They live on plant nectar when not producing eggs A male mosquito feeding on nectar. By Elizabeth Miller All adult mosquitoes feed on the nectar or honey dew of plants to get sugar, and that provides enough nourishment for both males and females to live, but females also need to produce eggs. To create eggs, females need protein, which they get from the blood of animals.
Only a few species of mosquitoes can store enough energy as larvae, to produce eggs when they're adults, without needing a meal of blood. The blood can come from humans, mammals, birds, reptiles or frogs, though most mosquitoes have a preference for a few particular sources. Some live near humans and bite them, while others choose livestock or animals first. After the female mates, has her first meal of blood and lays her eggs, she begins looking for another drink of blood, to develop another batch of eggs without mating again.
If she survives, she may do this several times in one summer. "Lots of amazingly detailed pictures will entice 6-to-12-year-olds to read about these persistent little critters, who have been busy annoying everyone for thousands of years." When they're not looking for blood, both the males and females feed on a wide variety of plants, though each species has its preferences. "Early spring Aedes mosquitoes have been recorded nectar-feeding on Canada plum, pin cherry and a variety of woodland plants.
Even in the high Arctic, mosquitoes have been observed feeding on floral nectar from the flower Dryas integrifolia, [a small white Arctic flower]" according to Encyclopedia of Entomology by John L. Capinera. It's a good reference book to find in the library, but probably not one you'd want to buy! The same author describes how mosquitoes digest the nectar. After they draw it in through their long proboscis, they store it in a sack-like crop connected to the fore-gut.
The fore-gut is divided into two parts, a front section that digests sugars and a rear section that digests blood. The front mid-gut secretes enzymes which digest the nectar into a liquid and it passes from the crop into the front mid-gut. Mosquito starting to feed, with empty gut. When the female mosquito feeds on blood, the blood goes directly to the rear midgut, which can digest the protein. The rear midgut can also expand as the mosquito draws in the blood, so she can hold a full meal at once.
A Change of Diet In some species of mosquitoes, the fertilized females hibernate over the winter, while the males die off when cold weather comes. To survive without food while they're hibernating, the females need to eat extra sugars to double their weight in the fall, so they don't need to feed again until spring. Late in the season, they stop looking for animals to bite and instead seek rotting fruit or nectar.
Mosquito full, with gut expanded. Two entomologists recently discovered what makes these mosquitoes change their diet in time to fatten up for winter. It all depends on day length. A news release about the discovery explains how it occurs: "As the days begin to get shorter, two genes that code for digesting blood switch off, and a different gene for digesting sugar and retaining fat switches on." Useful Proboscis Female mosquitoes have a long, thin proboscis, or mouthpiece, that is similar to male mosquitoes', but more efficient for extracting blood.
After landing on a potential victim, she probes the skin and injects saliva. The saliva has chemicals in it which thin the blood, making it easier for her to suck up, and which numb the skin, making the victim less apt to notice what's happening, and which lubricate the area so she can insert the proboscis. The lingering effects of the saliva are also what make mosquito bites itch afterwards. Magnified view of theproboscis's sharp tip.
If she thinks she's found a blood-filled capillary close to the surface, she inserts her proboscis and draws up the blood until her gut is full, or until she's frightened away. Mosquitoes don't spread disease by transferring blood from one victim to another. Instead, the disease is passed in the injected saliva. That's why only certain diseases can be spread, such as malaria or yellow fever, since they have evolved to live inside the mosquito and spread in her saliva.
Mosquitoes also eat before they become adults. The larvae live in water and feed on microscopic organic particles which they filter from the water through brush-like structures around their mouth. The larvae of a few larger species also eat other small insects, including smaller mosquito larvae. More articles: Photos of mosquitoes feeding courtesy of the CDC. Mosquito proboscis photo from Wikimedia Commons user Ben133uk WHY THIS WEBSITE? Mosquitoes can turn a beautiful backyard or patio into a nightmare, and keep you from enjoying the barbecue or pool or just the back-porch swing.
Ugh. I hate them. Not to mention the nasty diseases they carry to people and pets. But it doesn't have to be that way! I know from experience... Read more. --Elizabeth Miller All articles and comments are the opinion of the authors, and we cannot guarantee the accuracy or the currency of the information. MosquitoReviews.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.
com. It also may participate in other similar affiliate advertising programs and may receive compensation for sales through links from the site. Pen-names and models' photos are used.See Also: Free Paper Piecing Quilt Patterns Animals
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Away from a jungle of rain-washed pines and junipers spearing the hot blueness of your Florida sky, ran a little, tawny-haired boy. His bare ft, extending from his overalled legs, crackled in opposition to the fallen palmettos. He leaped in the air, flinging his arms toward a flock of white doves circling previously mentioned him.
