Mosquito Life Cycle
2. Laying Eggs
Despite all the different mosquito species and various mosquito habitats in Ocean
County, they all have at least one thing in common: all mosquito species require water to
complete their life cycle.
Mosquitoes have 4 different developmental stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.
Depending on the species, female mosquitoes will lay their eggs either on the
waters surface, the edges of emergent vegetation or damp soil depressions that will
become inundated by rain and or tide. The eggs can be laid singularly or in groups called
The eggs hatch into the aquatic life stage known as larvae. Larvae can swim
freely in their habitat and can move by wiggling from side to side. Even though larvae
live in the water, they must return to the surface frequently to breathe air. This is done
through a breathing tube called a “siphon.”.
Larvae grow by feeding on organic matter in the water. Growth is dependent on
the water temperature and development can take as long as several months or as fasi as
several days. As larvae grow, they go through 4 growth periods as instars, where their
exoskeleton is shed and they become larger. After the last molting stage (4th instar) the
larvae become pupae, beginning to prepare for adulthood.
The pupae are still an aquatic stage and must come to the waters surface to breath
air. This is done through structures called “trumpets”. The pupal stage is mobile and
move about by flapping their abdominal section, giving them a tumbling motion. This is
the stage where the mosquito undergoes metamorphosis in order to enter the flying adult
Once adult mosquitoes emerge, they rest on the rest surface in order for their
bodies and wings to “harden”. Shortly after this, adult mosquitoes will mate and the
females will fly off in order to seek a bloodmeal. A female mosquito finds her victim by
sensing several chemical compounds emitted by her prey. These include carbon dioxide,
lactic acid and skin oils. Heat can also act as an attractant. Most species of female
mosquitoes require a bloodmeal in order to finish development of her eggs. Once
developed, the female will lay between 100 to 200 in the appropriate breeding habitat.
Once egg laying is completed, she will host seek for another blood meal in order to lay
further batches of eggs.
This cycle will continue through the season and its length of time can vary with
the mosquito species, temperature, humidity, rainfall or other environmental factors.
Given that the mosquito is eaten or swatted, the average life span of an adult mosquito is
around 1-2 weeks. However, species that overwinter as adults, can live for 6-8 months.
Mosquito activity lessens with the onset of cold weather and must enter some sort
of hibernation to survive the winter. Some species overwinter by hibernating in the adult
stage however, the majority of species overwinter by remaining in the egg stage.
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