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Mosquito (Various spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Mosquito

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The ubiquitous Mosquito is both a valuable food source and a colossal human nuisance in rainy and wet areas around the world.

Updated: 05/13/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
One could say that most humans loathe Mosquitoes on a personal level. They bite, leaving itchy red spots that can take days or weeks to resolve. They buzz about faces and heads, flying close to ear canals. Swarms loiter above and around doorways. They are carriers of serious and lethal diseases for humans and other animals. For all that there is to dislike about a Mosquito, there is one major reason to appreciate having them around: food. Mosquitoes are abundant, especially in humid regions and tropical areas. This makes them a readily available meal for reptiles, amphibians, birds, bats, crustaceans, fish, and loads of other insects.

The Mosquito is a type of fly. An adult Mosquito has long legs, a long narrow abdomen, and a proboscis. Its wings are short and transparent. It looks clumsy in flight, but can be difficult to catch in the air. Females are the biters; males only drink nectar. Females need the protein found in blood to make eggs, so while they also drink nectar, hemoglobin is still necessary for reproduction. Mosquito saliva contains chemicals that slow the clotting of blood. A female can quickly fill a special stomach with blood if the host has high blood pressure, which helps pump blood out faster once the mouth parts have pierced skin.

Females lay fertilized eggs in still water or at the edge of it. Water sources can include a quiet pond, a puddle of water in a tire, or an uncovered rain barrel. Once eggs hatch, larvae feed on algae and bacteria. As pupae, they float just under the surface of the water, often in groups. Adults can live from 5 to 14 days in nature.

In the process on taking blood, the mosquito can passively transmit viruses and other disease-causing agents into the host's bloodstream. Malaria, dengue and yellow fever, Zika and West Nile virus, tularemia, and elephantiasis are diseases spread by Mosquito bites. Because these diseases are a threat to public health and safety, population control and management strategies exist in many parts of the world. Chemical spraying, larvicide tablets for ponds and lagoons, and campaigns to eliminate standing water from residential and corporate properties all aim to reduce population sizes. Personal protective measures like applying a repellent and using outdoor candles and products with citronella help reduce bites.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Culicidae
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 6mm to 13mm (0.23" to 0.51")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; black; white
Descriptors: biting; itchy; long; flying; nuisance

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 6mm (0.2in) and 13mm (0.5in)
Lo: 6mm
Md: 9.5mm
Hi: 13mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Mosquito may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Mosquito. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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