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Life History of Mosquito Solved

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ABSTRACT

The study aims at finding out the events taking place in the life cycle of a mosquito. The study involved getting larva from a man-made pond in Langley and putting them in a jar. A tablespoon of the organic “gunk” from the bottom of the water body was put in the jar to provide the larvae with organic detritus and bacteria for food. Additionally, baker’s yeast was also added so as to provide food for the insects.

 

Daily records were kept depending on the observations made from the time the larvae were put inside the jar. It emerged that during the larvae stage, the insects fed more compared to when they transformed to the pupae stage. Additionally, the larvae also appeared to spend more time at the surface to breathe. After some seven to ten days, the larvae transformed to the pupae stage. The pupae appeared to slit open from the top to bottom after three days and the insect transformed into the adult stage. The adult spent several days on water to harden its body and fully developed its wings in preparation for its first flight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

 

The study involves the collection of mosquito larvae for observation. The study is intended to provide an enriched understanding about the life history of the mosquito based on the different changes it has to undergo until it attains its adulthood (Crans, 2004). In this project, all the activities taking place in the life of the mosquito from the larvae stage to adulthood are supposed to be recorded. After the end of the project, the following objectives will have been achieved:

 

  • Description of many aspects of the biology of mosquitoes;
  • Description of rearing procedures from larvae to adult;
  • Identification of life stages of a mosquito and distinguishing between males and females;
  • Describing some behavioural characteristics of the aquatic stages in the life cycle;
  • Discuss the rate of growth of mosquito larvae and;
  • Comparing and contrasting the life cycle of mosquito with that of other holometabolous inspects.

 

 

 

CHAPTER 2

METHODS

 

This study was carried out by collecting mosquito larvae from a man-made pond in Langley Township, BC on June 18th 2015. The larvae were supposed to be kept in a bottle and the daily activities of the larvae were recorded during the insect’s entire life stages. A tablespoon of the organic “gunk” from the bottom of the water body was put in the jar to provide the larvae with organic detritus and bacteria for food.

Figure 2.1: The life cycle of a mosquito with different developmental stages (Online Labs, 2013).

 

CHAPTER 3

RESULTS

 

Table 3.1: Observations and the findings made from the study of life cycle of mosquito.

Duration

Developmental Stage

Observations

Image

 

One

 

Larva

  • Mostly floating in the jar.
  • Larvae (wigglers) took much time at the surface to acquire oxygen.

 

 

Two

 

Larva

  • Mostly floating in the jar.
  • Spent much time afloat acquiring oxygen.
  • They also took time to feed on the provided baker’s yeast.

Figure 3.1

 

4-9

 

Larva

  • Appeared to continue growing to about 5mm.
  • Consumed the yeast poured into the water.
  • They appeared to shed their skin (molt) about four times before they changed into another phase of their stage.
  • At this stage, larvae appeared to swim extremely fast from the top of the jar to the bottom especially when they felt threatened.
  • This was especially so when someone came too near the jar.

Figure 3.2

 

10

 

Enters Pupa stage

 

  • The pupae appeared immediately after the fourth molt.
  • Its shape appeared to change to resemble a comma.
  • The pupae spent most of their time floating on the surface.
  • They also appeared to have two small tubes.

 

 

 

11

 

Pupae

  • Spent most of their time floating on the surface of the water inside the jar.
  • They did not appear to feed as they had during the larvae stage.

Figure 3.3

 

12

 

Pupae

  • Continued appearing immobile by floating at the surface.
  • They also maintained their comma shape.
  • Appears to have a slit running along the body of the pupae from the top.
  • The pupae at this stage are transparent and the outline of the adult can be seen through the pupae.

 

 

13

 

Changes to adult

  • The adult appears to come out from the slit.
  • After emerging, the adult appeared to be inactive for several days.
  • The adult also appeared to move from the centre of the jar to the jar’s peripheries.
  • Its wings had not been fully formed.
  • Its external skeleton also did not appear to have fully hardened.
  • It also appeared that adult mosquitoes had different features.
  • There are those whose mouth parts were short.
  • Others appeared to have a long proboscis.

