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Mosquitoes



Mosquitoes
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.21

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    blood-sucking, burning, dengue, encephalitis, filariasis, lifecycle, maniac, mosquito-transmitted, prolific, repellent, singularly, swelling, syringe-like, tumbler, slow-moving, medication
     content words:    West Nile


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Mosquitoes   

1     On a list of the world's most hated insects, mosquitoes usually have a high rank. We dislike them because bites from mosquitoes can cause skin irritation and swelling. The itching, burning feeling from mosquito bites can be so unpleasant that no medication seems to relieve it. To make matters worse, mosquitoes are carriers of dreadful -- if not deadly -- diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, encephalitis, West Nile virus, and filariasis. It is no wonder that we use any means we can to try to keep their population under control! To do that, we must first understand their lifecycle.
 
2     Mosquitoes start their life in the form of eggs. Before a female mosquito lays a batch of eggs, she has to take in extra protein. To obtain it, she turns into a tiny vampire. Using her syringe-like mouthpart, a female mosquito can easily pierce through our skin to draw blood. Once she satisfies her thirst for blood, she flies away and lays as many as 400 eggs on the surface of standing or slow-moving water. Depending on the species, a female mosquito's eggs may float either alone or in clusters (called rafts). Usually within a few days, these eggs hatch into larvae, also called wrigglers.
 
3     A wriggler feeds on organic debris and microorganisms in the water. It has a tube (called a siphon) that it uses to poke above the water's surface for breathing. After shedding its skin (molting) four times, the mosquito larva is ready to enter the third stage of its life -- the pupa (or tumbler). During this period, the pupa continues to live in the water. It bears two horn-like siphons on its thorax for easy access to air. It does not eat. Rather, it puts all its efforts into transforming itself. When the metamorphosis is complete, a slender, winged adult mosquito emerges from the pupa. As soon as it is strong enough to fly, it takes off from the water's surface. Within a few days, it starts breeding. If the adult mosquito is a male, he will spend his lifetime feeding on nectar and other plant juices. If it is a female, she will enjoy the same sugary diet until she is ready to reproduce. Then, she becomes a blood-sucking maniac!

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