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Family Culicidae - Mosquitoes

Male mosquito - Toxorhynchites rutilus - male mosquito  - Ochlerotatus japonicus Mosquito - Ochlerotatus canadensis - female Mosquito - Ochlerotatus japonicus Mosquito - Coquillettidia perturbans garage light - male mosquito Brown male mosquito - Aedes vexans - male
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon ("Nematocera" (Non-Brachycera))
Infraorder Culicomorpha (Mosquitoes and Midges)
Family Culicidae (Mosquitoes)
Other Common Names
wigglers (larvae), tumblers (pupae)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
"Traditional" and "new" classifications compared here (Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit, Sept 2013)
Classification of Tribe Aedini is also reflected in Reinert et al. (2009) and in Harbach's list(1)
Explanation of Names
Culicidae Meigen 1818
mosquito - Spanish for 'small fly'
174 spp. in 14 genera in our area(2), >3700 spp. in 46 genera and 145 subgenera worldwide, arranged in 2 subfamilies(1)(3) [many subgenera, esp. in the Aedini, are often treated as separate genera -- cf.(4)]
3-15 mm
Wings with scales on veins and along margins; legs and proboscis long; antennae with 6 or more segments, plumose on males and short-haired on females
keys to N. Amer. spp. in (6)
Larvae are aquatic, developing mainly in standing water (temporary pools, water in discarded containers, saltmarshes, treeholes, etc.). However, some mosquitos, like some species of Anopheles, lay eggs in very slow moving streams and brooks.
Mostly spring and summer in temperate climates
Male and female adults feed on nectar and plant juices and only females feed on blood because a blood meal is usually required for development of eggs. Females can feed on the blood of amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals - including humans.
Click here to learn how mosquitos bloodfeed.
Larvae feed on algae, protozoans, and organic debris filtered from the water. However, a few species are predaceous on other mosquito larvae
Life Cycle
The eggs are laid either on the surface of standing water or above the waterline in areas subject to flooding; eggs hatch in spring and larvae complete 4 stages of development before pupating; larva stage may last from less than a week to more than a month, depending mostly on temperature and species; pupa stage typically lasts less than a week; adults emerge directly from pupae at the water surface; from one to several generations per year, depending on species and latitude.
Eggs (1), egg rafts (2), larvae (3-4), pupa (5), adults: female (6-7), male (8-9)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Female mosquitoes are vectors (i.e. carriers and transmitters) of major diseases, including malaria [caused by a protozoan], yellow fever [virus], filariasis [nematode], dengue [virus], and certain types of encephalitis [virus].
Carbon dioxide, expelled in the breath of animals, attracts female mosquitoes that are looking for a blood meal. They detect carbon dioxide in the air and travel upwind to the source.
Print References
Burkett-Cadena N.D. (2013) Mosquitoes of the southeastern United States. The University of Alabama Press. xiii + 188 pp. (8)
Knight K.L., Stone A. (1977) A catalog of the mosquitoes of the world (Diptera: Culicidae). The Thomas Say Foundation, Vol. 6, 2nd Ed. Entomological Society of America, College Park, Maryland.
Reinert J.F., Harbach R.E., Kitching I.J. (2009) Phylogeny and classification of tribe Aedini (Diptera: Culicidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 157: 700−794.