Common Types of Mosquitos And How To Identify Each One

You’re outside sipping your lemonade, and them bam! You get bit by a mosquito; and then smack! You kill it; but are you aware of what kind of mosquito it was?

Nope, and that’s O.K.! There are way too many mosquitos in the world to keep track of, right?

So I’ll break it down for you and categorize the common types of mosquitos, and how to identify each one. 

1. Aedes

The Aedes genus is one of the most prevalent types of mosquito throughout the United States. 

The Aedes mosquito enjoys temperate degrees within tropical and subtropical environments that have a surplus amount of heat and humidity

They love to spread out and populate within areas of the East Coast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest region, and Southern U.S. because of the type of environment that the location provides.

Originally, these kinds of mosquitos were taken from their native lands of African regions and Asian countries during the transatlantic slave trade, and used  for the purpose of war and conqueur.

How to Identify An Aede

You can identify if you have interacted with an Aedes mosquito by looking at its body. They have a narrow black torso, with small patterns of dark and light scales on their belly and chest, and alternating dark and white bands on their legs. 

If you have crisp vision, you can take a closer look at the abdomen, which is thick in the back and curved to a tip in the front, as well as the maxillary palps (the mouth part that senses blood vessels) which tends to be shorter than its entire mouth.

Also note how the Aedes bites you; its body will be very low and parallel to your skin, while it’s mouth will be higher, and angled downward into your skin. 

They carry diseases as well, mainly Zika and Yellow Fever, which are currently prevalent in the Americas and Africa.

Aedes are an aggressive family of mosquitos, and actually do prefer humans to extract a blood meal from, and they love to be outside during the day, between dawn and dusk. 

So if you live in one of the aforementioned regions of the U.S., it’s likely that you’re dealing with an Aedes mosquito.

2. Culex

The Culex brand of mosquito, also known as the “common house mosquito” is an expansive type that is global within areas such as Asian Pacific countries, North and South America, Africa, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East! 

Fortunately for them, arctic regions are too cold, so they refrain from those lands.The reason for their worldwide outreach is simply because of the type of environment that they not only desire, but need. 

The continents that I previously listed have optimal temperatures of 78 to 85 degrees fahrenheit, and most importantly, standing water for them to successfully lay their eggs. 

How to Identify A Culex

There are 4 common ecotypes where Culex mosquitos can be found: Sewage systems, because of the mixed amount of heat and rainwater; container sources such as wet buckets, tires, and barrels; open sources, like marshes and swamps, and drainage systems found underground or in ditches.

Physical identifiers of the Culex primarily include their appearance and shape. They are generally various shades of brown, with whitish marks throughout their belly, darker-colored brown stripes on their back, and a dark colored head or eyes.

The diseases that they carry – and hopefully you won’t contract – are also key attributes in determining a Culex mosquito; most commonly, West Nile Virus is a huge indicator that a Culex is around. 

In addition, Dog heart-worm and Filarial worms will tip you off as well. They also carry illness that will cause neurological damage such as St. Louis encephalitis virus, and Western equine virus.

Now the difference between the Culex and Aedes is that the Culex prefer to feed at night, and will bite you between the hours of dawn and dusk. 

3. Anopheles

Tropical and subtropical regions of the world such as Haiti, Dominican Republic, larger areas of Africa and Asia, Central and South America, as well as eastern and southeastern states of the U.S. are playgrounds for these little guys.

Anopheles are known to be aggressive biters of humans because of our rich blood source. For that reason alone, we are prone to the specific diseases that they carry. So if you obtain symptoms resembling malaria, it was most likely this mosquito.

Fact: Some Anopheles mosquitos are insecticide-resistant due to constant exposure to pesticides.

Their resistance to chemical death allows them to fly and feed whenever they want, and they usually choose cooler times, like right before dawn and right after sundown, to be functional and feast.

How to Identify Anopheles

The Anopheles genre of mosquitos have significant physical attributes that will help you identify it easily. First, its body is a solid brown-to-black in color, and the head, abdomen, and thorax regions are segmented, thus, making each section very distinguishable.

Unlike the Aedes and Culex, when resting, the Anopheles’s stomach will turn and face upwards, versus being flat and parallel to its sleeping base. They also have slightly various colors in their scales, which results in dimly spotted coloring in their wings.

Knowing where the Anopheles mosquito spends most of its time is another factor in being able to identify one. Their breeding ground usually consist of bodies of fresh water or salt-water. 

They need still-water in order to lay their eggs properly, so you’ll find these critters hanging around the watering hole in the forms of small streams, marshes, forest or ground pools, and irrigated lands like sidewalk ditches or sewers.

Plenty of places around the world have these types of environment, which is why the Anopheles mosquito is also global in nature. 

Final Thoughts

Being able to identify a mosquito that has the potential to infect, and potentially kill you is extremely important. It will allow you to help save a life, including your own. 

Simply put, take heed of this valuable information, and be proud of the fact that you can now identify the common types of mosquitos.

Timothy Collins
Timothy Collins
T.J. is an avid naturalist and writer. He's a major fan of nature, and uses his skills to provide interesting information about the critters that reside in it.

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