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What Is A Mosquito?
For most people the word "Mosquito" strikes instant fear. Thoughts of little flying insects with sharp protruding mouthparts than carefully aim for humans and attack with a vengeance. Their piercing mouthparts sucking blood in a warm blooded frenzy. The Spanish called the mosquitoes "musketas," and the native Hispanic Americans called them "zancudos." "Mosquito" is a Spanish or Portuguese word meaning "little fly" while "zancudos," a Spanish word, means "long-legged." The use of the word "mosquito" is apparently of North American origin and dates back to about 1583. In Europe, mosquitoes were called "gnats" by the English, "Les moucherons" or "Les cousins" by French writers, while the Germans used the name "Stechmucken" or "Schnacke." In Scandinavian countries mosquitoes were called by a variety of names including "myg" and "myyga" and the Greeks called them "konopus." In 300 B.C., Aristotle referred to mosquitoes as "empis" in his "Historia Animalium" where he documented their life cycle and metamorphic abilities. Modern writers used the name Culex and it is retained today as the name of a mosquito.

Mosquitoes can be an annoying, serious problem in man's domain. They interfere with work and spoil hours of leisure time. Their attacks on farm animals can cause loss of weight and decreased milk production. Some mosquitoes are capable of transmitting diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue, filariasis and encephalitis [St. Louis encephalitis (SLE), Western Equine encephalitis (WEE), LaCrosse encephalitis (LAC), Japanese encephalitis (JE), Eastern Equine encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WN)] to humans and animals. Source - Tom Floore

Since 1999, West Nile Virus has been the major concern of regulatory officials. What originated in New York as a single case of WNV in 1999 now has the American population in a near panic. 212 cases and 12 fatalities (2 in North Texas) were attributed to WNV.

Mosquito Life Cycle
The mosquito goes through four separate and distinct stages of its life cycle: Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult. Each of these stages can be easily recognized by its special appearance.

Egg: Eggs are laid one at a time or attached together to form "rafts." They float on the surface of the water. In the case of Culex and Culiseta species, the eggs are stuck together in rafts of up to 200. Anopheles, Ochlerotatus and Aedes, as well as many other genera, do not make egg rafts, but lay their eggs singly. Culex, Culiseta, and Anopheles lay their eggs on the water surface while many Aedes and Ochlerotatus lay their eggs on damp soil that will be flooded by water. Most eggs hatch into larvae within 48 hours; others might withstand subzero winters before hatching. Water is a necessary part of their habitat.

Larva: The larva (plural - larvae) lives in the water and comes to the surface to breathe. Larvae shed (molt) their skins four times, growing larger after each molt. Most larvae have siphon tubes for breathing and hang upside down from the water surface. Anopheles larvae do not have a siphon and lie parallel to the water surface to get a supply of oxygen through a breathing opening. Coquillettidia and Mansonia larvae attach to plants to obtain their air supply. The larvae feed on microorganisms and organic matter in the water. During the fourth molt the larva changes into a pupa.

Pupa: The pupal stage is a resting, non-feeding stage of development, but pupae are mobile, responding to light changes and move (tumble) with a flip of their tails towards the bottom or protective areas. This is the time the mosquito changes into an adult. This process is similar to the metamorphosis seen in butterflies when the butterfly develops - while in the cocoon stage - from a caterpillar into an adult butterfly. In Culex species in the southern United States this takes about two days in the summer. When development is complete, the pupal skin splits and the adult mosquito (imago) emerges.

Adult: The newly emerged adult rests on the surface of the water for a short time to allow itself to dry and all its body parts to harden. The wings have to spread out and dry properly before it can fly. Blood feeding and mating does not occur for a couple of days after the adults emerge.

The egg, larva and pupa stages depend on temperature and species characteristics to determine how long they take for development. For instance a California originating (USA) mosquito, might go through its life cycle in 14 days at 70° F and take only 10 days at 80° F. On the other hand, some species have naturally adapted to go through their entire life cycle in as little as four days or as long as one month.

The most effective way to control mosquitoes is to find and eliminate their breeding sites. Eliminating large breeding areas such as swamps or sluggishly moving streams or ditches may require community-wide effort. Homeowners, however, can take the following steps to prevent mosquito breeding on their own property:

Breeding Site Reduction

1. Destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, plastic sheeting or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate at the base of flower pots or in pet dishes for more than 2 days.
2. Clean debris from rain gutters and remove any standing water under or around structures, or on flat roofs. Check around faucets and air conditioner units and repair leaks or puddles that remain for several days.
3. Change water in bird baths and wading pools at least once a week and stock ornamental pools with top feeding predacious minnows. Known as mosquito fish, these minnows are about 1 - 1½ inches in length and can be purchased or netted from streams and creeks.
4. Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas, and either remove, drain or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar.
5. Eliminate seepage from cisterns, cesspools, and septic tanks.
6. Eliminate standing water around animal watering troughs.
7. Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days.

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