Life Cycle of the Mosquito

Mosquitoes are one of the most noxious pests in the world. They carry fatal viral diseases with many being zoonotic or able to transmit diseases to humans. Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycles: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult mosquito emerges from the mature pupa as it floats on the water surface. Mosquito eggs are laid singly or in a raft-like structure that floats on water. They hatch one of two ways. Direct hatching eggs are laid on the surface of shallow, standing water. Examples include puddles, pools, ditches, tin cans, buckets, water storage tank and small bodies of standing fresh water. The eggs hatch within two to three days. The eggs develop into the larval and pupal stages with adults appearing within seven to ten days. Food supply, water temperature and larval density will affect the timeframe for full development. The West Nile mosquito of the Culex genus is an example of a direct layer.


A Female Mosquito of the Culicidae Family
By Alvesgaspar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Delayed hatching is the second way mosquitos are developed. Eggs are dormant and must experience dryness before they can hatch. The eggs can remain dormant from several days to several weeks and may even viable for months to years. Following a dry period, the eggs hatch after water covers them.

Life cycle mosquito
Life Cycle of the Mosquito

In late fall, female mosquitoes find places to over-winter in a state of dormancy. These areas include inside barns, stalls, buildings, tree holes, culverts, etc. Once the weather warms up, they emerge and lay eggs to renew the cycle.

For horses, mosquito repellents should contain permethrin or pyrethroid. Use DEET or picardidin on yourself or your clothing. You can also spray your clothing with pyrethroid products. Dunks can be used in large water sources. Other methods of control include removing and composting manure as frequently as possible. Clean out gutters and keep water tanks clean. Establish good drainage around the barn, water tanks and parking areas. Mow grasses around the property and spray periodically with permethrin insecticides. Crevices in the barn where mosquitos will overwinter can be sprayed with insecticide. The goal is to decrease breeding habitats. Knowing the life cycle of the mosquito can help you break the cycle and reduce the number of insects on your property.