Figure 3.4

 

The collected larvae in the jar showed the signs of life by constantly moving to the surface. This larva had a distinct swimming style that it appeared to use as it swam inside the jar from the bottom to the surface. For the first few days, there were no distinctive changes observed in the movement of the larvae. It only appears to constantly swim towards the surface of the jar. However, after few days, the water was found to contain some skin. It emerged that the larvae was shedding its skin as it grew. There was constant shedding of larvae skin for about four times during this stage. While the larvae could wiggle in the jar, there were times when it could only appear to float near the surface without having to sink much in the jar.

After shedding the skin for the fourth time during the fourth instar stage, the shape of the mosquito larvae changed. The change in the shape was noticeable because they appeared like commas and they were also uniquely transparent. It was easy to see through these mosquitoes at this stage since the developing adult could easily be seen in the pupae case. It was also astonishing to find out that insect was highly active during this stage. They remained highly active and they moved quickly through the jar with movements being seen across the jar. The mosquito at the pupae stage could move quickly from the top to bottom of the jar. However, on close inspection, this quick movement happened when someone approached the jar. The movement appeared to be aimed at averting the danger. Without necessarily approaching the jar, the mosquito in the pupae stage appeared to spend much of its time resting.

After about three days, the pupae appeared to have been slit and the adult mosquito emerges from the slit. Slowly and carefully, the adult mosquito makes its way out from the pupae case, after which it floats on the water. At this adult stage, the mosquito appears to rest most of its time and this can be attributed to its lack of fully formed wings. It also appears to move away from the centre of the jar to the sides of the jar.

Due to the collection of multiple larvae, it was interesting to notice that there were different activities for different larvae. Some larvae, after finalising on their pupae stage appeared to move to the adult stage before others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCUSSION

From the results above, it can be seen that the life-cycle of a mosquito is a long process. It takes several days to attain the stage of adulthood. According to Potter, Townsend, and Knapp (2013), mosquitoes require water to thrive. Thus, it can be seen that the availability of water in the jar contributed to the thriving of the mosquito from its larvae stage to adult stage. In the larvae stage, the mosquito is at its initial stages and it has not fully developed. Its movement at this stage is not that as would be expected, because of its lack of wings. However, it still manages to move swiftly through the water through wiggling. Mosquitoes at the larva stage are known to spend most of their lives on the water surface because they have to breathe. Just like other insects, mosquitoes also need to breathe in order to stay alive and they spent much of their time afloat in order to acquire the necessary oxygen for their survival (Gouge, Smith, Olson and Baker, 2001). They also fed on the yeast that was regularly put on the jar to provide them with the necessary food for survival. In order to successfully feed, Purdue University (2008) asserts that the larvae use their mouths to filter any organic materials in the water and use them as food. Baker’s yeast provided the larva with the necessary food to survive during their stages of development since it contained the organic materials that could easily be filtered by the larva.

It also emerged that mosquitoes in their larva staged also shed their skin several times. According to the American Mosquito Control Association (2014), the shedding of skin (molt) is an indication that the insect is growing. This is because their internal and external features are still growing and this is indicated by the shedding of skin. Gouge, Smith, Olson, and Baker (2001) asserted that the skeleton of the larva is contained on the outside; it has to shed this skin (exoskeleton) in order to grow. This process of shedding the exoskeleton is similar to that observed by the crab, which also have to shed their exoskeleton in order to grow. Mosquitoes have to shed their skins (molt or exoskeleton) about four times before they change into the pupa stage and these changes are an indication that the insect is growing and heading to adulthood (American Mosquito Control Association, 2014). During the larva stage, the insect can easily breathe through the siphon which is found at the base of the insect’s abdomen. This siphon, according to Gouge, Smith, Olson, and Baker (2001), is highly significant in the lives of the mosquitoes because it is used by the insect to breathe. The front part of the insects’ mouth appeared to have some brushes through which the larva collected food (from the baker’s yeast and the organic “gunk” from the bottom of the water body).

