Mosquito Biology

Over 40 different species of mosquitoes have been identified from Cape May County. In many, but not all, cases female mosquitoes require proteins and nutrients from blood to produce eggs. Additionally, some females are very particular about the kind of host blood they require. For instance, there are some mosquitoes that will only take blood from birds, some only from reptiles and some that aren’t as particular and will utilize whatever host is most available. It is important to note that only female mosquitoes require blood and that it is not food for them, but is only used to produce eggs.
The Mosquito Life Cycle
Mosquitoes, both male and female, feed on nectar, and other carbohydrates as a food source. After a female takes a complete blood meal, she will find a quiet place to rest and in the course of a few days convert the blood to eggs. Different species of mosquitoes deposit eggs in different ways.
Mosquito Eggs
Mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles deposit single eggs that float on the water’s surface. Aedes and Ochlerotatus mosquitoes also lay single eggs; however, their eggs aren’t laid directly on the water’s surface. They prefer to lay their eggs just above the water line and as the water level rises during flooding events, the eggs hatch. Other mosquito species lay groups or clusters of eggs, often called egg rafts or egg boats.
Culex mosquitoes, for example, lay egg rafts on the surface of the water that may contain up to 300 eggs. Once a female mosquito is ready to lay eggs she must first locate a suitable habitat in which her young will prosper. While there is variation in mosquito life cycles, the 1 component that all of these insects require is an aquatic habitat for their immature stages. In other words, all mosquito babies must start out in water. The immature mosquito is termed a “larva” (singular) or “larvae” (plural), hatch from their eggs within hours and begin filter feeding on decaying plant matter.
Larvae are very active in their aquatic environment and have also been called “wrigglers” because of their almost constant wriggling movements. Larvae breathe at the water’s surface through a specialized tube or siphon. They are constantly moving between the surface, where they breathe, and the water's bottom, where they feed.

Within a few days to several months, they grow and pass through 4 growth stages known as “instars”. This developmental time is influenced most by water temperature.
Mosquito Larvae
Colder water will slow larval development dramatically. After the fourth-instar, the larva molts into a non-feeding stage called the “pupa” (singular) or “pupae” (plural). Pupae are slightly less active than larvae; however they can often be seen “tumbling” from the water’s surface if disturbed. Pupae, like larvae, breathe at the surface. While in the pupal stage, the mosquito larvae are changing or metamorphosing into the adult form, a process that requires several days to complete.
Adult Mosquito
The adult mosquito carefully emerges from the pupal case at the water’s surface and rests for a few hours so that its cuticle or skin can harden. Typically male mosquitoes will emerge first and wait near the emergence area for the females to emerge. After the females emerge, they will mate with several males over the course of 2 to 3 days. This brief mating period is all that is required for the life of the female.

About 1 week after emerging from the pupa, the adult females begin searching for a suitable host and subsequent bloodmeal.
Between bloodmeals, the female feeds on nectar from flowers. This sugar meal is necessary for the mosquito to sustain herself.

Although the male mosquito doesn’t seek a bloodmeal, it does require a sugar meal for sustenance as well. The females seek successive bloodmeals about every 2 weeks throughout their life. Adult mosquitoes are alive for several weeks to several months depending upon the species and environmental conditions.
Male Mosquito