Most of us may think that all mosquitoes suck blood and that blood is their only source of food. Actually, nothing of this is true. First of all, not all mosquitoes suck blood, but only female mosquitoes (and not of all species for that matter), male mosquitoes don’t have specific mouthparts to pierce skin and access blood vessels, so they couldn’t suck blood if they wanted to. And second, blood is not the primary source of food for female mosquitoes, as they feed on the nectar of plants to get sugar that they need for energy. In this article we look at the primary feeding habits of male and female mosquitoes.
What mosquitoes eat
As you may know for now, mosquitoes don’t bite us because they hate humans as race or they just want to eat. Actually, blood is needed for female mosquitoes to develop their eggs. More specifically an adult female mosquito needs protein from blood to develop eggs before laying them into water. Once eggs have been laid into water, a female mosquito can go seek for another blood meal to lay next batch of eggs and repeat this process multiple times a summer.
This is the reason why male mosquitoes don’t bite humans, they simply don’t need our blood, because they don’t lay eggs. So naturally male mosquitoes don’t have the mouthparts needed to pierce a human skin and suck blood.
Interesting fact, recently scientists have developed a way to interact with the chromosomes of mosquitoes in a way, that a female mosquito only lays eggs from which male mosquitoes are born, this way the mosquito population will naturally end after some generations. These experiments have proved to be successful in lab, but we will have to wait and see how effective they are in a real life conditions.
Although male and female mosquitoes may differ in a way that one sucks blood and have specific mouthparts to do so and other don’t, actually they have one thing common about feeding – both eat nectar from fruits and flowers.
Both male and female mosquitoes need energy to fly, reproduce and live. Although female mosquitoes can take some energy from the blood they suck, it is not enough, so they, similar as male mosquitoes, need to seek for other foods that will give them energy. The foods mosquitoes eat to get energy in form of a sugar are nectar from plants, fruit juices, honey dew and other natural juices that are filled with sugars. The sugary liquids are stored in the abdomen of a mosquito, for female mosquitoes stored separately from blood. This is why some mosquito species can live in areas closer to north, where there are very small number of people and animals, just by sucking nectar out of flowers and plants found in these areas. Different mosquito species use different plants to feed from, similar as not all mosquitoes bite humans.
A male mosquito have a much shorter lifespan than a female mosquito. Male mosquitoes live approx. 1 week, while female mosquitoes can live over a month and some species can even hibernate during a winter to continue the population in the next spring. This is why female mosquitoes need more energy from sugar than male mosquitoes to live. Also, before hibernating female mosquitoes eat more sugars to store more energy, so they can live throughout the cold weather without need for food.
What mosquito larvae eat
Mosquitoes need food also while developing in larvae stage, when they are in water. They feed from microscopic organic particles such as bacterias and plants. Mosquitoes do not feed in pupae development stage.
Do all female mosquito species suck blood from humans
Female mosquitoes need protein from blood to create eggs. However, not all mosquito species need blood to produce eggs, there are few mosquito species in the world that only need carbohydrate to produce eggs. Besides that, there are also some mosquito species that feed from the blood of other animals and do not bite humans (at least when their primary blood sources are around). Generally, mosquitoes suck blood from humans, animals, amphibians, reptiles and birds, but there are some species that prefer to feed only from a specific type of animal, for example livestock, bird or frog, before they go and seek for humans.