When one hears the word mosquitoes, many thoughts could run in said person’s head. Such thoughts could be the West Nile virus, itchy bites, blood suckers, and so on. Fewer insects in this world elect more hatred and terror than the mosquito. They are probably the insect that keeps most pest controllers in business.
There are over 3,500 known species of mosquitoes. Only a couple hundred of these species are the ones that bother and bite humans. Mosquitoes run rampant on every continent on Earth and have been around far longer than most common known humans and creatures, with some species of mosquitoes dating back over 100 million years. Like a fly, mosquitoes have four life cycle stages: egg, larva, pupa, and imago. As an egg, they are attached to either stagnant water or aquatic plants by their mothers, depending on the species. Females can lay 100 to 200 eggs, again depending on the species. Eggs normally do not hatch until they are flooded with water. Once hatched, the larva stage commences. As a larva, they live in the water but tend to stay close to the open air, as they cannot breathe long underwater. They feed off algae, bacteria, and other creatures who live on the surface of the microlayer, which is the surface area between the water and air.
Past the larva stage, the mosquito moves into the pupa stage. Like the larva, the pupa stays close to the open air to breathe. If they feel threatened, they will swim down further and wait for the danger to pass before floating back up. Pupa do not eat.
From egg to imago (adult stage), it can either take as few as five days or 40 days and longer, depending on the species of mosquito. As an adult mosquito, males typically live only a week while females can live up to two weeks. Because of this, mosquitoes usually mate quickly after developing out of the pupa cycle. It is only the female mosquito that feeds off the blood of humans or animals, as she will need the blood to produce eggs. Most males solely rely on nectar and other forms of sugar.
Because the female needs blood to produce eggs, this is where mosquito-borne disease come into play. Some of the more well-known disease mosquitoes can carry are yellow fever, the zika virus, malaria, and tularemia. The most common in the United States are the West Nile virus and the Eastern equine encephalitis virus.
In North Carolina, mosquito season usually falls between April and October. There are some 60 species of mosquitoes in the state, with the common three being the Northern House Mosquitoes, Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, and Eastern Saltmarsh Mosquitoes. Northern House Mosquitoes commonly breed in sewers, ditches, and ground pools. They commonly come out at night and are known to possibly carry the West Nile virus. Asian Tiger Mosquitoes come out during the night and day and are most likely to breed in flowerpots and bird baths. They might carry the Zika virus. While the Asian Tiger Mosquitoes and the Northern House Mosquitoes are known to live all over the state, the Eastern Saltmarsh Mosquitoes only live on the coastal side of the state. According to an article published in USA Today, Charlotte and Raleigh were named on the list for worst cities with mosquitoes.
The best way to get rid of mosquitoes is to either remove the larva and pupa from standing water sources or use insecticide spraying to kill the adults. However, with the effects of global warming, many experts believe that the mosquito population will only continue to grow. Looks like exterminators are going to stay in business for a very long time!