While the larva may appear inactive because of their tendency to always remain afloat, they are extremely alert also. This was visible especially when the larva felt threatened. This quick movement towards the base of the jar happened when someone went too near to the jar and the larva could flip at heightened speeds towards the base of the jar. This shows that despite their relatively inactive mode, they are alert and can also move at augmented speeds.

Between seven to ten days, the insect’s growth occurs and it enters the pupa stage. The continued shedding of the exoskeleton was an indication that the insect was growing and after the fourth shed, the insect undergoes a transformation to the pupa stage. At the pupa stage, the insect moves from the wiggler insect to the tumbler insect. Additionally, its shape changes and it acquires a comma-like shape. These comma-shaped insects spend most of their time floating on the water’s surface and on closer look; they appear to have small tubes resembling trumpets. Gouge, Smith, Olson, and Baker (2001) asserted that it is through these tubes that the mosquitoes in their pupa stage breathe. However, during the pupa stage, the insects appear to reduce their movement, although this does not mean that the insects are inactive. However, during this stage, they tend to reduce their feeding habits and they feed fewer times at the pupa stage compared to when the developing mosquito was at the larva stage. In about three stages, the pupa is ready to get into the adult stage. Before the transformation from the pupa to the adult stage, the pupa appears to slit from the top to the bottom. It is through this slit that the mosquito will exert pressure and pass on to the adult insect. It is also interesting to note that the pupa stage is somewhat transparent such that the adult form of the insect can be clearly seen from the pupa stage.

The change from pupa to adult mosquito takes about two to three days. The adult emerges from the slit and it enters the final stage of transformation. However, although the insect had transformed into the adult stage but it has not fully developed into a mature adult. During this stage, it still has underdeveloped wings and exoskeleton. This means that immediately after transforming from the pupa to adult, the mosquito cannot fly or bite yet as is the case with a fully developed and mature mosquitoes. After transforming into an adult mosquito, the insect takes some time to rest on the water’s surface which is aimed at making sure the wings have fully developed to facilitate flying (Eckhoff, 2011).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

 

The completion of any project requires truthful and original contributions to his or her specific field of knowledge within a frame of academic excellence. It requires cooperation, coordination and combined effects of several resources of knowledge, energy and time. Therefore I would like to express my full hearted thankfulness to all the people who helped and guided me through this matter of acknowledgement.

 

I am extremely grateful to my professor Dr. Ronaldo Descalzo, for his expert guidance, constant encouragement, valuable suggestions, constructive criticism and sustained interest in the project that tremendously enhanced my perseverance towards my project work.

 

I would also like to thank him for assisting me and collecting the larvae for me from Langley B. C. I also thank my institution, other faculty members, friends and family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Crans, W. J. (2004). A classification system for mosquito life cycles: life cycle types for mosquitoes of the north-eastern United States. Journal of Vector Ecology. Vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1-10.

Eckhoff, P.A. (2011). A malaria transmission-directed model of mosquito life cycle and ecology. Malaria Journal. Vol. 10, no. 303, pp. 1-17.

Gouge, D. H., Smith, K. A., Olson, C., and Baker, P. (2001). Mosquitoes [Online], Available at: < http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/insects/az1221/> [Accessed 3 August 2015].

Online Labs. (2013). Life Cycle of a Mosquito [Online], Available at: <http://amrita.olabs.co.in/?sub=79&brch=15&sim=138&cnt=1> [Accessed 11 August 2015].

Potter, M. F., Townsend, L., and Knapp, F. W. (2013). Mosquitoes: Practical advice for homeowners [Online], Available at: < http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef005.asp> [Accessed 3 Aug 2015].

Purdue University. (2008). Mosquitoes [Online], Available at: <http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publichealth/insects/mosquito.html> [Accessed 3 August 2015].
American Mosquito Control Association. (2014). Life cycle [Online], Available at: < http://www.mosquito.org/life-cycle > [Accessed 3 August 2015].

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