Mosquitoes eat different foods depending on gender and life stage. Mosquito larvae live in stagnant pools of water and primarily consume algae and microscopic aquatic organisms. Once they pupate, the mosquitoes cease feeding until metamorphosis occurs and they become adults. Adult females primarily feed on the blood of other animals, while the males feed on flower nectar.
All mosquitoes share a number of similarities, such as the need to deposit their eggs in water, but great variation exists in the habits of the more than 2,500 mosquito species that live worldwide. For example, different species prefer different types of aquatic environments for egg deposition; some prefer tidal flats, while others prefer swamps. Some species, such as those of the genus Culex and Aedes, frequently feed on the blood of humans. However, Aedes mosquitoes do not typically enter dwellings to feed on people, while Culex mosquitoes do so regularly.
Mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles are particularly noteworthy for humans: These mosquitoes can carry and transmit malaria, which is caused by a tiny parasite that lives inside the blood of humans. When a mosquito bites an infected human, some of the parasites may travel into the insect’s stomach. Then, when that mosquito bites another person, some of the parasites may invade the second person’s bloodstream.