Our greatest enemies in the insect world are the mosquitoes. The little pests are always ready to attack us and leave us with a painful sting, A few varieties are even more deadly. The bite may carry the virus of a terrible sickness. Lucky for us, mosquitoes buzz through the air for only part of the year. It is too bad they choose to invade tho warm summer months when we want to be outdoors.
Mosquitoes are not around in the winter because the weather is too cold for them. But they do not migrate. A number of them are in hiding, waiting to come out in the springy multiply and plague us.
For all his bad habits, the mosquito is a graceful insect with a very interesting life history. He is an amphibious insect. His early life is spent in the water and his later life ‑ as we well know ‑ is spent in the air.
Mrs. Mosquito lays a batch of 50 to 200 eggs on the surface of a pond or calm swamp water. The eggs are shaped like tall, thin cones and the whole batch of them stick together to form a tiny, floating raft. If the weather is cold, the eggs will simply sleep. They may stay that way right through the winter months. In Alaska, certain mosquito eggs sleep buried in snow through the long, cold winter.
When the weather is warm, the eggs hatch in a few days. They become funny little wriggles and the water is their home. If all goes well, this larva stage is over in about a week. The wrigglers become pupae, little bundles wrapped in hard skin, floating on the surface of the water. This is the sleeping stage. Inside the pupa skin, each little wriggler is turning into a graceful mosquito.
When all is ready, a full grown mosquito struggles out of each pupa shell. It rests for a while, standing on the surface of the water. The fragile legs must dry and the gauzy wings become crisp in the sunshine. At last the mosquito is ready to start a busy life in the air.
If the surface of the water is oil;, the grown insect cannot hatch from the pupa. One way to keep down the mosquito population is to spray the pools and puddles where they spend their early lives. When time comes to hatch, the winged insects get bogged down and cannot take to the air.
The female mosquito crowds a lot into her short life. She lays from three to six batches of eggs to take their chances in some quiet pond. She stings as many animals and people as she can. For she feeds on fresh blood and when we feel her sting it means she has pierced our skin and taken a sip. The male mosquito feeds on fruit juice. He flies on quiet wings. Only Mrs. Mosquito buzzes and only she can sting us,
In the fall, the mosquitoes busy life slows down. Countless numbers of them are devoured by birds and by animals building up extra fat for the long winter sleep.
The mosquitoes also get ready for winter. A few of the females hide away in logs and old trees and wait for spring. Their last batches of eggs on the water also rest through the winter. They will hatch in the spring. Then the females will come out of hiding and start laying more eggs.