They provide food and pollination, but spread diseases Ecologists take samples from a lake to test the health of its ecosystem, by looking for tiny creatures that only thrive under certain conditions. By Elizabeth Miller Mosquitoes can have both positive and negative impacts on the ecosystem. As part of their useful role, the larvae of mosquitoes live in water and provide food for fish and other wildlife, including larger larvae of other species such as dragonflies.
The larvae themselves eat microscopic organic matter in the water, helping to recycle it. Adult mosquitoes make up part of the diet of some insect-eating animals, such as birds, bats, adult dragonflies and spiders. They also help pollinate some flowers, when they consume nectar. But mosquitoes also can have a damaging role, harming other animals by being a vector for diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis and dengue.
The mosquitoes don't cause the diseases themselves, but only act as carriers. They need to feed on a person or animal who is already infected, then when they bite a healthy person or animal afterwards, they pass on the disease. In places where a particular disease is not already present, there's no risk of catching it from mosquitoes, but ecologists worry, because if infected humans or animals do come into the area, the mosquitoes that already live there will spread the disease among the rest of the healthy population.
"Clear close-up photos bring to life the story of mosquitoes, from larvae to adults. For ages 6-12." Usually the bites themselves are just an annoyance if there's no chance of illness, but sometimes mosquitoes are so overwhelming, their sheer numbers have a major impact. In some places around the Arctic where summers are short, mosquito season is brief, but so many are competing for a bite of mammal blood that they cluster in dense swarms, causing caribou herds to flee.
As annoying and dangerous as mosquitoes are, scientists don't want to recommend exerminating all of them, or any other species, unless they're sure there won't be any unintended bad consequences. Thirty years ago, people understood that eradicating one species might affect others, but they looked more for large, obvious changes. Today, scientists examine the ecosystem more closely, since even small changes can produce large alterations over time.
Bugs, in general, have a long history of both helping and hurting human life, and interacting with people and the ecosystem in ways one might not expect. A humorous, scientifically accurate book about them, by a professor of entomology is Bugs in the System: Insects And Their Impact On Human Affairs. An unfortunate role of mosquitoes in the ecosystem is spreading diseases to humans. The problem with getting rid of all mosquitoes is that we don't know everything about them yet.
They may be useful in ways we can't imagine. John Carlson, studying at Tulane University, wrote, about Costa Rica, "If all of the mosquitoes were killed, the ecosystem would probably not suffer, unless the poisons used to kill them also killed organisms that are required for the balance of the rainforests." But he cautioned that we also can't be sure that some useful chemical might one day be found in mosquitoes, so they may have some value in the future that we're not even aware of now.
Still, many scientists think the world would survive the loss of mosquitoes without too much damage. The problems may be caused more by how we get rid of them. [embedded content] A video describing the life cycle of mosquitoes and black flies, and how they fit into their own ecological niches. Even if mosquitoes themselves don't have a vital role in a particular ecosystem, insecticides used to kill them may harm other creatures that do.
A Florida mosquito control white paper points out that some small organisms, such as arthropods the same size as mosquito larvae, may be more vulnerable to pesticides than the mosquitoes themselves. Trying to kill off the mosquitoes may kill off all similar creatures. Fish and other animals which ate mosquito larvae wouldn't be able to switch to another diet, because not enough similar creatures would survive.
So scientists not only need to learn the role of mosquitoes in the ecosystem and judge how important they are, they also need to study the role of any other creatures that might be affected by our attempts to get rid of them. A possible way of eradicating them without killing any other living things, is a new plan scientists are working on, to release males with a lethal gene which prevents their offspring from surviving.
One company has made a mosquito which won't live unless it receives the antibiotic tetracycline, according to an article in the Oct. 30, 2011 New York Times. The company can breed the mosquitoes in a lab by giving them the antibiotic to keep them alive, then introduce them in the wild, where they will live long enough to mate with normal females, but their offspring will die. The company released 19,000 of the special mosquitoes in 2009 on a Grand Cayman island, and the males with the lethal gene successfully reduced the mosquito population, though they still weren't as successful at breeding as normal males, so many of the next generation were normal and survived.
Unlike other insecticides, this way of controlling them can only affect mosquitoes, but there are still ethical concerns. Though scientists are fairly sure that mosquitoes' useful role in the ecosystem is small enough that other insects could take over, if we ever have the ability to eliminate them completely we'll want to be sure they're not serving some purpose we're currently unaware of. More articles: Images courtesy of the USDA.
WHY THIS WEBSITE? Mosquitoes can turn a beautiful backyard or patio into a nightmare, and keep you from enjoying the barbecue or pool or just the back-porch swing. Ugh. I hate them. Not to mention the nasty diseases they carry to people and pets. But it doesn't have to be that way! I know from experience... Read more. --Elizabeth Miller All articles and comments are the opinion of the authors, and we cannot guarantee the accuracy or the currency of the information.
MosquitoReviews.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. It also may participate in other similar affiliate advertising programs and may receive compensation for sales through links from the site. Pen-names and models' photos are used.