There are approximately 2,700 species of mosquitoes world wide. Fortunately, only 52 species are found in Massachusetts. These 52 species are in 11 genera; the most common genera are Aedes, Culex, Culiseta, Coquillettidia and Ochlerotatus. Each genus may exhibit a slightly different lifecycle. But most insects including mosquitoes have the following stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.


Generally, male mosquitoes emerge a few days before female mosquitoes. This gives the males a chance to mature before the females emerge. The males use their feathery antennae to hear the wings of the newly emerged females. Each mosquito species has a different sound to its wings so the males can find females of the same species. After they mate the female will look for a blood meal. Only the adult female mosquito blood feeds. She needs the energy from the blood to develop her eggs. She obtains energy for herself from nectar. The male mosquito feeds only on nectar. Not all mosquito species feed on human blood.  Some mosquito species exhibit host preferences for birds or reptiles and amphibians while others do not blood feed at all.


Once the female has obtained her blood meal she will find a quiet place to rest and develop her eggs. It may take several days for the eggs to develop. When she is ready to lay her eggs she will seek out an appropriate place. The site selected and the way the eggs are laid largely depends on the species and genera. The site may be the edges of a drying puddle or on the surface of the water in a container. If she is in the genus Aedes she will most likely lay her eggs singly on the edge of a drying puddle. If she is in the genus Culex or Culiseta she will lay her eggs in a raft on the surface of the water. Each raft will contain several hundred eggs. She will repeat this cycle of obtaining blood meals and laying eggs until she dies. Most females die before they obtain their second blood meal but some may blood feed two or three times. Those females that obtain two or more blood meals, are the ones that may transmit diseases since they have come in contact with the blood of several different hosts.