Okanagan Nature Nuts: What Does Mosquitoes Do?

Hmmm! mosquito! Hordes of them are ringing in your ears and chewing incessantly. Not to mention the devastating health effects caused by malaria, Zika virus, West Nile virus and the other pathogens they can spread.

We usually see mosquitoes as vampires that only make our lives miserable. They don’t actually sting. Luckily, it’s only females that seek our blood to feed their eggs. However, mosquitoes have important ecological functions that are overlooked in our ecosystems. It revolves around interactions with plants and wildlife. There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes, many of which do not bite humans or other animals.

Mosquitoes are important pollinators and food for wildlife. Pollination is performed while consuming the sugar and nutrients of the nectar of the plant. At high altitudes and in the Arctic, plants benefit from large swarms of nectar-hungry mosquitoes for pollination during the short growing season.

Mosquito pollination is much more common than we think. Mosquitoes usually visit flowers near or after sunset and are difficult to see as human presence disturbs mosquitoes from nearby flowers. As such, nutrient cycling by mosquitoes for plant growth and other ecosystem functions remains unexplored.

And mosquitoes are important in the natural food chain. Mosquito larvae consume microbes such as algae and microbes that decompose decaying plant material. Juvenile minnows and adults devour writhing larvae. Birds, bats, frogs, and other insects then eat the remaining flying adult mosquitoes. The eaten and excreted mosquitoes decompose, converting the microorganisms they consume into nutrients for plants, completing another important ecological function.

Mosquito larvae survive in freshwater habitats from temporary snowmelt ponds to ponds and lakes. It survives wherever water gathers, including bird baths, discarded cans, bottles, tires, and even inside pitcher plants and between the leaves of rainforest plants.

Indiscriminate mass extermination of mosquitoes affects everything from pollination to natural food webs. In a world where ecosystems are collapsing and pollinator populations are declining, we need all the help we can get. This includes acknowledging the secret life of mosquitoes and more sophisticated mosquito control strategies that protect their ecosystem functions.

Therefore, we should avoid mosquitoes in mosquito-infested areas by wearing loose-fitting clothing, using non-toxic repellents, and avoiding scented soaps and shampoos. You can also help by taking personal responsibility for overwatering your lawn, sifting out rain barrels, and cleaning up and disposing of trash and junk that collects water around your home or recreational area. Please do not

does this make you happy? Can you help me with the mosquitoes?

Roseanne Van Ee enthusiastically shares her knowledge of the outdoors to help readers experience and enjoy nature. Follow her on her Facebook.

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Okanagan Nature Nuts: What Does Mosquitoes Do?

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