A mosquito is a flying insect belonging to the order Diptera (true flies) and part of the family Culicidae. Crane flies and chironomid flies resemble, and are some times mistaken for, mosquitoes.The principle food is plant nectar (a source of sugar), lthough females of some of the species require the proteins found in blood to produce eggs. Females have mouth parts that form a long piercing proboscis, unlike the males whose mouth parts are not suitable for piercing skins. Males also differ from females by their antennae. The male antennae are feathery.

Mosquitoes are found throughout the world. There are over 2700 species, the majority of which belong to three major genera: aedes, anopheles and culex.

Aedes - Aedes are sometimes known as "floodwater" mosquitoes. This is because their eggs hatch during floods. The yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito belong to this genus. They like to feed at dawn and dusk, feasting on mammals including humans.

Anopheles - Anopheles prefer to breed in freshwater lakes and streams. Several species of this genus can spread malaria to humans.

Culex - Culex breed in quiet, standing water. The northern house mosquito is included in the genus. They are weak fliers and live for only a few weeks during the summer months. They are dawn and dusk feeders and preferring birds over humans.

Mosquitoes are insects and follow the general life cycle of insects, starting with an egg, hatching into larva, turning into pupa, and finally emerging as an adult.

Eggs - A female lays eggs into water. The exception is the flood mosquito which lays its eggs above the waterline in a flood prone area. Eggs may be laid singly or in a group. Most eggs can survive the winter and hatch in the spring.

Larva - The eggs hatch into larva or "wigglers". Larva live in the water at the surface. They breath through an air tube. They have mouth brushes for feeding are used to gather organic material. They molt several times and live anywhere from days to several weeks depending on the species and environmental factors such as water temperature.

Pupa - After the fourth molt, the larva becomes a pupa or "tumblers". Pupa live in the water for one two four days depending on the species and water temperature. They float to the surface and breath through two small tubes called trumpets. Pupae do not eat, but remain active until they encase themselves, transforming into adults.

Adult - The pupa transforms into an adult inside the pupal case. Using air pressure, the adult breaks the pupal case open, crawls out onto the water and waits for its external skeleton to hardens. The mosquito then crawls to a safe place and spreads its wings to dry. Once dry, it flies away, in search of food and a mate.

The adult mosquitoes feed on plant nectar. The female does also, at least until it is ready to lay eggs. The female mosquitoes then bites animals and humans to feed on blood. The protein in the blood is required by the female to lay eggs. After she feeds, she lays her eggs, and then seeks another blood meal so she can lay more eggs.

Female mosquitoes can live many days or weeks, and sometimes over the winter. Whereas the male usually lives for only a few days after mating.

Some mosquitoes are capable of transmitting diseases. These diseases include malaria, yellow fever, dengue, filariasis, various strains of encephalitis and West Nile virus.

However ....

Mosquitoes are Important. The mosquito larvae and pupae are important food sources for fish other aquatic species.