The temperate environment and extensive salt marshes throughout the Hampton Roads area are extremely favorable to the mosquito breeding cycle, landing us a spot within the top ten U.S. cities for mosquitoes.
Of the 3000+ distinct mosquito species known to researchers to date, approximately 30 are found in the Hampton Roads area. Out of the 30 species present in our area, over 20 species are found to be competent carriers of human viral diseases. The two most prevalent diseases in this area are West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
All species of mosquito require sources of standing water for the extent of the breeding stages until adulthood. Specific species have developed specialized breeding techniques to adapt to the aquatic habitats present throughout their location. The mosquito life cycle can be characterized by the following four stages:
Adult female mosquitoes lay their eggs one at a time on the surface of standing water sources. 100-300 eggs are laid by a single mosquito at once. These eggs require just 1-4 days before hatching into larvae.
Larvae remain in the standing water source throughout their development. They undergo four molting cycles as they feed on microorganisms in the water, growing larger each time they shed their skin. During the final molt, the larvae move into the pupal stage. The development of larvae into pupae can require anywhere from 5-14 days, depending on the temperature of the water.
Pupae undergo a process similar to the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies. The pupae are mobile and responsive, but there is no feeding in the pupal stage. Once they reach full development, the skin of the pupa splits releasing the adult mosquito. This development requires just 1-4 days.
Adults rest on the water’s surface to allow their bodies to harden and their wings to dry properly before flight. Blood feeding as well as mating can begin within 48 hours of the adult’s emergence from the pupal skin. Adult male mosquitoes feed primarily off plant sugars while adult female mosquitoes require blood feeding for the production of eggs. Most mosquito species have a life of 1-3 weeks, where the female mosquitoes produce 1-4 egg batches.