While many people may think that all mosquitoes drink blood and that this is their only source of food, actually, that isn’t true.
First of all, not all mosquitoes drink blood, only female mosquitoes do. When males were fed blood in a laboratory setting, it reduced their survival from over a month to a few days.
Furthermore, male mosquitoes lack the specific mouthparts needed to pierce the skin and access blood vessels, so they could not suck blood, even if they wanted to.
Finally, blood is not the primary food source for female mosquitoes as they feed on the nectar of plants to get the sugar that they need for energy.
In this article, we will find out what mosquitoes do eat and look at the primary feeding habits of male and female mosquitoes.
What do adult mosquitoes eat?
As you may know, mosquitoes do not bite us because they are hungry or because they simply hate the human race. Female mosquitoes actually need blood to produce their eggs. More specifically, an adult female mosquito needs a certain protein found in blood to ensure that their eggs develop and mature. Once her eggs have been laid, a female mosquito can go seek another meal of blood before laying her next batch of eggs. She can repeat this process multiple times in a summer.
This is the reason why male mosquitoes do not bite humans, they simply do not need our blood because they do not lay eggs. So, it is logical that male mosquitoes would lack the mouthparts needed to pierce an animal’s skin and drink their blood.
Interestingly, scientists have recently developed a means of essentially silencing the X chromosome during sperm production so that only male mosquitoes will be born. In this way, they hope that the mosquito population will die out after a few generations. While these experiments have been proven successful in a lab, we will have to wait and see how effective they are in real life.
Even though male and female mosquitoes differ in their specific mouthparts and the fact that one needs blood and the other does not, they actually have one thing common: they both feed on nectar and other sugars from plants (both fruits and flowers).
Both male and female mosquitoes need energy to fly, reproduce, and live. While female mosquitoes can get some energy from the blood they drink, it is not enough. This is why they, like male mosquitoes, need to seek other food sources that will give them energy.
Mosquitoes get their energy from the nectar of plants, fruit juice, honeydew, and other sugary plant juices. These liquids are stored in the crop (an organ in the abdomen) of a mosquito. In a female mosquito, the sugars they consume are stored separately from the blood. Different mosquito species feed on different plants.
A male mosquito has a much shorter lifespan than a female. Male mosquitoes typically live for approximately one week, while female mosquitoes live for two to three weeks. Some species can even hibernate during the winter to continue their population the following spring. This is why female mosquitoes need more energy than male mosquitoes to live. Also, before hibernating, female mosquitoes will eat more sugar to store more energy, so they can survive the cold weather without needing additional food.
What do mosquito larvae eat?
Mosquitoes also need food while in their larval stage. This is when they are in the water after hatching, before becoming adult mosquitoes.
Mosquito larvae feed on microscopic organic particles such as bacteria and plants. Developing mosquitoes do not feed during the pupa stage.
Do all mosquito species need blood to reproduce?
In general, female mosquitoes need the proteins from blood to create their eggs. However, not all mosquito species need blood to produce eggs. There are few mosquito species in the world that only need carbohydrates to produce eggs.
There are also some mosquito species that only feed on the blood of other animals and do not bite humans. (At least, when their primary blood source is around.)
Generally, mosquitoes will drink blood from mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, but there are some species that prefer to feed only from a specific type of animal, for example, livestock, birds, or frogs, before they will seek human blood.