How hot can mosquito larvae survive?

Is it cruel to find out? I hope not. I profited from the ultra-hot sunny weather to bring a pail of organic-laden water with larvae happily snapping around, onto my back patio in full sun. I then ladled some water with larvae into a plate with about 3/8″ of water. You see both in the photo:

Within 25 minutes, all larvae in the plate at 115F had expired. Within an hour and a half, almost all those in the pail had kicked the bucket, at 100F surface temperature. (Larvae have to spend much of their time at the surface to breathe, though they dive if provoked.)

At the right of the photo you see the screen that after the experiment I put over the bucket, to be sure no adult mosquitoes can emerge, but I think by tomorrow any surviving larvae probably will be done for too.

This little exercise has practical value: we can conclude that in weather like this, larvae will not survive in a shallow pool on a flat roof (similar to the plate) and that even in deeper water exposed to the sun as in a roofline gutter, they have little chance.

Of course, we shouldn’t take it for granted and, bearing in mind that 100F is not normal here, we should keep flat roofs and gutters free of stagnant water!

Next afternoon update: there are in fact a few survivors, despite similar air (95) and water (100+) temps. Survival of the fittest, I guess. Those I spotted are on the small side; maybe the closer they are to pupating, the less resistant to heat?

Last observation: Air this hot deters mosquitoes on the wing. We know they like shade; maybe they shrivel up in sun over 90 degrees? Too bad that sunny and 95 are not great conditions for humans to be out in the garden either!

Dragonflies eat mosquitoes

Larvae eat larvae, adults eat adults. Yes, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.

Dragonflies and mosquitoes both live as adults for only a couple of weeks. But dragonflies spend several months or even years in the larval phase and mosquitoes only several days.

If you kill off the adults of both species, which will bounce back faster?

Mosquitoes, obviously, because their eggs, larvae, and pupae will all become adults in a few days, while those phases of dragonflies are still stuck in the water.

So an indiscriminate pesticide helps mosquitoes by knocking out a slower-breeding predator!

For a 50-minute video on the life and history of the drangonfly, see YouTube. Still from that video showing dragonfly larva about to munch into a mosquito larva:

A serious case

If you have anything like this on your property, it’s time for immediate action! This photo shows about 100 mosquito larvae. The corresponding video shows them happily snapping their way (that’s how they move) around the shallow water rich in organic organic matter, their ideal habitat.

The good news is that an application of several tablets of the non-toxic larvicide Bti in a surface area of about 100 square feet virtually wiped out the larvae within 2 days.

With a bit of practice, it becomes easy to detect larvae in standing water. Sunlight helps show them, or a good flashlight. They are easily visible, about 3/8″ long, and a slight disruption of the water encourages them to zip around looking for shelter.

The importance of larviciding … including out of sight

In the 4-part mosquito life cycle*, the most vulnerable stage is the larva. Eggs are designed to survive, pupae don’t need to eat and their chief enemy would be rough water preventing them from breathing, and adults are elusive fliers and many survive even the most determined application of toxic chemicals.

But larvae depend on feeding on organic matter in unclean standing water. If they get too hot or cold, don’t find enough food, or can’t breathe regularly at the surface of calm water, they will develop into adults either slowly or not at all. Continue reading