Lifespan of a Mosquito

BiologyWise Staff Sep 30, 2018
Mosquitoes are a menace in most parts of the world. In spite of taking a number of measures to get rid of them, they seem to come back. Scroll down to find out more about this buzzing pest's lifespan.
Mosquitoes are insects belonging to the insect family of Culicidae. The word Culicidae comes from a Latin word culex, which means gnat. There are about 3500 species of mosquitoes, found all over the world. The mouthparts of mosquitoes are adapted to piercing the skin of animals as well as plants.
It is the females that feed on blood, while the males feed on nectar and plant juices. In other words, it is not the males that harasses humans and animals, it's the females. At the same time, it is important to note that not all species of mosquitoes feed on humans and spread diseases.

What is the Lifespan of a Mosquito?

Like most types of flying insects, mosquitoes go through four stages in their lifespan. The four stages are egg, larva, pupa and adult stage. The first three stages of mosquito lifespan are spent in water.

Egg Stage

The female mosquito lays eggs in water. Normally marshes, lakes, puddles, artificial water containers, etc., are chosen to lay eggs. Stagnant water is where mosquitoes breed.

Larval Stage

The larval stage is the second stage in a mosquito's life cycle. When the larvae emerge out of the eggs, they have a well-developed head. Their mouths have brushes, which are used for feeding. They have a large thorax, but lack legs in this stage.
The abdomen is segmented. They use the spiracles located on the eighth segment of the abdomen to breathe. They regularly come to the surface of the water to breathe. In this stage of their life, the maximum amount of time is spent in eating algae, bacteria and other micro-organisms, which live on the surface of water.
Only when the larvae are disturbed do they dive into the water. Since the larvae do not have developed legs or wings, they have a jerky motion when they swim. Therefore, they are commonly called wrigglers.
The larval stage is further divided into four stages, or instars. After they have completed all the four stages, they enter the pupa stage. Towards the end of each instar, the larvae molt, and take on a slightly different form each time.

Pupa Stage

If you have to distinguish a larva of a mosquito from a pupa, you can use the shape to make the distinction.
The pupa looks like a comma when you view it from the side. In this stage, the head and thorax are joined together to form a cephalothorax. Like in the larval stage, the pupae have to frequently come to the surface to breath.
The pupae use a respiratory 'trumpet' for breathing. Mosquitoes do not feed at all in this stage. Subsequently, the pupa comes to the surface of the water. This is when the dorsal surface splits, and an adult mosquito emerges. As compared to the larval stage, these insects are much less active as pupae.

Adult Stage

After a couple of days of entering the adult stage, the mosquitoes mate. In most species, at dawn and/or dusk the mosquitoes form a large swarm, and fly together.
The females of the species fly into this swarm and mate. The lifespan of a male mosquito is less than the lifespan of a female mosquito. The males live for about a week, feeding on nectar from plants. The females live for about 15 to 18 days, feeding on blood.
Usually the female feeds herself on blood and then rests for a few days. During this period the blood is digested and the eggs are developed. After the eggs are well-developed, the female lays them, and starts seeking a host again.
The average lifespan of a mosquito, depends largely on the temperature it is in. On an average, female mosquitoes are known to live anywhere between 15 to 50 days, while the male mosquito is known to live anywhere between 15 to 25 days. Scientists are coming to believe that mosquitoes can be eradicated without harming the ecology of their habitat in any way.