Mosquitoes and their predators love wet weather
Washington County naturalist Pam Holz said the wet weather this year has been a boon for mosquitoes. Fortunately for their victims, it has also been a banner year for animals that prey upon mosquitoes, which have kept their numbers in check.
Rain helps mosquitoes because it provides them with an environment in which to lay their eggs. Holz said female mosquitoes typically lay their eggs in standing ponds, but can lay them in standing water of nearly any depth. She said 1 inch of water in a bucket left outside is enough to accommodate a female mosquito to swoop down and lay her eggs.
“Mosquitoes can thrive in old tires, containers, or anything that will hold water,” said Holz. “If your gutters are not cleaned out, they will breed in there, too.”
Holz said the easiest way to eliminate mosquitoes is to eliminate stagnant water rather than use spray. She said eliminating stagnant water is virtually impossible to do in a year such as this when one rain cloud drifts away only to make room for another.
Warm temperatures also help mosquitoes by causing them to develop more quickly, said Holz.
“The warm weather means the puddles they’re in will dry up quicker, so they have to grow faster,” said Holz.
The very same weather that allows mosquitoes to thrive also promotes the breeding of their predators. Dragonflies are the mosquitoes’ chief predator, and they, too, lay their eggs in water. Holz said dragonfly eggs are rarely found in the same pond as mosquitoes because the young dragonfly nymphs eat the mosquito larvae. Holz has a conservation program on water bugs, and said mosquito larva is a favorite treat of many insects, especially dragonflies.
“Dragonflies are voracious predators even just after they’ve hatched,” said Holz. “I’ve seen pictures of them eating tadpoles and fish.”
For the full story, see the Aug. 18 edition of The Washington Evening Journal