The real name for mosquitoes is Culicidae. They are part of the insect family. Some species feed on blood and only a few attack humans.
The characteristics of mosquitoes
This insect, considered harmful, has long, thin antennae with multiple articles. Their wings are made of scales. They go through 4 phases: the egg, larva and nymph are aquatic and the adult is aerial. On average, a mosquito becomes an adult in 10 to 15 days.
Mosquitoes are present on all continents of the world, except Iceland and Antarctica. They thrive in fresh water. Females are the only ones to sting, because they have a long, rigid proboscis to penetrate the epidermis of their prey.
In addition to being unpleasant, mosquito bites transmit pathogens to humans such as zoonoses, plasmodium, filariae and arboviruses.
The secrets of mosquitoes
As of 2023, scientists have identified 3,618 different mosquito species, which are classified into 111 genera and 2 subfamilies. Only a few are bloodsucking. Anautogenic females must feed on blood to ensure egg maturation, but there are also autogenic females who feed on nectars and mature fruits, like males.
To sting, they generally wait until dawn or dusk, then inject their anticoagulant saliva which causes the formation of a stinging pimple for humans. It only needs 2 or 3 seconds to take up to twice its weight before flying away. To hunt, the female mosquito locates its prey by the smell which it detects by:
the emission of carbon dioxide; perspiration ; fatty acid (butyric acid or lactic acid); 4 methyl phenol; breath; urine; alcohol vapors; the perfume ; sebum; cheese ; substances with ammonia odor (sweating, degradation of the microflora of the epidermis).
Some species bite more at ground level, because they are sensitive to the height at which the odor is perceived. Regardless of the light or the blood sugar level, mosquitoes bite regardless!
There are indeed people who attract mosquitoes because they have a high level of carboxylic acid in their sebum. With natural selection, these formidable predators have refined their hunting techniques around this criterion to be sure of their prey.
The role of mosquitoes in the ecosystem
Mosquitoes are an important part of the food chain. The adults feed on nectars and are therefore pollinators. Mosquito larvae are the basis of food for frogs and fish. Lizards, amphibians, birds and various other insects delight in adult mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes participate in the biopurification of swamps and provide nitrogen to plants through their excrement or their corpses. Their strong proliferation is notably due to different climatic changes (heavy precipitation after drought).