The Friends of the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves (FCHAP) is a Citizen Support Organization for the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves and the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.

Near the Bottom of the Food Chain

Mosquitoes are two-winged flies that belong to the family Culicidae in the order Diptera. Mosquitoes undergo a life cycle includes 4 distinct forms: eggs , larvae , pupae, and adults.

Female mosquitoes lay eggs toward the end of the fall, and those eggs will remain dormant until spring. Eggs will hatch into larvae within 24 to 48 hours. Larvae soon grow to become approximately 5 mm in length. Most larvae breathe through air tubes (photo). Larger larvae can be seen floating just above the surface of infested waters. Mosquito larvae strain the water for algae and bacteria. The larvae develop through 4 instars before they transform into active, non-feeding pupae. Pupae are also visible upon the surface of the breeding site. The adult's wings, sucking mouthparts, and legs can be seen through the transparent pupal skin. The adult emerges from the pupal skin onto the surface of the water, and then flies to seek carbohydrates and mates. The adults and larvae are anatomically different, reside in different habitats (terrestrial vs. aquatic, respectively), and obtain nutrients from entirely different sources of food.

All mosquitoes require standing water, but the type of water they prefer depends on the species. Some prefer containers, such as tires, tree holes, buckets, and water troughs. Others prefer very stagnant water with lots of organic material. Still others breed primarily in swamps and marshes, some fresh water, and some salt water. Male mosquitoes feed on plant nectar alone. Female mosquitoes bite animals, using the blood as a protein source to develop eggs. Different species vary in their preferred time to feed, but many feed during dawn or dusk.

Dragonfly nymphs (larvae), water beetles and damselflies eat mosquito larvae as part of their natural diets. The mosquito fish (Gambusia holbrooki) can eat as many as 160 larvae in eight hours. Red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripts) are highly effective predators of mosquito larvae.


Water and Math in the Caloosahatchee Watershed

One acre foot equals

  • 326,000 U.S. gallons

  • 43,560 cubic feet

  • 1233 cubic meters

  • 893 gallons per day for 365 days

  • Your bathtub holds about 5 cubic feet. How big is the Caloosahatchee River?

  • In the dry season, the Caloosahatchee River flow can go as low as 300 ft3 (0.007 acre-foot) per second, or 18,000 ft3 (0.4 acre-foot) per minute, or 1.1 million ft3 (25 acre-feet) per hour, or 26 million ft3 (600 acre-feet) per day.

  • In the rainy season, the Caloosahatchee River flows at about 2,000 ft3 (0.05 acre-foot) per second, or 120,000 ft3 (16 acre-feet) per minute, or 7.2 million ft3 (170 acre-feet) per hour or 170 million ft3 (4,000 acre feet per day) per day.

  • The Caloosahatchee watershed contains 1408 square miles, or 900,000 acres. It receives an average of 53" (4.5') of rain every year. That comes to 4.1 million acre-feet of rain that drains into the soil, runs off hardened parking lots and roads, or evaporates.

  • *Because river flows aren't exact, these estimates are rounded to two significant digits. Ask your math teacher why significant digits are important!