- Common Name(s): Mosquito
- Order: Diptera
- Family: Culicidae
- Common Species: Aedes albopictus, Culex spp.
- Commonly Confused With: Crane flies, Midges
How to Identify?
Mosquitoes are generally ½ inch to 1 inch in length. They have small heads, long slender legs, and bodies/wings that are usually covered in teeny tiny scales. On the head of the mosquito, you will find two antenna and a piercing/sucking proboscis (mouthpart). One trait that can help identify mosquitoes and other biting and non-biting flies is that they have only one pair of wings and a set of halteres (flight stabilizers that look like small maracas) underneath the wings.
Where do they live?
As most people are probably all too familiar: mosquitoes live outside. When they are juveniles (larvae), mosquitoes live in areas of stagnant/standing water around your home. All it takes is one cap full of water to hatch close to 100 adult mosquitoes. Other areas of standing water can include but are not limited to: old tires, water bowls, birdbaths, tree holes, gutters, and flowerpots. As adults, mosquitoes typically live on tall grass, trees, shrubs, and other foliage.
What do they eat?
Female mosquitoes feed primarily on nectar but they also feed on the blood of humans, birds, and domestic and wild animals to gain nutrients used for producing eggs. Males feed exclusively on nectar but can be seen flying around people or animals when trying to find a mate.
What do they do?
Mosquitoes are a major problem due to all of the diseases they can transmit. When taking a blood meal, female mosquitoes can transfer malaria, West Nile encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, zika, chikungunya, dengue fever, yellow fever, and many more. While not all of these diseases are prevalent in the United States there are enough transmittable diseases present to make mosquitoes dangerous. Humans are not the only creatures at risk; mosquitoes can also transfer heartworms to cats and dogs. Most mosquitoes are active at the hours of dusk or dawn, but there are some diurnal (active during the day) species of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are the most dangerous animal in the world. While there are some mosquito species that do not need a blood meal many species will feed on blood, which means they are capable of transferring disease. Another fact to make mosquitoes more interesting is that they are actually a type of biting fly!
See the attached links for even more information!
Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist
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