Turn your pond or pot saucer into a mosquito trap!

Did you know Australia has more than 300 unique Mosquito species? Fortunately out of these 300+ Australian species only 30 or so are problematic for enjoying the great outdoors.  

Breaking it down, many of the 30 problem species have thrived in correlation with human urban areas. Our polluted & nutrified runoff kills would be aquatic predators (native fish, frogs, aquatic carnivorous plants). Our land clearing destroys the homes of aerial nocturnal predators like Micro bats (who can eat up to 100 adult mosquitoes or more per night!). The extensive use of easy to get pesticides has also had its toll on beneficial predatory insects and spiders.  

As part of rectifying the issues we have inadvertently created, adding a pond to the garden will not only create interest and habitat for wildlife, but can become a mosquito trap! If the pond is too small for native fish the next best option may be Utricularia or better known as Bladderworts.

Uticularia australis with captured mosquito larvae.

 

Utricularia are unusual highly evolved plants that have taken survival to the next level. In order to thrive in some of our naturally low nutrient waterways many have evolved to float without the need of roots and seemingly lure, capture, devour unsuspecting aquatic prey. Prey items range from microscopic organisms to sometimes prey as large as hatchling fish depending on the Utricularia species. The plants trap their prey with a balloon or bladder-like appendage that literally sucks in the prey if triggered.

More often than not the prey captured is often larger than the trap, it can be a gruesome fate for larger prey especially mosquito larvae where the plant once it consumes the part of the mosquito larvae it captured it releases the animal for it only to trigger the trap yet again sucking in a new part of its body! Often repeating the process until it reaches a body part that cannot fit in the trap! 

Once all the larger prey items have been captured Utricularia seems to target what remains that being naturally occurring aquatic microbes, at least until the next mosquito lays her eggs on the surface of their pond. We have even tested water with Utricularia present and unbelievably it's difficult so see aquatic microbes in the container full of the Utricularia. They can be hungry plants indeed. 

There are a few Utricularia species to choose from in order to convert your pond into a mosquito trap.

Utricularia australis

Utricularia australis is one of the species capable of capturing large prey including mosquito larvae about to undergo metamorphosis into adult mosquitoes. They enjoy ponds even in the company of native fish. During the Winter months they go dormant and form rice sized or larger turions. 

Utricularia aurea

For ponds in warmer locations Utricularia aurea does well and probably traps similar prey to U.australis. The plants overall are much larger than U.australis. Best kept warm year round. 

Utricularia gibba

 

One of the best starter species in the realm of Utricularia. Utricularia gibba enjoys a variety of habitats from a mug on the windowsill to a potted plants saucer of water. They do very well on the edges of ponds and aquariums. The bladders are tiny so it will mainly target the hatchling mosquito larvae, yet with hundreds if not thousands of traps on a net like structure of strands the mosquito larvae hatchlings likely wont get a chance to undergo metamorphosis!

So there you have it, the above species mentioned would no doubt create interest around your pond as well as becoming a deterrent to mosquito population growth. Why not use these plants and native fish as a way to naturally bring back some balance in your urban environment? 

If interested in this approach feel free to skim through our Carnivorous plant section where we may have them available.