Fungus

A fungus that feeds on mosquitoes is one of the most promising new developments in mosquito kill. It has no common name, so we are stuck with the rather cumbersome Latin one: lagernidium giganteum.

And just what is it? This mosquito eater is an aquatic fungus, which grows in fresh water. It will not survive in salt water, but fresh water is where most mosquitoes breed. And, it destroys mosquito larvae. If you want to see this one, though, get out your microscope.

It has been widely tested and has no adverse effects on any other organism except mosquito larvae. So, it is safe for use around pets, wildlife, fish and humans. In fact, it has been registered and approved for use as a pesticide by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1999 for use in rice fields, soybean fields, and ponds. It is not yet commercially available.

It will be useful for application in all kinds of containers such as water drainage systems, tires, buckets, cans, and other small containers that hold water.

It is not strictly parasitic; it can grow on rotting vegetation, or dead insects. In fact, it appears to grow faster when isolated from its host, which is a bonus for commercial production of this new mosquito kill weapon.

It has been found on mosquito larvae in natural water habitats in the Southern United States, England, California, Cuba and Columbia.

One of the challenges of its’ use is that it will go dormant below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 C) and above 89 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C). It will infect most mosquito species and some types of gnats.

Here is how it works. The fungus produces spores, which attach to the mosquito larvae’s body. The spores then inject themselves into the larvae and multiply, causing death in 1-4 days. Then, anywhere between 10-50 more spores are released, which go on to infect new larvae.

Sometimes two spores will fuse and develop a more hard walled body, which can remain dormant, but viable, for up to 7 years in a dry environment. Then, when their habitat is flooded again, the life cycle continues once the water is populated with mosquito larvae again.

Mosquito control has been effected by aerial spraying but the effectiveness of the programs depends on several variables, like the kinds of species and the temperature. The greatest obstacle in commercial production of solutions containing Lagernidium giganteum has been finding the right stage in their life cycle to be able to produce a product that is stable for storage and spraying.

One of the biggest advantages of this fungus is that it will recycle itself. Once introduced into a habitat, it will continue to produce spores for months and years. So once it is available for home use, you can put it into your water garden, birdbath, or other water holding objects and it will continue to grow.

It has been registered under the pesticide name Laginex┬«, but cannot yet be purchased. Let’s hope that it soon will be offered for home use. Right now, the testing has been done for larger areas, like farms and vector control use. Soon perhaps this useful fungus can become part of the home users biological control arsenal, especially for gardeners, bird watchers and homeowners who want to keep any standing water clear of mosquitoes.