Life Cycle of Culex Species Mosquitoes

Life stages of Culex pipiens, Cx. quinquefasciatus, and Cx. tarsalis

It takes about 7-10 days for an egg to develop into an adult mosquito.

Culex species mosquito life cycle
Eggs
This image depicts what is known as an egg raft, deposited by a female Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito.

Eggs stick together to form a raft.

  • Adult, female mosquitoes lay eggs on the surface of fresh or stagnant water. Water sources can include barrels, horse troughs, ornamental ponds, unmaintained swimming pools, puddles, creeks, ditches, and marshy areas.
  • A female Culex mosquito lays eggs one at a time. Eggs stick together to form a raft of 100 to 300 eggs. The raft floats on the water.
Larva
This image depicts numbers of Culex sp. mosquito larvae, collected from standing water in an Atlanta, Georgia residential area.

Larvae live in the water.

  • Larvae hatch from mosquito eggs and live in water.
  • Larvae can be seen in the water. They are very active and are often called “wigglers.”
  • They feed on a variety of things found in the water.
  • Larvae shed their skin (molt) several times during this stage.
Pupa
  • Pupae live in water. Pupae do not have external mouthparts and do not feed during this stage.
  • An adult mosquito emerges from a pupa and flies away.
Adult
This image depicts a close-up left, anterior-oblique view of a Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito, which had landed on the photographer’s finger, in search of a blood meal from its human host.

Female mosquito after a blood meal.

  • Adult female mosquitoes bite people and animals. Mosquitoes need blood to produce eggs.
  • After blood feeding, female mosquitoes look for water sources to lay eggs. Several days pass between feeding and looking for a place to lay eggs.
  • Culex mosquitoes don’t fly long distances but have been known to fly up to 2 miles (3.2 km).
  • Some Culex mosquitoes prefer to live near and bite birds. They bite people when other animals are not nearby.
  • Because Culex bite animals and people, they live outdoors or near homes.

Related Resources

Mosquito Life Cycle: Culex species mosquitoes