"Two could whip a dog and four could hold down a man" - Mark Twain
We best know mosquitoes for their role in the transmission of diseases, among the more important are malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and the encephalitides and filarial worms. Of these, malaria is by far the most important. According to recent data released by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, mosquitoes infect A MINIMUM OF 500 MILLION people with the disease each year, and more than two million -- mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa -- die of it.
A knowledge of mosquito biology is necessary to understand the epidemiology of mosquito-borne disease and for a successful mosquito control program. Mosquitoes are insects belonging to the order Diptera, the True Flies. Like all True Flies they have two-wings, but unlike other flies, their wings have scales and their mouthparts (in female mosquitoes) form a long piercing-sucking proboscis. Males differ from females by having feathery antennae and mouthparts not suitable for piercing skin. Nectar is their principal food source.
The Spanish called the mosquitoes, "musketas," and the native Hispanic Americans called them "zancudos." "Mosquito" is a Spanish or Portuguese word meaning "little fly" while "zancudos," a Spanish word, means "long-legged." The use of the word "mosquito" is apparently of North American origin and dates back to about 1583. In Europe, mosquitoes were called "gnats" by the English, "Les moucherons" or "Les cousins" by French writers, and the Germans used the name "Stechmucken" or "Schnacke." They called mosquitoes a variety of names in Scandanavian countries including "myg" and "myyga"while the Greeks called them "konopus." In 300 B.C., Aristotle referred to mosquitoes as "empis" in his "Historia Animalium" where he documented their life cycle and metamorphic abilities. Modern writers used the name Culex and it is retained today as the name of a mosquito genus.
What is the correct plural form of the word mosquito? In Spanish they would be "mosquitos" but in English "mosquitoes"is correct.
E-Mail Mike Cantwell, Maryland Department of Agriculture Mosquito Control
50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401