Types of Mosquitoes & Mosquito Habitats

The eggs are laid on a water surface or a place where flooding will occur. These eggs are laid singly or in bunches. After the eggs, they proceed to larvae, then pupae. Larvae and pupae can live in all types of water except fast-flowing water. Certain mosquitoes have distinct water habitats. Even though mosquitoes live in water, they need to come to the surface for air or get air from plants underwater. When they come to the surface to breathe, they have different characteristic positions of how they breathe on the surface. The larvae period lasts from 4-10 days, then forms pupae. The pupae stage lasts from one day to a few weeks. When the mosquito is ready to hatch out of the pupae, they rise to the surface and emerge.

  • There are about 12 genera and 150 species of mosquitoes found in the USA. A few of these are carriers of diseases, but more of them are simply nuisances.

Below is a list of some of the mosquitoes in the common Anopheles, Aedes, and Culex genera.

Mosquito (Diptera Class) - Life Cycle (Complete Metamorphosis)

  • Anopheles - Found in all states except Hawaii (as yet). As a distinguishing mark, their bodies are slanted. Females lay hundreds of eggs after each breeding. Bite at night, at dusk, or before dawn. Larvae rest parallel to the water surface instead of hanging down in the water. They spend their days in dark, damp, and protected areas. They lay eggs singly on the surface of the water.

    • Anopheles quadrimaculatus is the one that transmits malaria. It is found in southern and eastern states and some of the Midwest. It lays its eggs in ponds or swamps in clear water, not too stagnant. They are found in small bodies of freshwater pools and runoffs.

    • Anopheles punctipennis is widely distributed in the USA, almost in every state. It s a permanent water mosquito but also breeds in places like rain barrels, tree holes, and grassy bogs.

    • Anopheles walkeri is similar but may overwinter its egg.

    • Anopheles freeborni also transmits malaria and lives in the western part of the USA. Larvae of this type develop in streams, irrigation canals, and rice fields.

  • Aedes - A very common mosquito in the USA; in fact, over half of the mosquitoes are Aedes species. They do not require the warm temperatures to survive, thriving in cooler temperatures. They overwinter with their eggs drying out and hatch out in the spring with wet weather. The Aedes aegypit is common in the southeast and breeds in stagnant water. It overwinters, and eggs hatch out during the warm weather.

    • Aedes albopicutus, Asian tiger mosquito, is common in the south, east, and midwest. This mosquito is a daytime feeder; the females may bite aggressively. They need a blood meal to hatch eggs. They are white with silver stripes(which looks like a tiger). Eggs are laid in clean standing water like cavities of trees, flower pots, and birdbaths. They do not lay eggs in marshes or ditches. Their larvae are called "wrigglers" as they wriggle or swim through the water; afterward, they change into pupae. Adults emerge in 10-14 days after eggs are hatched. They can stay in the winter in egg states, then hatch out when covered with water during the spring and summer months. The Asian tiger mosquito has become common because it can breed on most any type of water-filled container. This mosquito has become a huge nuisance in many southern cities of the USA. Typically these mosquitoes do not fly more than 1/2 mile but breed rapidly. They transmit more than 30 diseases, such as dengue, malaria, and encephalitis viruses (inflammation of the brain). They first discovered in the USA in 1985 when introduced in imported tire casings imported for recapping.

    • Aedes canadiens is common in woodlands in the northern USA.

    • Aedes aegypti -Yellow Fever mosquito. This type has been in the USA for centuries, with similar breeding and habitats of the Asian tiger mosquitoes. The Asian tiger mosquito has replaced much of its population but still common in some regions.

    • Aedes solicitans (Saltwater mosquitoes). They breed in salt marshes in the mid and north Atlantic coast. They swarm and migrate as far as ten miles at night, bit aggressively. Transfer Eastern equine encephalitis to people and horses.

    • Aedes taeniorhynchus (Saltwater mosquitoes) They are found along the Atlantic and California coasts breeding in salt marshes. They bite fiercely during the day and produce a larger number of mosquitoes throughout the summer months.

    • Aedes nigromaculis is found in the western plains, as far south as Mexico; breeds in floodwaters and irrigated areas; spreads encephalitis and bites aggressively.

    • The Aedes vexans (Floodwater/ Rainpool Mosquitoes) is the most widespread floodwater type of mosquito. They are found mainly in the northern states. They breed in floodwater, hog wallows, rain pools, roadside puddles, and other temporary bodies of freshwater. Larvae and pupae stages take 7-34 days. They cause dog heartworms. It can fly up to ten miles. It bites at dawn or dusk and hides in vegetation during the day, resting. It is not affected much by the winter months.

    • Aedes triseriatus (common in natural/artificial cavities) is a common mosquito that breeds in tree holes and containers. They are mainly found in the eastern United States, but some in the west as far as Montana. They are blue/black with silver/white scales. They are very common in wooded areas. They carry the LaCrosse fever vector.

    • Aedes trivittatus (Floodwater/ Rainpool Mosquitoes) is common west of Idaho in the northern states but has been found in the southern states. Their larvae breed in flooded pools in the woodlands. The mature larvae spend time at the bottom of concealed vegetation. Adults will be active in the evening; rests during the day.

  • Culex - They prefer the tropics and lay their eggs in "rafts," floating on water. One raft may contain hundreds of eggs. These rafts can be found in a small bucket of water or a bigger body of water as a lake (permanent water mosquitoes). Adults bite in the evening and cause several types of diseases.

