Mosquito Life Cycle

Brendan Waddell, Superintendent

The mosquito life cycle is composed of four stages: Eggs, Larvae, Pupae, and Adult.

Stage 1: Eggs

Only female mosquitoes can lay eggs. To develop eggs, most females need a blood meal. With each blood meal, the female can lay several hundred eggs. The eggs are laid in or around water. Some mosquitoes lay their eggs in a raft, while others lay them singly. After 24 to 48 hours, the eggs will hatch and release larvae. There are traps that attract container mosquitoes, like Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Females come into the trap to lay eggs near the water, but instead encounter a killing agent.

Stage 2: Larvae

Mosquitoes spend as little as five days in the larval stage. Depending on the availability of food and environmental conditions, they could spend weeks or even months in the larval stage. Mosquito larvae breathe using a siphon that penetrates the water’s surface. In this stage, mosquito larvae are eating organic content in the water and go through four instars, growing at each molt. During this time, the water can be treated with different larvicides to prevent the larvae from developing into the next stage of the mosquito life cycle.

Stage 3: Pupae

Relative to the larval stage, mosquitoes spend much less time in the pupal stage (approximately one to three days). Pupae breathe using “trumpets” that penetrate the water’s surface. Unlike the mosquito larvae, pupae are a non-feeding stage and, instead, focus entirely on transformation. At this stage, the water can still be treated with certain products that provide quick mortality.

Stage 4: Adult

Once the mosquitoes have reached the adult stage, they will feed on sugar sources, such as nectar. Only the female mosquito will seek out a blood meal so she can successfully develop her eggs. The lifespan of mosquitoes varies widely, but can range from weeks to months. A female mosquito can lay several batches of eggs during her life. Adult mosquitos can be controlled using adulticide products applied through handheld, backpack, truck-mounted, and even aerial sprayers. To prevent the development of insecticide resistance, products with different modes of action should be rotated regularly.