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Mosquito Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

You may think of mosquitoes as annoying pests that bite you and leave itchy bumps behind. What are mosquitoes, and why do they bite us? Keep reading to learn more!

A Tiny Pest

Imagine this scene: You are playing outside one evening. Suddenly, you hear a high pitched buzz in your ear. Then, you feel a sharp sting on your arm! You slap it, and immediately a red, itchy bump appears. You know exactly what got you: a pesky mosquito. A bite from a mosquito can be very uncomfortable, but did you know that mosquitoes can also be deadly? Come along as we examine these tiny pests and learn more about them!

Female mosquito sucking blood from a person
Mosquito

Features of a Mosquito

A mosquito is an insect. To be exact, a mosquito is a type of fly. In fact, the word ''mosquito'' is Spanish for ''little fly.'' Like its cousin, the housefly, a mosquito has one pair of wings. And like all insects, a mosquito has six legs. On its head, the mosquito has two antennae and two compound eyes, but its mouth sets it apart from many other insects.

Just like humans, who have teeth for chewing food, insects have structures called mouthparts. These parts are specialized, depending on the type of insect. They are used for jobs like biting, chewing and sucking. The mosquito has a mouthpart called a proboscis. Similar to a straw, it is used for sucking.

Magnified head of mosquito showing compound eyes, antennae and proboscis
Mosquito

But that's not all. The female's mouthpart is also made for piercing. Guess why: the female mosquito is the only one that bites animals and sucks their blood! Her mouthpart is needle-sharp, and pokes through skin to get blood.

Do Mosquitoes Only Eat Blood?

Some people might believe that mosquitoes feed only on blood. This is not true. Both male and female mosquitoes use their proboscis to suck delicious nectar from flowers. So why do female mosquitoes also suck blood? It is because blood has special nutrients that feed the female's eggs. Now you know one way to tell male mosquitoes from females!

Where Are Mosquitoes Found?

With over three thousand different species, mosquitoes are found almost everywhere in the world. Mosquitoes are especially abundant in areas with marshes and swamps. Why is this? Females lay their eggs in water that is stagnant, or still. In fact, mosquitoes will even lay eggs in a backyard birdbath or pond. This can create quite a neighborhood mosquito problem!

A swamp is a great place for mosquitoes to live
Swamp

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