LIFE CYCLE OF MOSQUITO

Female of the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) biting on human skin and bloodfeeding to generate a new egg batch. Invasive, potentially disease-carrying species around the world, photographed in Catalonia, Spain, where it is present since 2004.
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Mosquito species including those of Anopheles carry out effective breeding and survival in freshwaters (i.e. waters with low salinity) than in salt waters (i.e. waters with high salinity). If the water in which the mosquito lays its eggs has high salt concentration (too saline), the larva and pupa stage of the mosquito cannot survive and produce the adult mosquito because the high salinity will dehydrate water from their body. The female Anopheles mosquito has a high taste for blood which they either get from humans or animals (e.g. cattle, goat). Those that feed on human blood are said to be anthropophilic (anthropophily) in their nutrition while those that suck the blood of animals are said to be zoophily in their feeding habit. Anopheles funestus and Anopheles gambiae are usually the two (2) species of female Anopheles mosquito that play significant roles in malaria transmission across the globe.    

Mosquito undergoes four stages in their life cycle; and these stages are highlighted in this section.

  • Egg stage: This is the first stage in the mosquito life cycle.An adult mosquito can lay up to 200 eggs. The eggs are usually laid singly on stagnant water. The eggs have air sacs that allow them to float singly on the water. The eggs are laid in either freshwaters of blackish waters, and the eggs are susceptible to drying. After a few days (usually 2-3 days), the eggs hatch into thin larva that are known as wrigglers (Figure 1). 
  • Larva stage: The larval stage is the second phase in the mosquito life cycle. This stage follows the hatching of mosquito eggs (Figure 1). The larva is fitted with developed head that has antenna, mouth brushes for feeding, a thorax, spiracle for breathing and a segmented abdomen. The mosquito is usually positioned horizontally to the surface of the water in order to breathe through its spiracles (breathing tube). The wrigglers (larva) are very active and swim in the waters. The mouth brushes allow them to sweep food particles (e.g. algae, diatoms and bacteria) into their mouth from the water surfaces. After about 2-14 days, the wrigglers develop into pupa.
Figure 1. Mosquito life cyle
  • Pupa stage: The pupa stage is the third phase in the life cycle of mosquito (1). Mosquito pupae are usually comma shaped, and the pupa can also be called tumbler. They differ from the wriggler in that they do not feed. A pupa has a head and thorax that are fused to form a cephalothorax. Pupae have breathing trumpets that allow them to breathe as they come to the surface of the water. The pupa burst open dorsally after a short time (usually 3 days) to release the adult mosquito (imago).

FURTHER READING

Chiodini P.L., Moody A.H., Manser D.W (2001). Atlas of medical helminthology and protozoology. 4th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Ghosh S (2013). Paniker’s Textbook of Medical Parasitology. Seventh edition. Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers,

Gillespie S.H and Pearson R.D (2001). Principles and Practice of Clinical Parasitology. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. West Sussex, England.

Gutierrez Y (2000). Diagnostic pathology of parasitic infections with clinical correlations. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

John D and Petri W.A Jr (2013). Markell and Voge’s Medical Parasitology. Ninth edition.

Mandell G.L., Bennett J.E and Dolin R (2000). Principles and practice of infectious diseases, 5th edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone. 

Roberts L, Janovy J (Jr) and Nadler S (2012). Foundations of Parasitology. Ninth edition. McGraw-Hill Publishers, USA.

Schneider M.J (2011). Introduction to Public Health. Third edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Massachusetts, USA.

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