The Tick and Mosquito Project


What Do Mosquitoes Eat

This might be a very odd question, but the answer is very much interesting. Even though mosquitoes are nearly everywhere, there are many mosquito facts that people don’t realize.

The majority of the people believe that the mosquitos feed on blood. However, this is not the case. You may be surprised to know that mosquitos are vegetarian. They may occasionally get involved in carnivorous cravings. Their diet changes as they mature. The adult mosquitos feed mainly on the nectar obtained from the plants. They do this to get sugar which provides nourishment for both the male and the female. Another major source of nutrition for the mosquito is honeydew of plants. However, the pyramid of their food needs to be understood completely.

The beginning of their life cycle

Mosquitos begin their life as larvae. These larvae are hatched from the eggs which are laid on the surface of the water. In some cases, the eggs are laid near the water, and by virtue of their mobility, they get to the water. Here, the rule of survival of the fittest gets incorporated. The baby mosquitos have to survive in this temporary settlement and have to mature. So the question is how do they survive? Nature plans everything. They feed on algae.

Larvae stage

The mosquitos leave the larvae stage and become molts. This is the stage in which they shed their skins and slowly move towards maturity. They need a very limited amount of nutrition, but they don’t feed on anything at all. Instead, the nutrition obtained from the larvae stage is utilized which is stored time to time in the larvae stage. At this stage, the larvae become pupae.

Adult stage

After maturing into pupae, they reach to the surface of the water. Normally, the larvae stay under the surface of the water as it can become oxygen-deficient if they get to the surface. After reaching the surface, these pupae sprouts wings. This is the start of the adult stage. We are familiar with this stage of their life. The food pyramid becomes broader, and they start to feed on many other things.

Only female mosquitos drink blood

The larvae of mosquito either mature into a male or a female. In the early phase, the main requirement for both male and female is to get carbohydrate. They get carbohydrate in the form of sugar from various sources.

Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by the plants in glands called nectaries. This nectar attracts the pollinating animals. Adult mosquitos feed on nectar. After they draw the nectar, they store in a special sac known as foregut. Fore-gut is divided into two parts. The first part of the foregut contains a special enzyme which dissolves the nectar, and the mosquito gets energy. Nectar is a rich source of nutrition and maintains the food chain.

But once the female mosquitos are matured, they have to lay eggs as well. In the process, they cannot feed on sugar. They need lipids and proteins as well. As a result, they suck human blood to get the proteins and lipids which help them to lay eggs. The blood is enriched with proteins. However, the digestion of these proteins are vital. They are dissolved in the second part of the foregut.

Animal Blood

It is a common misconception that mosquitos feed on animal blood only. However, this is not the case. Human blood may be a delicacy for the mosquitos in the opinion of somefungus gnat dunk bit people, but generally, mosquitos don’t bother what their target is. They just need blood, and they can get blood from the animals as well.

They prefer to choose the animals through which they can penetrate their proboscis. The Proboscis is the most important part in their nutrition. It is a thin, long mouthpiece which resembles a male mosquito but is specialized in sucking and drawing blood from the host. But before that, she probes the skin with the help of saliva. Saliva has special chemicals which soften the skin and makes the surface suitable for proboscis to suck the blood. The saliva makes the skin itchy after the bite both for the animals and humans.

Mosquitoes can actually penetrate through thin clothing and animal fur wit this proboscis.  That is why it is a good idea to use bug repellent and wear long shirts designed for mosquito prevention.

Survival in the winters

Adult females of some species of mosquitos hibernate in the winter while their male counterparts die off cold. To prepare themselves for this hibernation, they have to act beforehand. In the fall, they stop feeding on blood. They start to feed on the sugars again so that they can double their weight. This helps to survive until the spring season.

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