    • Culex nigripalpus prefer the warm Florida temperatures; it has caused St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and Easter equine encephalitis virus. It is common in stagnant waters and citrus groves. They have a preference for biting rodents and birds but will bite humans. They breed heavily after a lot of rainfall or floods in the summer and fall months.

    • Culex salinarius, a permanent water mosquito, breeds in saltwater and freshwater habitats near the Gulf Coast and Atlantic coasts. It can fly as far as eight miles from its breeding site. Larvae live in cattail bogs, salt marshes, and roadside ditches.

    • Culex tarsalis is sometimes found in the east, but mostly in the west. They survive in winter by hibernating. The larvae live in ditches, ponds, cesspools, irrigation ditches, etc. It is a principal carrier of encephalitis, both the St. Louis encephalitis and west equine encephalitis. When these mosquitoes feed on infected birds, horses, or humans, it is transmitted. They lay their eggs in such places as ditches, ground pools, hoofprints, barrels, ornamental ponds, and basins. Adults can travel up to one mile from breeding areas.

  • Culex pipiens - the House Mosquito may be found in every state of the USA. Their larvae live in stagnant water, such as water in gutters, old tires, etc. They carry St. Louis encephalitis and transmits various diseases. They are brown with white markings. They mostly bite at dusk or after dark. They rest during the daytime hours.

    • Culex pipiens L, common in the northern states. It is found in standing water that is polluted. Typical breeding areas are old tires with water, birdbaths, clogged gutters, and storm drains.

    • Culex restuans- a permanent water mosquito prefers to breed in foul water with decaying vegetation. It is similar to the culex pipiens but found more in the central and eastern states, east of the Rocky Mountains.

  • Mansonia-Permanent - water mosquito

    • The Mansonia titillans is a warm tropical mosquito, found in scattered in the southeastern US, predominately, Florida and new arrival in Georgia and South Carolina. The larvae get their oxygen from the roots of plants and floating leaves.

  • Psorophora - All the Psorophora mosquitoes are Floodwater/Rainpool Mosquitoes. As with all floodwater types of mosquitoes, they lay their eggs on the ground and hatch out when floodwaters come.

    • Psorophora ciliata (Fabricius) are giant mosquitoes and vicious biters. The adults are yellow/brown in color with hairy/shaggy legs. Their larvae feed on other insect larvae. The adults may emerge in as little as five days after hatching. They bite day and night. They are known as "gallinippers." They range in the eastern USA, from the southern border of Texas to Maine, and is very common in the Midwest

    • Psorophora howardii is very similar to the Psorophora ciliata but can be found in the western states as well as the eastern states.

    • Psorophora confinnis (also called Psorophora columbiae) is a medium to a large dark-colored mosquito. Their eggs do not require a dormant winter period; they hatch out whenever they get wet. They produce several generations a year, with adults flying as much as 10 miles from their hatch sites. It is commonly found in rice fields and the Everglades. It is found in the southern states and as far north as Massachusetts and Nebraska. This type is the most widespread of the Psorophora genus. As an aggressive mosquito, it can kill livestock.

Mosquito Habitats

Floodwater and Rainpool Mosquitoes

  • These types of mosquitoes are part of the Aedes genus and all of the Psorophora genus. The Aedes vexans is the most widespread. These mosquitoes do not need to lay their eggs in water to hatch but lay their eggs in moist soil (floodplains, pasture depressions, roadside ditches)or above the water line in natural cavities like tree holes and most of this type of mosquitoes; the eggs need to dry out before they can hatch (however some do not require the dormant winter period). When the water rises, they hatch out.

Salt Water/ Marsh Mosquitoes

  • These mosquitoes lay their eggs on the ground like the Floodwater types, but they only lay eggs where brackish or saltwater will wet them. The Aedes sollicitans and Aedes taeniorrhynchus mosquitoes belong to this group.

Permanent Water Mosquitoes

  • These mosquitoes use permanent bodies of water such as lakes and ponds to lay their eggs. The mosquitoes of the genera Anopheles, Mansoni, and Culex, are permanent water mosquitoes with such species as Anopheles quadrimaculatus, Anopheles freeborni, Anopheles punctipennis, Mansoina perturbans, Culex salinarius, Culex restuans, and Culex tarsalis. They lay their eggs near the shore or in shallow waters in protected areas. They prefer to lay eggs in freshwater where aquatic plants are growing. Their hatching time is one - three days.

Mosquitoes from Natural and Artificial Containers

  • Mosquitoes also lay their eggs in water that are found in tin cans, old tires, tree holes, catch basins, and roof gutters. Common to these types are Culex pipiens, Northern house mosquito found mainly in the northern states, but also as far south a Georgia. The Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus, Southern House Mosquito, found in all southern states and as far north as Ohio. Both of these types, one or the other, cover the whole USA, in both rural and urban settings. Both carry the virus of St. Louis encephalitis. They are medium brown with cross bands of white. Ther eggs hatch in one to two days from rafts of 200-400 eggs on a raft on the surface of the water. They are major biters and may enter homes.

  • The Aedes triseriatus is a very common mosquito that breeds in tree holes and is frequently found in wooded areas. The Aedes aeypti (yellow fever mosquito), common in the Gulf Coast states, is commonly found in small containers and tree holes. They may overwinter in deep cisterns in the southern states. The Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) is a very aggressive biter, found east of the Mississippi River and as far north as Minnesota. Very similar to the yellow fever mosquito but has a white band on the top of its head. They are rapidly breeding in piles of old discarded tires that are found close to cities.

Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.