The
Mosquito's
Life
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                               OVER 40 DIFFERENT SPECIES of mosquito are found
                               in Illinois. While each species has its own developmental habitat, all
mosquitoes need water in which to pass their early life stages. Some mosquitoes lay their
eggs directly on the surface of water. Other mosquitoes lay their eggs in areas that will
eventually fill with water. Once eggs come in contact with water, they hatch into larvae
within several days. Mosquito larvae undergo four stages of growth and development
called instars. Larvae feed on organic material and microorganisms in the water and return
to the surface of the water to breathe. Larval development may be as rapid as 5-7 days in
warm weather. After the larval stages are complete the larvae shed their skins and emerge
as comma-shaped pupae. Pupae are very active and dive vigorously if disturbed. Pupae
do not feed while they undergo metamorphosis to the adult stage. The adult mosquito
emerges from the pupal skin and rests on the water’s surface until it dries.

Both male and female adult mosquitoes feed on plant nectar, but only the female bites to
get the blood needed for the development of eggs. While some kinds of mosquitoes can
live several months, the main nuisance mosquitoes we have in this area usually survive
four weeks or less. Not all mosquitoes can carry disease, nor are all mosquitoes vicious
biters. Some kinds of mosquito never bite humans. Mosquitoes also vary in the distances
they travel from the water they developed in. While some species will not stray more than a
block or two from their source, other species’ flight range can be 20 miles or more. The
great diversity between different species of mosquitoes makes their control more complex,
requiring a variety of approaches and methods.