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The first stage are the eggs which are laid by female
mosquitos in a moist place such as: puddles or the inside of an old tire where
condensation is found. The eggs of Culex
are laid by the female mosquitos in batches of 50 to 100 in tiny clumps that
are around a quarter-inch long and tend to float together on the surface of the
water. The eggs that are white in the beginning turn to a near black within a
day. Most of the times they hatch in one to three days, however it usually
depends on the temperature. Once the eggs hatch, the mosquito larvae comes out.
The larvae are the baby stage of mosquitos. The larvae are aquatic creatures that
feed on algae, bacteria, and other microorganisms in the water. Most of their
time is spent hanging upside down from the surface while sucking in oxygen from
the breathing tubes that are located in their tails. “The New South Wales
Department of Natural Reources in Austrailia describes them as ‘hairy maggots
with siphon,’ covered on the lower half by a cocoon.” Since mosquitos are
cold-blooded, they depend on external heat sources to warm their bodies due to
which the temperature plays an important role in their development. The
mosquito larvae grow faster if the temperature is warmer. It takes about a week
for most of the larvae to develop as they shed their skin four times to become mosquito
pupae. The mosquito pupae do not feed at all. They tend to swim around in the
water. The mosquito pupae have short, curved bodies with a large head at one
end and flippers for swimming at the other. They live at the surface due to
their light weight, and just like the larvae, mosquito pupae have to take in
oxygen from time to time through two breathing tubes. It takes approximately
four days for the pupae to develop into an adult mosquito inside the cocoon,
again depending on the temperature of the water. Once the pupal tissue develops
into an adult mosquito, the adult uses the air pressure to split the cocoon and
emerge. Usually, the new mosquitos tend to rest on the surface to let their wings
dry out and their bodies harden. Adult mosquitos have a head with two large
compound eyes, a thorax, a pair of scaled wings and six jointed legs. They have
two things in mind when they come out of their cocoons: feed and mate. If they
are successful in doing both, there are more mosquitos to bother us.

Now that we know about the life cycle of mosquitos. Another
question that might arise in one’s mind is how have mosquitos evolved to suck
on human blood?

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To answer this question let’s look at the “Unique mosquito
that lives in the London Underground.” There are mosquitos that live in the
underground as they have evolved to live in the unique conditions of the tube
environment. “Over the course of the war, almost 180,000 people sheltered in
the Underground.” People sheltering in the Underground were pestered by all
sorts of insects such as flies, ticks, lice, and fleas as they were very common
during that time.

“The London Underground mosquito is a genetically distinct
subspecies.” Katharine Byrne, a London-based doctoral student, collected
mosquitos from seven sites across the 180km network. Her results showed that these
mosquitos were essentially different from the mosquitos that lived above
ground. The very common species of mosquito, Culex pipiens that lived above-ground only bit birds, however, the Culex
pipiens molestus tend to feed on human blood.

“The Culex is a
very common mosquito,” says biologist Bruno Gomes from the Liverpool School of
Tropical Medicine. “There are hundreds or thousands of types of them and they’re
not very harmful.”

Along with having different diets, the two species have
different behaviours as well. Culex
pipiens, the above-ground mosquito, need blood to lay their eggs, hibernate
in the winter, and need a lot of space to mate. On the other hand, Culex pipiens molestus does not require
any of these. There only similarity being their looks. The differences were
caused by the different lifestyles that both species are exposed to. The
underground species adapted to their underground life: where there were no
birds to feed on so they fed on mammals that would be present in the
Underground, mostly rats and humans; they had to mate in closed areas unlike
there above-ground relatives because there were no open spaces in the
Underground; and lastly they lost their tendency to hibernate as the
Underground does not have different seasons. This is a direct representation of
allopatric speciation as there was a physical barrier that separated them. “After
the London Underground system’s construction, the tunnels were largely sealed
off from the surface, and some of the mosquitos found themselves trapped
underground.” It created two different populations that are no longer able to
interbreed due to the differences in their mating behavior. The above-ground
mosquitos tend to form big swarm to pair with their mating partner, however the
underground mosquitos tend to choose their mates individually.

Although some may argue that the Culex pipiens molestus are their own species. The genetic makeup of
Culex pipiens is so closely related that
it is near impossible not to say that the one species evolved from the other.

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