Christensen, Bruce M. Department of Veterinary Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Last reviewed:May 2019
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A two-winged fly belonging to the family Culicidae in the insect order Diptera. Mosquitoes are slender, fragile insects (Fig. 1) and are recognized by their long legs, a long and slim abdomen, and narrow wings with characteristic scaled-wing venation. Most notably, adult mosquitoes possess a long proboscis, which is used for piercing and sucking. This anatomical structure is the key feature enabling the mosquito to be a vector (transmitting carrier) of organisms that cause diseases in humans and other animals (for example, dogs and horses). Mosquitoes also are holometabolous insects—that is, they undergo complete metamorphosis with a four-stage life cycle [egg (embryo), larva, pupa, and imago (adult)]—and all larval stages are aquatic. Mosquitoes inhabit all temperate and tropical regions of the world. They are even found in Arctic regions (although absent from Antarctica). See also: Diptera; Economic entomology; Insecta; Metamorphosis; Zoonoses
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