A Brief History of the Mosquito
By: John Sern
The mosquito like all other insects has its well defined life cycle that basically starts in a water body. The life cycle starts with the egg, larvae, pupa and finally the adult.
Mosquitoes came into being over 175 million years ago, that is during the Jurassic epoch. Scientist have found fossilized mosquitoes that reach 5 centimeters, this is in contrast with the ones living that are 0.5 inches. Mosquitoes are closely related to the flies, as in they are of the order Diptera, and its sub-order is the Nematocera and is of the family Culicidae. There are 2500 species of mosquitoes worldwide that live in varied regions from the cold Tundra to the desert oases, all that mosquitoes need to be active is just a temperature of 12.7 degrees Celsius.
The mosquitoes like other insects mate, but they are like bees as they mate mid air, this action lasts for 15 seconds. The female will then lays the eggs; the mosquito’s eggs are drought resistant and have been known to stay for years. If the environment is conducive, the mosquito’s eggs will usually hatch after 2 to 3 days, some mosquito species will usually lay their eggs in clusters on the surface of still waters, and they are cigar shaped. At the first few days the eggs are white and very soft, with time they will harden and darken.
After the eggs are hatched, they will then become the larvae, this is the second phase of the mosquito’s metamorphosis, the larvae or referred to as the wriggler is very active and moves constantly, it moves up to the surface of the water to breath, this is done by the wriggler pushing out a breathing tube which is at the rear end of its body. It feeds on food particles, dead organisms, algae and plants’; feeding is with the aid of mouth brushes around the jaws.
Within 8 to 10 days, the larvae will become the pupa (plural- Pupae). They are comma shaped because the body and the thorax are curved into a ball, the abdomen will hang down like a tail. It moves by tumbling and rolling in the water. The pupa does breath with the aid of tubes that are trumpet shaped; these tubes are pushed out to the water surface. At this stage there is no feeding. The adult features will develop.
After the pupa, the adult is the final metamorphosis stage. The adult has three pairs of legs, compound eyes (the mosquito sees by the aid of heat detector), and a pair of wings. It is a misconception that all mosquitoes bite; rather only female mosquitoes will bite. The male mosquito usually feeds on sap from plants. The mosquito will usually transmit malaria, yellow fever or even dengue fever. It is however specifically the anopheles mosquito that will transmit malaria, this mosquito is characterized by pale marking on its body that make it appear stripped.
Mosquitoes are attracted to humans and other vertebrates by the carbon dioxide that is being expelled from the body, also uric, which is contained in sweat, will attract the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are usually active after dark and this is when they bite most.
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