One of the biggest scourges of the Ontario back country is the dreaded Mosquito, but there may be some things about them that you did not know.
In Ontario, there are approximately 57 different species of mosquito, most of which can only be distinguished under a microscope. These are broken up into several different genera, which all fall into the order Diptera, which includes all other flies like horse flies, black flies, house flies, fruit flies, but not dragon flies (they have their own order) or fire flies (which are in fact a type of beetle). The different kinds of mosquitos in Ontario behave differently from one another. Some can fly far from their breeding grounds, while other stay close by their stagnant water breeding holes. The different species also prefer to feed at different times of day and night, or in the shade, as opposed to direct sunlight.
The life cycle of the mosquito is fairly simple, with the female laying her eggs in stagnant and standing water. These can be found in low puddles, tree holes, man made sources, sheltered bays and lakes, and boggy swamp areas. The eggs hatch into small larva that feed on vegetation and organic matter in the water before pupating and becoming and adult to complete the cycle. The females are the only ones that bite, and take a blood meal to provide energy and protein to the developing eggs. So the next time you are being bitten by one of these little devils, remember that it’s a girl.
The question is often raised about why these little buggers even exist, but the answer to that is an important one. Although we may find them annoying and the swarms of blood suckers even a little daunting, they are an important part of the food chain and nature’s food web. Because of their abundance, and how easily they are found, they are the basis of many food chains. If they were to disappear, entire ecosystems collapse. Dragonflies and robber flies would lose a main source of food. Bats would no longer be able to eat thousands of them. The larva would no longer be there to sustain small fish and other aquatic predators.
So although you and many other creatures are severely annoyed by these insects, they are essential parts of an ecosystem. Everything plays its part in making nature exactly the way it is and why we love it.