Mosquitos are blood-sucking insects in the order of Culicidae. With over 300 species found across Australia and 60 species specifically living in NSW, there are a lot of little blood-suckers to ward off, especially in areas such as the Illawarra where bodies of water are abundant.
These insects can and do carry diseases such as Ross River virus and Barmah Forerst virus disease and in rare cases, Dengue Fever and Malaria have been transmitted by mosquitos in Australia’s tropics.
Mosquitos are very small and quite fragile insects that have six legs and two wings covered in scales. The mosquito has a projecting proboscis which conceals and protects the long piercing and sucking mouthparts.
Mosquitoes start life as an egg and become larvae, spending all their infancy in an aquatic environment whilst their adult life is spent completely on land. The female mosquito will usually return to a body of water to lay a batch of eggs.
The life cycle of a female mosquito is 2-3 weeks, however, the male’s lifespan is somewhat shorter.
Male and female mosquitoes feed on nectar and plant fluids, the female however, seeks out blood as a protein source to ensure development of her eggs.
The female mosquito is attracted to carbon dioxide from breath, body odours and heat sources.
Once a suitable food source (like your arms and legs) is found, the female mosquito will probe the skin for a blood capillary then inject a small amount of chemicals to help prevent clotting of the host’s blood, allowing the blood to flow more freely, this is often when a virus or pathogen enters the bloodstream of the host.
She then will find a place to rest and digest her meal to develop the eggs before laying them in a suitable body of water.
The young larvae often called wrigglers are avid feeders taking about 2 weeks to reach pupa (tumbler) stage where the adult mosquito emerges about 2 days later to start the cycle over again.