Our Wild Neighbors

Mosquito

Culex

They lurk almost everywhere, even in cities

Image of a mosquito, dried and mounted, seen from an angle with its head to the left and its wings and legs hanging down.

Description of the animal

  • Long-legged, frail insects that belong to the insect order Diptera and are a member of the Culicidae family.
  • Single pair of membranous, long, and narrow wings. At rest, the wings fold back horizontally. Mosquitoes share these characteristics with all other Diptera adults.
  • Scales on most of their body.
  • Long, narrow beak known as a proboscis or rostrum. The female’s proboscis has six long stylets.
  • Long and narrow antennae made up of many segments. Males have feathery antennae.

Habitat and needs

  • Feed on nectar. The females of certain Mosquito species need protein for the maturation of their eggs. Thus, they sometimes feed on blood that they suck through their proboscis. They may bite birds, mammals, amphibians, or humans, depending on their species.
  • Females lay hundreds of eggs several times per season, depositing them in water.
  • Beat their wings 400 to 2300 times per second. Females seduce males by creating a gentle humming sound with their wings.

Relationship

  • Mosquito larvae are at the bottom of the food chain and are consumed by many species of fish. Adults are eaten by various insectivorous creatures such as birds and amphibians.
  • Since they feed mainly on nectar, mosquitoes are plant pollinators, just like butterflies and bees.
  • When they bite, females inject anticoagulant saliva, a substance that causes swelling and itching.
  • Their wings beat very rapidly, producing a high-pitched sound that humans find irritating.
  • Mosquitoes are disease vectors and can transmit malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, and the West Nile virus.

Living with them

  • Mosquitoes are attracted by carbon dioxide and human body warmth. To avoid bites, wear long, thick, tight-fitting, and light-coloured clothing.
  • Mosquitoes are attracted by strong odours and certain perfumes.
  • Running away from mosquitoes is useless; the increase in body temperature only attracts them more.
  • To reduce the number of mosquitoes:
  • Eliminate all sources of stagnant water, even in gutters.
  • Deposit pennies under flowerpots and in containers that collect water; copper kills larvae.
  • Install yellow or fluorescent incandescent light bulbs, which are less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Open swimming pools in April to prevent the development of larvae.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen