Mosquitos

Generally recognised as the most dangerous animal in the world, based on the number of deaths that are attributed to its activities.

Mosquitoes are common insects from the family Culicidae (Order Diptera or ‘true flies’) which have mouthparts adapted for piercing and sucking. There are more than 3000 species of mosquito in the world.

Mosquitoes undergo a complete metamorphosis, meaning that they have a four-stage lifecycle which includes eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. Adults lay eggs on or near standing water and the larvae complete their development in the aquatic environment. Adults that emerge usually remain within a one mile radius of this breeding site. The lifespan of a female mosquito, from egg through adult, varies according to ambient temperature and species, but can be up to about 100 days.

 

The age of a mosquito is an important factor in its ability to transmit disease.

The three most important groups of mosquitoes which impact man are from the genera Anopheles, Aedes and Culex. These three species are collectively responsible for the transmission of malaria, dengue, Zika, filariasis, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and many other viral diseases.

Different species of mosquito can have different behaviours in terms of biting preferences and resting sites (e.g. indoors or outdoors) and host preferences (e.g. humans, animals). These factors are important in the choice of intervention method for disease vectors. For example, if the principal vector species within a given area is predominantly indoor resting then this suggests that indoor residual spraying could be an effective intervention technique. If a species feeds and rests indoors late at night then the use of insecticide-treated bed nets might be appropriate.

Species

Region found

Biting site

Resting site

Host preference

Peak biting time

Breeding sites

Anopheles gambiae

Africa

Indoors

Mostly indoors

Human

Late

Sunlit shallow temporary water bodies, rice fields

Anopheles arabiensis

Africa

Indoors and outdoors

Indoors and outdoors

Human and animal

Late

Temporary water bodies, rice fields

Anopheles culicifacies

India/Asia

Indoors and outdoors

Indoors

Mainly animal

21.00 to 23.00 

Various clean and polluted water bodies

Anopheles dirus

Asia

Indoors and outdoors

Outdoors

Human

Late

Small shaded water bodies in forested areas

Anopheles sundaicus

South East Asia

Indoors and outdoors

Indoors and outdoors

Human and animal

All night

Brackish water in coastal areas

Anopheles albimanus

Central America

Outdoors

Indoors and outdoors

Human and animal

Evening

Open, sunlit clear water

Anopheles stephensi

Asia and middle East

Indoors and outdoors

Indoors

Animal

Before midnight

Gutters, wells, rainwater tanks, grassy pools

Mosquitoes: Did You Know?
Male mosquitoes live on nectar and plant juices...