A mosquito’s development occurs in distinct stages, and the pupal stage of a mosquito’s life cycle is step three of four.

Mosquito pupae are also called “tumblers” because they tumble like tiny gymnasts when swimming.

We look at a few facts about pupal mosquitoes and what you can do about them in the brief article below.

Quick Facts

  • Pupae breathe by coming to the water’s surface, using “trumpets” to bring in air.
  • Their skin splits along the surface when the adult mosquito is ready to emerge.
  • Mosquitos do not eat during the pupal stage of their life cycle. 

Life Cycle

We’ve already explored the earlier stages of the mosquito life cycle (eggs and larvae), so let’s look at how long the pupal stage lasts and what happens during this stage of a mosquito’s life cycle.

Once the larvae have finished each stage, or instar, of their molting cycle, they develop into pupae, their long, wriggly bodies transformed into a rounded bulge with a curved tail.

The pupae, just like larvae, remain just below the water’s surface.  Although they can swim at this stage of development, pupae spend most of their time floating.

During this time of seeming inactivity, the adult mosquito’s body is developing inside the pupal skin.  This process is similar to a chrysalis for caterpillars as they develop into butterflies, though mosquitoes are much less welcome than their colorful counterparts.

After the adult mosquito’s body has fully developed inside the pupae, it forces its way out of the skin, breaches the water surface, and flies off in search of food once its body hardens enough to withstand the rigors of flight.

The pupal stage of mosquito development can take between two days and one week.

Food Source(s)

Interestingly, while mosquitos remain in the pupal stage, they don’t eat.

Health Impact

Thankfully, mosquito pupae don’t eat anything, so they aren’t passing any diseases along; and even if ingested by animals drinking the water they’re living in, don’t typically cause harm to the animal. 

Pupal Mosquito Control

Because the pupae can only develop in water, there are a few things you can do to keep them from reaching the adult phase:

  • Eliminate any areas of standing water in your yard/outdoor space (including draining bird baths).
  • Regularly maintain outdoor pools and water features to make them inhospitable for pupae by making sure the pump is in good working order and proper levels of chlorine are used.
  • Apply mineral oil to standing water to drown the mosquito pupae before they can mature into adults.

*Note: Mosquito dunks will only kill larvae, not pupae, since the pupae do not feed, and feeding is required for the dunks to be effective.

Although killing mosquitoes at the pupal stage is possible, it appears that killing mosquitoes when they are still in the larval stage is the most effective way to control them.


  1. Wikipedia, “Mosquito.”
  2. Wikipedia, “Aedes Aegypti.”
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Mosquito Life Cycle.”
  4. Environmental Protection Agency, “Mosquito Life Cycle.”
  5. Popular Mechanics, “How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your Yard.”
  6. Environmental Protection Agency, “Controlling Mosquitoes at the Larval Stage.”
  7. Illinois Department of Public Health, “Mosquitoes and Disease.”
  8. Daily Puppy, “Can Mosquito Larvae Cause Heartworm in Dogs?”

Other Stages of Life Cycle

Learn more about other stages of a mosquitoes’ life cycle: