Mosquitos are one of the most harmful pests in the world. They can transmit diseases to livestock and humans and are well known for their ability to transmit the west Nile virus, dengue, yellow fever, and malaria. These and other diseases have been responsible for the deaths of many thousands of animals and people over the centuries.
There are over 3500 species of mosquitos in the world and they are part of the fly family. Some species of mosquitos are harmless and most species of mosquitos are quiet happy to feed on nectar and plant juices. However, in some species of mosquitos the female has developed mouthparts that are designed to pierce the skin of animals and suck their blood. To prevent the blood from clotting the mosquito has developed anticoagulants that are mixed with the mosquito’s salvia. It is usually this salvia that is host to the various diseases that mosquitos transmit to animals and humans. Many of the mosquito species consume blood from living vertebrate animals such as humans.
Mosquitos have a four stage life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. In general the female mosquito will lay her eggs in or near water. Different mosquito species have different ecological adaptations and some may lay their eggs in salt water and others in fresh water. Despite the high mortality of eggs and young mosquitos, a single mature pair of mosquitos can produce thousands of adult offspring in a matter of weeks. In addition, some species have developed a unique method of egg hatching that boosts the survival of some offspring. Most species of mosquitos have eggs that hatch more or less at the same time. This means the larvae are all vulnerable at the same time to mosquito control techniques. However, other species have eggs that hatch intermittently over a period of time. Therefore, their larvae are developing over an extended period of time making them much more difficult to control.
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