by Anjum Makki
When people look at the world around them and contemplate on their own creation and of other animals and insects, they realize that the whole universe, with all its living and non-living elements, consists of the signs revealing that they have been ‘created,’ each of them in their own unique way. And they exist just in order to demonstrate the power, knowledge and art of their ‘Creator’. The responsibility lies in man to understand in them the signs of the Creator and appreciate the wisdom behind each of these creations.
We can do this by taking the example of a lowly insect such as a mosquito. When considering the life-cycle of the mosquito, we can say that it has quite an extraordinary adventure. What is generally known about mosquitoes is that they absorb and feed on blood. Yet, this is not completely true because not all mosquitoes do that. It is only the female of the species that draws blood from other animals, including man. And their need for blood is not related to feeding at all. Actually, both male and female mosquitoes feed on the nectar of flowers. The only reason that females, unlike males, do absorb blood is because their eggs need to mature with the proteins that are contained in the blood. In other words, female mosquitoes absorb blood just to ensure the survival of the new generation.
The development process and its phases is one of the most amazing aspects of the mosquito. This animal converts from a larva into a mosquito after passing through completely different phases.
The mosquito eggs, which are fed with blood, are laid on damp leaves or dried ponds for maturation by the female mosquito, usually during summer season. But prior to this, the mother initially examines the ground thoroughly by using a receptor placed under her abdomen, functioning as a humidity and temperature sensor. She aims at finding a convenient place for her eggs. When the most suitable area is found, she starts to lay her eggs. These eggs, which have a length of less than 1 mm, are arranged in a line either in groups or one after the other. Some species lay their eggs that are joined to each other forming a raft, which may contain up to 300 eggs.
The carefully placed white eggs soon start to change their color. This takes only about a few hours after they are laid down, and they become completely black in color. With this change, they attain an excellent protection against birds and insects. Those birds and animals that live on them cannot recognize their dark color.
It takes a winter for the incubation period to complete. Since eggs are created with a structure to resist a long and cold winter, they survive until spring when their incubation period ends. When the incubation period is complete, the larvae start getting out of their eggs, all around the same time. The first egg is immediately followed by the others. As soon as they get out of the eggs, they start to swim in water. Now, the underwater days start for the mosquitoes.
The continuously fed larvae grow with great speed. Soon the skin covering their body gets too small to let them grow any further. This is the time for their first skin change. The hard and brittle skin gets easily broken. Until this developmental cycle is completed as a whole, the mosquito larvae will change its skin two more times.
Since the life of the mosquito starts in water, the system designed for feeding of the larvae is rather impressive. The larvae empower whirlpools in the water with its feathered prolongations located at the two sides of its mouth, which lead bacteria and other microorganisms for feeding. And a solution also exists for its respiration: each larva has innate diving equipment. They breathe via respiratory tubes at their back while standing upside down in water. This system may be resembled to “snorkels” used by the divers. During the employment of this method, the larvae secrete a sticky secretion from their body in order to prevent water from leaking inside, through the respiratory openings. Shortly, the animal lives with the help of the combined harmony of all these delicate balances.
If it did not have a respiratory tube, it would not survive; if it did not have a sticky secretion, its respiratory tube would be choked.
As the time goes by, most of the larvae change their skin once more. The last skin change is rather different from the others. With this last change, larvae pass onto the final phase of their maturation, the “pupa phase”, and they are ready to become a real mosquito at the end. So, the time has come for the mature pupa to get out of the sheath covering its body.
However, the creature that gets out of the sheath is so different from the earlier phases, that it seems unbelievable for them to be just two developmental phases of the same being. And this metamorphosis is too complicated and delicate to be designed by the larva itself, nor by its mother, or any other thing assisting it.
During this last transition period, there is a threat for the creature, since the respiratory openings above the water may get closed with the leaking of water inside. This will naturally mean that the pupa will be stop breathing and die. From then onwards, respiration will not be done through these holes. Two new air tubes emerge on the head of the pupa. Just before the pupa gets ready for the last skin change, these two tubes rise to the water surface. These will be its means for respiration. During the three or four days of the pupa phase, there will be no nutrition for the mosquito that is yet to be hatched.
Now, the mosquito within the pupa cocoon is mature enough and ready to fly with all its organs and organelles like antennas, trunks, feet, chest, wings, abdomen and large eyes covering most part of its head completely developed. Then, the pupa cocoon is torn at the top. This stage where a complete mosquito will emerge is the most dangerous stage of all. The greatest risk is water leakage into the cocoon. However, the torn top is covered with a sticky liquid preventing the head from contacting water. The mosquito must get out of the water without having any direct contact with water, so only its feet touch the water surface. This instant is extremely important; even a light wind may cause its death. Finally, the mosquito leaves for its first flight after a rest of about half an hour.
It should be noted once again: The animal has got out of water without even touching the water… At this point, the question that should come to mind is, how did the mosquito attain such ability all by itself? Had the larva decided to transform itself into a mosquito after changing its skin three times? This coincidence is almost impossible. This tiny animal, by which it’s Creator gives as an example, i.e. when, we study its life cycle, has specifically been created as it is.
Those of us who wish to draw a lesson, will recognize the role of the Creator, who created the mosquito along with all other animals and human beings in this world.
“Blessed be He in Whose Hands is the Dominion; and He over all things hath Power– He Who created Death and LIfe, that He may try which of you is best in deed; and He is the Exalted In Might, Oft-Forgiving– He Who created the seven heavens one above another: no want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of (Allah) Most Gracious. So turn thy vision again: Seest thou any flaw?” (Qur’an 67:1-4)