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Mosquitoes--Life cycles; Mosquitoes--Physiology; Mosquitoes--Minnesota


The 51 species of mosquitoes known to occur in Minnesota share many biological attributes. They develop through seven life stages: an egg, four larval instars, a pupa, and an adult. Females lay eggs either on water or in substrates likely to be submerged later. Larvae and pupae occur in still , shallow water. Habitats vary among species and include tree holes, temporary snowmelt pools, rain pools, semi-permanent marshes, ponds, and riverside lagoons. Duration of the stages can be affected by diapause, temperature, and nutrition. Many species overwinter as dormant eggs, while some overwinter as larvae and others as diapausing females.

The larvae of most species harvest bacteria, algae, plankton, and detritus. A few exceptional species prey on other mosquito larvae. Pupae do not feed. Larvae and pupae obtain some of their required oxygen from the water through their skin but the majority comes from the water surface. Growth and metamorphosis are orchestrated by a complex neuroendocrine system. Survival to adult is affected by weather and natural enemies.

Females of most species require vertebrate blood to produce their eggs. Males do not feed on blood. Few of the Minnesota species are strictly host specific. The majority will feed on whatever warm-blooded hosts are available. Both sexes also eat plant nectar which contributes to their 2-10 week longevity and ability to fly. Some species seem able to disperse on the wind for dozens of kilometers. Others are comparatively sedentary.

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