Predatory Mosquitoes

Imagine. . . predatory mosquitoes that feed on other mosquito larvae. Just the kind of mosquito you want around your home and patio, in your yard and garden.

Toxorhynchites, while sounding like some long extinct type of dinosaur, is the species name for a non-biting mosquito.

Experiments with using them for a biological mosquito control come from two very important characteristics. First, they do not feed on blood, and second, their larvae are extremely aggressive feeders on the larvae of other species of mosquitoes.

They are also the largest species of mosquito, with some breeds having a wingspan of up to one inch. Instead of the straight, pointed beak, or proboscis, that biting species use to feed, this mosquito has a long beak that curves downward. Both the adult males and females feed on plant nectar. While the females need protein for egg production, just like other species, they apparently get it from the protein they consume in the larval stages.

There are 71 species found around the globe, most of them inhabit tropical forests. In the United States, they are mostly found in the South, but some have been located as far North as New York. They have been used as a successful biological control for mosquitoes in the Caribbean, Japan, South East Asia and the United States.

The adults are very poor flyers and breed in small containers, not in larger ponds or pools. In nature, they will breed in tree holes, or where available, man-made containers like tires, cans, and buckets.

One toxorhynchite larvae can consume up to 400 other mosquito larvae before it reaches the pupae stage.

They generally feed on the larvae of other mosquito species, but will engage in cannibalism if food supplies are limited. And, for some reason, they go on killing binges right before they molt into pupae, and randomly kill lots of other mosquito larvae that they do not eat.

They can over winter in the late larval stage. They are very susceptible to toxic pesticides, and of course, Bti will kill them also. Dragonfly nymphs A successful biological control program using these predatory mosquitoes depends on breeding and release programs. So far, they have not been found to establish themselves quickly in transplanted habitats, so repeated release is necessary. It is possible though, that as more is learned about this species, this flaw can be corrected. This mosquito has not been studied as thoroughly as the biting species, because they have never posed a health threat to humans.

That is changing, now that toxorhynchites is viewed as a potential environmentally safe means of reducing biting mosquito populations with predatory mosquitoes.