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Mosquito Facts

A few things you might like to know about Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are slenderly built, with three body sections and six delicately long legs. They have two wings, covered in scales and the three sections are head, thorax and abdomen.

Mosquitoes are much like a tiny grasshopper no larger than 15mm (0.6 inch). They weigh between 2 and 2.5 mg (0.03 to 0.04 grain) and fly at about 1.5 to 2.5 km/h (0.9 to 1.6 mph).

Their wings can beat at about 500 to 1,000 times per second and the majority of the some 3500 species are nocturnal.

Their head portion has two compound eyes, with numerous lenses, all pointed in different directions. It has two antennae used for feeling around and direction sense. The mouth is a snout like tube funnel called a proboscis that extends down and is used like a straw to sipplant juices.

In the female the proboscis is used to sip blood for when she is ready to become fertile and make a nice home for incubating her eggs.

The head sits on the thorax with an extremely short and thin neck. The thorax looks like a triangle with patterned scales that are used to identify the species.

The thorax has six strong inner muscled legs, each with a tiny pair of claws that help with balancing, climbing and hanging upside down on the ceiling. The two wings are also located on the thorax along with a pair of knob like appendages called halters, which are used for balance and replace the other two wings of what may have once been a four set making them different from houseflies.

Their abdomen is a slender and long tube; some are pointed or rounded at the end. This is where they breathe through spiracles, eight pairs to be precise. The air flows through these spiracles and is distributed by way of tubes that reach the whole body.

The word mosquito or mosquitoes in English is derived from the Spanish word mosquito meaning little gnat or little fly, a diminutive from the Latin musca meaning, fly.

The earliest usage of the word in English is found in 1583 to distinguish the mosquito from the common house fly which has four wings while the mosquito has only two wings covered in scales with little rods for balancing that replace the other two wings.

The Romans probably came up with the word from the sound some mosquitoes make while buzzing around muzzzzz and maybe the impact a hand makes ka but that is pure speculation because taxonomy didnt become a practice until Carolus Linnaeus made his first draft of Systema Naturae in 1735 while living in the Netherlands.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

As the Roman language of Latin was the universal language at that time, the educated used it to communicate and thus Systema Naturae was published in Latin and initially divided creatures into Kingdoms, Classes, Orders, Genera and Species.

To be precise according to what has become modern taxonomy, mosquitoes are of a family called Culicidae belonging to the order of Diptera (the larger group of mosquitoes, gnats and flies from the Greek root, di = two; ptera = wings).

The family of Culicidae contains around 3500 different species of mosquitoes, all of which can be put into three subfamilies to make things simpler for everyone. Anophelinae, Toxorhynchitinae and Culicinae.

Anophelinae has three Genera all its own, Toxorhynchitinae only one Genera, while Culicinae has exactly nine Genera of which 80% of all species belong.

The Genera include: Anopheles, Culex, Psorophora, Ochlerotatus, Aedes, Sabethes, Wyeomyia, Culiseta, and Haemagoggus.

Within the family of Anophelinae alone six subgenera are recognized: Stethomyia, Lophopodomyia, Kerteszia, Nyssorhynchus (all South American), Cellia (Old World only) and Anopheles (worldwide).

While that sounds like a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo, it just goes to show how much of a survivor mosquitoes really are.

Ancestral mosquitoes were a sister group to Chaoboridae (biting midges) and have adapted and overcome millenniums of virtual extinction.

The mosquito has theoretically been around for more than 170 million years. Mosquitoes probably first evolved into the closest semblance of the creature they have become today in the Jurassic period sometime between 206 135 million years ago.

The earliest known fossil in existence is from the ending period of the Jurassic known as the Cretaceous period some 144 65 million years ago. At that time, the world was a very different looking place.

The world had no polar ice caps and the continents were all part of this giant landmass that was just then beginning to slowly break up into smaller pieces and move out.

In the land of Gondwana to the south, what we recognize as being South America today was already quite distinctly shaped, and it was on this piece of land that the mosquito first evolved to some three times its actual size with the proboscis (a snout for sipping nectars and juices) far shorter and wider than today.

It spread across the upper continent of Laurasia to the north and then back into the tropics again down into what later became Africa. Thus the mosquito thrives in all parts of the world today except Antarctica where it never spread.

Mosquitoes spread initially throughout the world by following animals and wildlife along their hunting and eating trajectories, but later found that the best place to thrive for them, were then and are now, wetlands.

Lakes, ponds, slow moving or shallow creeks and rivers as well as lagoons and swamps, make great places for mosquitoes to thrive.

The main reason is food supply, and that doesnt mean blood. In fact, neither do mosquitoes bite nor do they need blood to eat. Mosquitoes dont even open jaws to be able to bite, and only females need blood to become fertile.

Wetlands are complete with food for adult mosquitoes such as fruits, flowers and nectars.

For reproduction, there is an ample supply of still water for the mosquito eggs to hatch and become young larvae, which just love to eat microorganisms.

Females of course will find a large variety of mammals to extract blood, for when it is time to become fertile and lay eggs.

In the civilized world, mosquitoes became the object of detailed study ever since the human race first began cultivating crops.

In the western world, natural philosophy was first to coin names for mosquitoes some 2,500 years ago with Aristotle. Throughout the middle ages up till the Renaissance, the only discipline to really give them any thought was a branch of natural philosophy called botany.

But as humans take over the planet and destroy wetlands right and left, mosquitoes have no choice but to adapt to an ever-changing environment, which means learning to thrive in human spaces.

In the civilized world, where wetlands are scarce, old tires are plenty, still water of any kind can be found in abundance, such as that which is stopped up in badly kept gutters and drains or leaking faucets and hoses, wherever one inch deep of semi-still water can be found, female mosquitoes will migrate and lay eggs.

Humans, dogs, cats, birds, rodents and a variety of other animals, provide ready concentrates for females that need to become fertile and filled with blood for hosting eggs.

It really depends on the mosquito, but most are nocturnal and not all species will be found extracting blood from only one kind of animal.

One adaptable species such as the Aedes (the dengue transmitter) is diurnal, and females are not picky about the blood type or source, as long as it exhales carbon dioxide (CO2), is warm and can be smelled from up to 35 yards away, she will find it.

Thus disease is spread by mosquitoes through the sipping of one subject with an infection and the consequent sipping another subject without the infection.

This is because in sipping, the proboscis, will drop saliva and anti-coagulants onto the surface of the skin and then penetrate like a hypodermic needle until it reaches the blood stream.

The proboscis; which is scaled to reduce the contact with skin surfaces is not even felt by the host being attacked.

Thus saliva drops easily into the wound and comes in direct contact with the blood stream, and thereby acting as a carrier for evil microorganisms.

Some organisms that survive in mosquito saliva include the malaria parasite, filariasis worm (causes elephantiasis) and many viral diseases such as yellow fever, dengue fever, epidemic polyarthritis, West Nile virus.

When a arthropod such as mosquitoes or ticks carry viruses, those viruses are then reffered to as arboviruses. HIV and AIDS are NOT arboviruses, because they cannot survive in such harsh environs as saliva.

Swelling is caused by the immune systems antibodies which tend to react within 24hrs of a given sipping, popularly referred to as a mosquito bite.Swelling itself occurs because the immune response has broken capillary blood vessels and fluid begins to collect below the skin. Thus creating an itching and irritation.

As much of nuisance as mosquitoes have been to humans all throughout history, they are a part of our world and an integral member this ecosystem. As Humans destroy wetlands and invade nature, mosquitoes will semprafi, adapt and overcome.

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Posted in Mosquito Magnet by admin on May 21, 2007.

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