What does it look like?
A mosquito is a flying insect, that has long legs and a thin body. The range of length and weight are great, but mosquitoes are normally quite small and less than 16 mm long and 2.5 mg in weight. Mosquitoes have six legs and a pair of translucent wings. The mosquito's head contains two compound eyes and a pair of long antennae. The antennae are used by the mosquito to smell. The males have bushier antenna which include auditory receptors so they can hear female mosquitoes as they fly. The head also has an elongated tube called a proboscis that is used for feeding. Mosquitoes also have a pair of halteres, halteres stabilize the flight of the mosquito.
Where does it live?
Mosquitoes are present in all six of the major continents. The mosquito is a nocturnal insect, and flies during the evening and night. During the day, mosquitoes rest in the shade or other cool areas.
What does it eat?
Both male and female mosquitoes drink nectar from plants as their main source of food. In many species of mosquitoes however, the females drink blood! A female mosquito uses the blood to gain other nutrients for her eggs. Using the proboscis, the external organ for sucking up blood, the mosquito punctures the skin of its victim. After injecting a pain killer, it will suck up the blood. A mosquito has special saliva that keeps the blood it drinks from clotting. Many diseases, such as malaria, are spread by mosquitoes carrying infected blood.
How does it defend itself?
Mosquito saliva contains a pain killer that allows mosquitoes to sometimes bite their victims and remain undetected. Mosquitoes also can fly quickly. This makes them hard to swat. A female mosquito filled with blood flies much slower than one without, though.
What stages of metamorphosis does it go through?
Mosquitoes (like most insects) start out in eggs. Mother mosquitoes lay the eggs in the water because the larvae must swim. Mosquito larvae are also called "wrigglers" because of the way they squirm in the water. In at least a week, larvae start to become pupae, the second stage of a mosquito. The pupa stage lasts about one to four days, in which it stays in a hard cocoon like case. When a mosquito is in its shell, it does not eat. In fact, the only thing it does do is change again. Soon enough, the case cracks, and out comes a new adult mosquito. The mosquito must rest on the surface of the water for a few minutes, to dry off its wings. An adult male mosquito lives only a week or so, and then, its life is over. The adult female mosquito lives for a little longer sometimes as long as two months.
What special behavior does it exhibit?
Adult mosquitoes build tunnels below grass roots and rest there when they are not flying. In most species, the male mosquitoes form large swarms, usually around dusk, and the females fly into the swarms to mate. Female mosquitoes make a characteristic whining sound when they fly that attracts males. Some types of mosquitoes can fly very long distances and keep flying continuously for up to four hours.
How does this bug affect people?
This is a very famous insect because it has killed so many people throughout history. When a mosquito bites, it can pass on diseases like Malaria and Yellow Fever. In some parts of the world people sleep under large nets so they don't get bitten in their sleep. Even when a mosquito is not carrying disease, the bite of a mosquito is very annoying. In some places people spray chemical pesticides to keep the number of mosquitoes down.