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Life in Freshwater


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Mosquito larva head closeup
Head of mosquito larva

Mosquitoes are slender flies growing up to 1 cm in length with long spindly legs. The mouthparts are very well adapted for piercing and sucking blood in the female. The male has feathery antennae for detecting the female. Mosquitoes are the plague of the tundra. Breeding rapidly in the melting pools of permafrost. However, they are very widespread over the whole of Europe except Iceland . They inhabit any form of standing water from bog pools to ponds. They can be found at virtually any season.

Adult Culex mosquito

ECOLOGY: The life cycle of the mosquito is complete in less than 2 weeks. The eggs are generally laid on the surface tension as a raft. These hatch into rapidly moving larvae which breathe through a siphon at the rear of the abdomen and hang down from the surface. In the Anopheline types they lie along the surface through a lack of siphon. When disturbed they all swim away by a rapid looping action. They feed on bacteria and detritus by filtering the water with their brush-like mouthparts. The pupa is aquatic and active breathing through small "ears". The adult emerges from the surface and starts the cycle again. Piercing the skin to suck blood it releases anti-coagulant to stop the blood clotting. Males feed on nectar.

They will breed in very small patches of water including puddles in the base of trees. Here they may avoid predation but if they are in a pond they will become an important prey item for fish and dragonfly larvae.

Adult head
Anophiline Mosquito adult head with mouthparts

See also Midges (Chironomids, Black Fly and Phantom) and Horseflies










Diptera - true flies


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