a group of about 3,500 species of small insects that are flies (order Diptera). Within Diptera they constitute the family Culicidae (from the Latin culex meaning “gnat”). The word “mosquito” (formed by mosca and diminutive -ito) is Spanish for “little fly“. Mosquitoes have a slender segmented body, one pair of wings, one pair of halteres, three pairs of long hair-like legs, and elongated mouthparts.
Like all flies, mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycles: egg, larva, pupa, and adult or imago. The first three stages—egg, larva, and pupa—are largely aquatic. Each of the stages typically lasts 5 to 14 days, depending on the species and the ambient temperature, but there are important exceptions. Mosquitoes living in regions where some seasons are freezing or waterless spend part of the year in diapause; they delay their development, typically for months, and carry on with life only when there is enough water or warmth for their needs. For instance, Wyeomyia larvae typically get frozen into solid lumps of ice during winter and only complete their development in spring. The eggs of some species of Aedes remain unharmed in diapause if they dry out, and hatch later when they are covered by water.
Eggs hatch to become larvae, which grow until they are able to change into pupae. The adult mosquito emerges from the mature pupa as it floats at the water surface. Bloodsucking mosquitoes, depending on species, sex, and weather conditions, have potential adult lifespans ranging from as short as a week to as long as several months. Some species can overwinter as adults in diapause.
The mosquito life cycle consists of egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages. Eggs are laid on the water surface; they hatch into motile larvae that feed on aquatic algae and organic material. The adult females of most species have tube-like mouthparts (called a proboscis) that can pierce the skin of a host and feed on blood, which contains protein and iron needed to produce eggs. Thousands of mosquito species feed on the blood of various hosts — vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and some fish; along with some invertebrates, primarily other arthropods. This loss of blood is seldom of any importance to the host.
A FEW STEPS TO HELP YOU WITH MOSQUITOES
Below are a few steps, along with trained pest control professionals, you can take to help rid your home or business of an mosquito invasion.
In most species, adult females lay their eggs in stagnant water: some lay near the water’s edge while others attach their eggs to aquatic plants. Each species selects the situation of the water into which it lays its eggs and does so according to its own ecological adaptations. Some breed in lakes, some in temporary puddles. Some breed in marshes, some in salt-marshes. Among those that breed in salt water, some are equally at home in fresh and salt water up to about one-third the concentration of seawater, whereas others must acclimatize themselves to the salinity. Such differences are important because certain ecological preferences keep mosquitoes away from most humans, whereas other preferences bring them right into houses at night.
Some species of mosquitoes prefer to breed in phytotelmata (natural reservoirs on plants), such as rainwater accumulated in holes in tree trunks, or in the leaf-axils of bromeliads. Some specialize in the liquid in pitchers of particular species of pitcher plants, their larvae feeding on decaying insects that had drowned there or on the associated bacteria; the genus Wyeomyia provides such examples — the harmless Wyeomyia smithii breeds only in the pitchers of Sarracenia purpurea.
However, some of the species of mosquitoes that are adapted to breeding in phytotelmata are dangerous disease vectors. In nature, they might occupy anything from a hollow tree trunk to a cupped leaf. Such species typically take readily to breeding in artificial water containers. Such casual puddles are important breeding places for some of the most serious disease vectors, such as species of Aedes that transmit dengue and yellow fever. Some with such breeding habits are disproportionately important vectors because they are well-placed to pick up pathogens from humans and pass them on. In contrast, no matter how voracious, mosquitoes that breed and feed mainly in remote wetlands and salt marshes may well remain uninfected, and if they do happen to become infected with a relevant pathogen, might seldom encounter humans to infect, in turn.
Mosquito bites lead to a variety of mild, serious, and, rarely, life-threatening allergic reactions. These include ordinary wheal and flare reactions and mosquito bite allergies (MBA). The MBA, also termed hypersensitivity to mosquito bites (HMB), are excessive reactions to mosquito bites that are not caused by any toxin or pathogen in the saliva injected by a mosquito at the time it takes its blood-meal. Rather, they are allergic hypersensitivity reactions caused by the non-toxic allergenic proteins contained in the mosquito’s saliva. Studies have shown or suggest that numerous species of mosquitoes can trigger ordinary reactions as well as MBA. These include Aedes aegypti, Aedes vexans, Aedes albopictus, Anopheles sinensis, Culex pipiens, Aedes communis, Anopheles stephensi, Culex quinquefasciatus, Ochlerotatus triseriatus, and Culex tritaeniorhynchus. Furthermore, there is considerable cross-reactivity between the salivary proteins of mosquitoes in the same family and, to a lesser extent, different families. It is therefore assumed that these allergic responses may be caused by virtually any mosquito species (or other biting insect).
The mosquito bite allergies are informally classified as 1) the Skeeter syndrome, i.e. severe local skin reactions sometimes associated with low-grade fever; 2) systemic reactions that range from high-grade fever, lymphadenopathy, abdominal pain, and/or diarrhea to, very rarely, life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis; and 3) severe and often systemic reactions occurring in individuals that have an Epstein-Barr virus-associated lymphoproliferative disease, Epstein-Barr virus-negative lymphoid malignancy, or another predisposing condition such as Eosinophilic cellulitis or chronic lymphocytic leukemia.