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mosquito(məskē`tō), small, long-legged insectinsect,
invertebrate animal of the class Insecta of the phylum Arthropoda. Like other arthropods, an insect has a hard outer covering, or exoskeleton, a segmented body, and jointed legs. Adult insects typically have wings and are the only flying invertebrates.
..... Click the link for more information. of the order Diptera, the true fliesfly,
name commonly used for any of a variety of winged insects, but properly restricted to members of the order Diptera, the true flies, which includes the housefly, gnat, midge, mosquito, and tsetse fly.
..... Click the link for more information. . The females of most species have piercing and sucking mouth parts and apparently they must feed at least once upon mammalian blood before their eggs can develop properly. The males may have beaks, or probosces, but cannot pierce, and they feed upon fruit and plant juices. The female produces the characteristic whining sound by vibrating thin horny membranes on the thorax. Mosquitoes have become adapted to extremes of climate and are found far north of the Arctic Circle, where they winter as larvae frozen in the ice.
Mosquito eggs are laid singly or glued together to form rafts, usually in stagnant water in ponds, pools, open containers, and other aquatic habitats—the particular type of habitat depending on the species. The aquatic larvae, or wrigglers, pass through four larval stages, feeding on microscopic animal and plant life. Except in the genus Anopheles, the wriggler has an air tube near the end of the abdomen and makes frequent trips to the surface to use it as a supplement to the gills. The pupa, or tumbler, shaped like a question mark, takes no food but surfaces often to breathe through air tubes on its thorax. One method of mosquito control is the spreading of oily substances on infested water, which prevents access to air and suffocates the pupae. In summer the life cycle may take only two weeks, resulting in several generations a year in some species.
During blood meals the females may either acquire or transmit various disease organisms. Several species of Anopheles mosquitoes, recognizable by their tilted resting position, carry the protozoan parasites that cause malariamalaria,
infectious parasitic disease that can be either acute or chronic and is frequently recurrent. Malaria is common in Africa, Central and South America, the Mediterranean countries, Asia, and many of the Pacific islands.
..... Click the link for more information. ; species of the genus Aedes transmit the viruses responsible for yellow feveryellow fever,
acute infectious disease endemic in tropical Africa and many areas of South and Central America. Yellow fever is caused by a virus transmitted by the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, which breeds in stagnant water near human habitations.
..... Click the link for more information. , chikungunyachikungunya
, viral disease transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. Symptoms appear after an incubation period of four to eight days and include sudden high fever, severe joint and muscle pain, and often headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash.
..... Click the link for more information. , dengue feverdengue fever
, acute infectious disease caused by four closely related viruses and transmitted by the bite of the female Aedes mosquito; it is also known as breakbone fever and bone-crusher disease.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Zika virusZika virus
, single-stranded RNA virus of the genus flavivirus that infects human and primates and causes a disease known as Zika fever or zika. It is primarily transmitted by the bite of a female Aedes
..... Click the link for more information. ; and in the S United States and in the tropics, members of the genus Culex, to which the common house mosquito belongs, are vectors of filariasis, the infection by a filarial worm that causes elephantiasiselephantiasis
, abnormal enlargement of any part of the body due to obstruction of the lymphatic channels in the area (see lymphatic system), usually affecting the arms, legs, or external genitals.
..... Click the link for more information. , and human encephalitisencephalitis
, general term used to describe a diffuse inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, usually of viral origin, often transmitted by mosquitoes, in contrast to a bacterial infection of the meninges (membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord), known as meningitis.
..... Click the link for more information. . Culex species also transmit West Nile virusWest Nile virus,
microorganism and the infection resulting from it, which typically produces no symptoms or a flulike condition. The virus is a flavivirus and is related to a number of viruses that cause encephalitis.
..... Click the link for more information. .
Dragonflies, damselflies, and several insectivorous birds are the natural enemies of the adults; the wrigglers are eaten in large quantities by small fishes and aquatic insects. Control of these major insect pests by other than natural means poses many problems; the long-range harmful effects of many insecticidesinsecticides,
chemical, biological, or other agents used to destroy insect pests; the term commonly refers to chemical agents only. Chemical Insecticides
The modern history of chemical insecticides in the United States dates from 1867, when Paris green proved
..... Click the link for more information. are very serious, and swamp drainage tends to upset the balance of nature in addition to eliminating the mosquito.
Mosquitoes are classified in the phylum ArthropodaArthropoda
[Gr.,=jointed feet], largest and most diverse animal phylum. The arthropods include crustaceans, insects, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions, and the extinct trilobites.
..... Click the link for more information. , class Insecta, order Diptera, family Culicidae.
See bulletins of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; study by A. Spielman and M. D'Antonio (2001).