aedies aegypti

The mosquito that has attracted the most attention is the mosquito Aedesaegypti. It belongs to the family Culcidae, consisting of about 2,500 species(Encyclopedia Britanica 1999), along with other genera of mosquitoes such asAnopheles, Culex, Orthopodomyia, and the Toxorynchites, to name a few (Womack1993, E.B. 1999). This mosquito has been known best for transmitting yellow fever andhuman dengue throughout the tropic and subtropic of the Americas (Womack, M 1993). This mosquito along with others are looked upon as pests and nuisances in modern daysociety because of their attraction to moisture, lactic acid, carbon dioxide, body heat andmovement (E.B. 1999) but we can not confuse the Aedes aegypti with any othermosquito for it has a very distinct look to it as well as a specific habitat. It has manyrelated species and it’s geographic distribution is extremely wide and varied.

The Aedes aegypti, with regard to both sexes, are generally similar in coloration(Womack 1993). The female adult is noticed by it’s small dark figure that is colored bywhite markings and banded legs. Its proboscis or snout is mostly black with regard tothe white palp tips (Russel 1996). The dorsal pattern of white scales on the scutum is inthe shape of a lyre’ with two central based stripes that contrast with the dark scalespresent on the insect (Womack 1993, Russel 1996). Its wings are dark scaled and femur and hind legs are pale scaled forabout three-quarters, and dark scaled for about two-thirds (Russel 1996). The first through the fourth segments of the hind tarsi are characterized by white ringsand the fifth segment is all white.

Adults can be found in abundance in towns and cities near human dwellingplaces., living in trees, herbaceous plants, dim closets, cabinets or even old automobiletires (Womack 1993, Juliano 1998). The species feeds mostly during the day increasingits feeding rate two hours after sunrise and several hours before sunset ( Womack1993, Geographical Magazine 1998), while it is not rare for females to feed underartificial light at night. The above feeding habits of the Aedes aegypti contributes to thespecies’ life span which is dependent on nutrition, temperature and humidity (Womack1993) as well as its ability to avoid predators such as reptiles or even sometimes othertypes of mosquitoes (E.B. 1999). The male mosquito can only live a short time rangingfrom a few days to a couple weeks whereas the female can live up to a month whichallows her to reproduce longer (Womack 1993). They lay their eggs in artificial containers on damp surfaces such as jars, urns,cans or anything that can contain rain water (Womack 1993, Juliano 1998). The eggshatch when they become flooded by deoxygenated water, except during winter(Womack1993, Juliano 1998) and after which can only survive in temperatures above ten degreesor below 44 degrees Celsius (Womack 1993). The larvae feed on aquatic microbiotawhich develops inside the artificial containers in which the eggs are laid (Womack 1993). In the pupal stage they are freeswimming and active and breathe by means of tubes on the thorax (E.B. 1999). The limitations of availability of habitat has greatly affected the geographicdistribution of the species.

They have a “cosmopolitan range extending from 40 degrees N to 40 degrees Slatitude.” says Womack (1993). It is found throughout the world in tropic and subtropicregions (Womack 1993). The species has been distributed throughout New Englandstaying close to the marshes and damp areas and away from dry and cold climates. It isnot only the dry and cold climates that threaten the Aedes aegypti but one of itsassociated species as well. The Aedes albopictus is an Asian mosquito that was introduced to North Americain the 1980s (Hawley 1988, OMeara et al. 1992,1993,1995, Juliano 1998). It has spreadthroughout the north and now threatens declines in the Aedes aegypti because of its”positive population growth at higher combined density and lower per capita resourceavailability” (Juliano 1998). The A. albopictus is a successful invader because of itsgeneralized habitat, its adaptation to many climates, ability to live in human dominatedareas, as well as its food requirements and its desiccation resistant eggs (Hawley 1988,Focks et al. 1994, Juliano 1998). The “primary determinant of success” says Juliano (1998) “was survivorship to adulthood.” The Aedes aegypti only survived well in it’senvironment when it was raised alone at a low density with a high resource availability(Juliano 1998). Competition for these resources among larvae is what seems tosufficient in accounting the near replacement of the A. aegypti with the A. albopictus. Itis a species that lives to survive, feed and reproduce and although this may not seemdifficult, Juliano has shown us that Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection isone that prevails in all species of organisms and in this battle the A. aegypti is losing to afellow, more adapted mosquito the A. abopictus.

Some other related species of the A. aegypti are the A. notoscriptus (Russel1996), the A. triseriatus, A. atropalupus, Othopodomyia signifera, Toxorhynchites rutilis,Culex nigripalpus, Culex quinquefasciaus, Culex resuans, and Culex salinarius(Womack 1993).

The A. aegytpi is a species best known for infecting people with such diseases asyellow fever and human dengue. Its life cycle is very simple compared to many otherorganisms. The female feeds on a blood diet to mature her eggs (E.B. 1999), and shelays them in a damp artificial container. The time for development of these eggs tomosquitoes is anywhere from four to ten days depending on the water temperature andthe food supply (Womack 1993). Soon after the organism passes through the pupalstage they mate and start the cycle over again.

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