Golden Saltmarsh Mosquito
This mosquitoes belong to the Culicidae family in the order Diptera, which contains more than 86,000 species of flies. The mosquito appears slender and delicate, with a visibly sharp proboscis that distinguishes it from other members of the fly order. Males tend to have feathery antennae. Both sexes have delicate scales on wings. Mosquito larvae can be ¾ inch long, and the pupae grow up to ¼ inch. The larvae live in still ponds and puddles, leaves of plants, stagnant ponds or lakes.
The mosquito has influenced human history perhaps more than any other single family of insects, by transmitting diseases such as yellow fever and malaria, forms of encephalitis, and West Nile virus, among others. This insect is considered the most efficient and powerful transmitter of disease in the animal kingdom.
About 3,000 species of mosquitoes exist throughout the world, and about 150 occur in North America. This group requires blood for the formation of eggs; thus it is the females, not males, that bite. For every batch of eggs she lays, a female mosquito requires a blood meal, but at all other times, both males and females subsist on sugar-based foods, such as plant nectar or fruit juices from plants.
When the female bites she injects saliva into the site, which prevents blood from clotting before she can withdraw it. The saliva causes an allergic reaction in many people, leaving a welt, which if possible should not be scratched, since bacteria from the fingernails can be introduced into the wound and cause infection.
Scientists are puzzled by why some people attract mosquitoes more than others do. They do know that females follow the slipstream of exhaled CO2 to a human host, then navigate using different cues once they’ve reached close range. It’s believed that dark clothes attract mosquitoes more than light and that the scent of soaps, perfume or hairsprays can mask the scent of other chemicals released through human skin, such as folic acid, which tends to attract mosquitoes.