Mosquito (from the Spanish meaning little fly) is a common insect in the family Culicidae (from the Latin culex meaning midge or gnat). Mosquitoes resemble crane flies (family Tipulidae) and chironomid flies (family Chironomidae), with which they are sometimes confused by the casual observer.
Mosquitoes go through four stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult or imago. Adult females lay their eggs in water, which can be a salt-marsh, a lake, a puddle, a natural reservoir on a plant, or an artificial water container such as a plastic bucket. The first three stages are aquatic and last 5–14 days, depending on the species and the ambient temperature; eggs hatch to become larvae, then pupae. The adult mosquito emerges from the pupa as it floats at the water surface. Adult females can live up to a month – more in captivity – but most probably do not live more than 1–2 weeks in nature.
Mosquitoes have mouthparts which are adapted for piercing the skin of plants and animals. They typically feed on nectar and plant juices. In some species, the female needs to obtain nutrients from a "blood meal" before she can produce eggs.
There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes found throughout the world. In some species of mosquito, the females feed on humans, and are therefore vectors for a number of infectious diseases affecting millions of people per year.