Garden Word of the Day
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A mosquito the size of an elephant?!!? Now that would be terrifying.
Luckily for us, elephant mosquitos, and their siblings in crime, treehole mosquitos, are mosquito predators. This means they eat mosquito larvae. They eat a lot of mosquito larvae. Each one may consume 5,000 mosquito larvae before they reach adulthood.
And you don’t need to start worrying about the adults either. Instead of blood, adults use sugar from nectar to produce their eggs.
Predatory mosquito description
Elephant mosquitos (Toxorhynchites rutilus septentrionalis) and treehole mosquitos (T. r. rutilus) are larger than blood-sucking varieties. The wingspan is similar to an American quarter. They are also more brightly colored than biting mosquitos. These predators have bright yellow markings with green or blue metallic bars. The larvae are also larger than their blood-sucking counterparts.
Predatory mosquito development
Predatory mosquitos start out like other mosquitos. White, football-shaped eggs are laid in tree cavities and other spaces that contain water. They also use all the other stagnant waters that pesky mosquitos use: flower pots, pet watering bowls, patio furniture, and tires. Mosquito eggs are the size of a grain of sand.
The eggs hatch into larvae. Predatory mosquito larvae go through four growth stages or instars. As they grow, they feed on anything nearby that moves, including each other. And this presents a problem.
The problem with predatory mosquitos is that you generally haven’t been able to buy them. Unlike our cheery ladybugs and voracious praying mantis, predatory mosquitos don’t take kindly to mass commercial breeding programs. They simply eat each other. Instead of hundreds of helpful predators, you’d end up with a handful of overfed gluttons. Scientists are working on this. For now, the best thing you can do is maintain a healthy environment with lots of biodiversity and use pesticides judiciously.
While Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will kill biting mosquitos, it doesn’t seem to affect their predatory cousins.
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