How Big Can Mosquitoes Get?
Growth & Development
Mosquitoes develop into adults by complete metamorphosis, a process that involves four different life stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult.
Larvae Molt as They Grow
Of the life stages, only the mosquito larvae stage grows, doing so by molting and shedding their “skin” as they grow from small 1st instar (stage) larvae that may be as small as ⅛ inch long, to 4th instar larvae that are about ½ inch long.
Adults and pupae do not molt and therefore do not grow in size.
The size of mosquito adults are species-specific, meaning size depends upon the species and also somewhat by the nutritional conditions of the larvae’s aquatic environment.
Less Than an Inch Long
In general, adult mosquitoes are relatively small insects that generally are about 0.15– 0.4 inches long, although some species can be less than 0.1 inches long. However, most mosquito adults commonly encountered are close to the same size.
Examples of some common mosquito adults and their respective sizes include:
- Southern house mosquito – 0.2 in.
- Anopheles mosquito – 0.2 in.
- Northern house mosquito – 0.25 in.
- Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito) – 0.3 in.
- Asian tiger mosquito – 0.35 in.
Mosquitoes belonging to the genus Psorophora are exceptionally large when compared to other most other mosquito genera. One of the largest species among this group is Psorophora ciliata, a floodwater-inhabiting mosquito that is about as long as the diameter of a quarter.
The Largest Mosquito in the World
The mosquito recognized as one of the largest in the world is the Australian elephant mosquito Toxorhynchites speciosus, which is about 1.5 inches long. Fortunately, this mosquito is not a blood feeder.
Mosquito Size & Blood Meals
Do female mosquitoes get bigger after consuming a blood meal? Anyone who has watched a female mosquito take a blood meal knows the answer is yes.
However, the increased size of her abdomen as it fills with blood is only temporary and the female returns to her normal size after digesting her blood meal.