Ponds or water bodies often become breeding grounds for pesky mosquitoes. They are a nuisance for sure, but another aspect to remember is that they also spread various diseases including dengue and malaria. These mosquitoes lay eggs that eventually hatch and evolve into larvae, then become fully grown mosquitoes at last. Now comes the question of how to control these mosquito populations.There are both natural and artificial solutions available, however , natural methods are much more preferable due to their less harmful side effects compared to artificial techniques. One of the simple ways is to introduce a healthy population of fishes.Some of the popular choices include bluegill, bass, mosquitofish or minnows. These fishes eat mosquito larvae in order to support their own growth and development. Keep reading this article to find out more about the mechanism, interesting facts and prospects of using bluegill to reduce mosquito population in your nearby still water bodies.
We already stated that bluegills eat mosquito larvae. Let’s know this fish a bit better first before diving into the details of mosquito control. The scientific name of this bluegill fish is Lepomis macrochirus. It is a species of sunfish and is native to North America. It is a common freshwater species and has characteristic blue-green marks on cheeks and operculum. These fishes are very prevalent in ponds, lakes and slowly meandering rivers. Anglers love this fish due to its aggressive tendency upon biting on bait.
Diet of Bluegill
Are you wondering if all bluegills ever eat are mosquitoes? Well, the answer is no. Bluegills
are omnivorous, which means they feed on a wide range of food. Their diet includes aquatic insects, crustaceans, zooplankton, small fish, and plant materials. Their preferable foods are aquatic insects and crustaceans. However, their diet often relies on availability of food in their place of residence.
Bluegills and Mosquito larvae
We will address the main question now: Do bluegill eat mosquito larvae? The answer is yes, but it is not their favorite or preferable food choice. When these fishes come across a population of larvae, they tend to grab the golden opportunity to feast upon them. Otherwise, they usually go with aquatic insects in most cases. Therefore, it is evident that the tendency of bluegills to eat mosquito larvae depends upon their chance encounter. Bluegill’s feeding behavior also heavily relies on several other factors such as water temperature, availability of prey, and competition with other fishes.
If we are to describe the relationship between mosquito larvae and bluegills, the term best suitable for this would be: a predator-prey relationship. In the larval stage, mosquitoes tend to stay in stagnant water bodies. This makes them vulnerable to predators like bluegills and other fishes. When bluegills eat mosquito larvae, they are deprived of the opportunity of developing into a fully-grown mosquitoes. This relationship helps to reduce the spread of disease and to maintain an overall healthy balance between the mosquito population and the aquatic ecosystem.
Bluegills in mosquito control
Bluegills can contribute to reducing the mosquito population to a certain extent. However, they’re not a reliable method for this purpose. Introducing bluegill populations can have ecological consequences. They can alter the food web and threaten native species. The feeding habits of bluegills determine the distribution of prey species in the ecosystem. Mosquito larvae aren’t regarded as food for bluegills only. Other species feeding on mosquito larvae can also be affected by the predator-prey relationship between mosquito larvae and bluegills. In the end,this interrelationship greatly influences the trophic cascade of aquatic ecosystems.
If you plan to use bluegills in your pond to reduce mosquitoes, consider the ecological impacts first. Since bluegills are non -native fishes, introducing them might lead to unwanted effects, even though your intentions are good. There’s a high possibility that bluegills will act as invasive species. They might compete with native species, creating ecological imbalance. As we can already see how human activities are destroying the environment around us, the water bodies aren’t an exception as well. Agricultural and storm runoffs, human activities such as overfishing, waste dumping and water pollution can affect the health conditions and number of both mosquito larvae and bluegills. If overfishing leads to a decline of bluegills, the population of mosquito larvae will continue to thrive. Conservation methods are required to take advantage of this relationship so that bluegill habitats remain protected.
Is introducing bluegills only enough?
For managing mosquito population efficiently, you’d have to opt for an integrated approach. Simply using bluegills won’t do. You’d have to stop development of potential breeding grounds and eliminate the ones already exist. Try using larvicides and natural predators to reduce larvae. In sum, bluegills are effective but it is not wise to rely solely on them.
Another important aspect is that mosquito fishes are widely used to control mosquitoes as well, as the name suggests. Bluegills can be used as a great alternative to mosquito fishes as a part of an integrated approach.
To fight against mosquitoes and mosquito borne diseases, using bluegills is a natural and effective approach. However, we are here to remind you again that it isn’t a foolproof technique. You’d need an integrated approach, simply introducing of this fish species won’t have any significant impacts. Rather, you might experience unwanted ecological effects.
For sustainable and best results, try using some other approaches combinedly with bluegills. Whatever you do, make sure not to disrupt the natural balance of the aquatic ecosystem in any way.