Bromeliad-Inhabiting Mosquitoes | Bromeliad Phytotelmata | Bromeliad Biota


Among the native and imported bromeliads ("air plants") common in southern Florida are tank bromeliads which catch and hold water in little pools (tanks) in their leaf axils. Many different tank bromeliads are grown as ornamental plants.

Mosquito larvae grow in the bromeliad tanks. Almost all of them are Wyeomyia mosquito larvae, but sometimes others are found, especially when grass clippings get into the bromeliad tanks and foul the water. A recent arrival from Asia is Aedes albopictus, known as the "forest day mosquito" and "Asian tiger mosquito." The Wyeomyia mosquito larvae, which occur only in bromeliad tanks, may help to exclude the Aedes albopictus larvae, which are not specialized to this habitat.

The mosquito larvae do not harm the bromeliads, but they produce mosquito pupae which, in turn, produce biting adult mosquitoes. Adult Wyeomyia mosquitoes bite during daylight hours and cause a pest problem; they are not controlled by chemicals applied by mosquito control districts. Aedes albopictus is not just a pest, but a potential transmitter of dangerous diseases; it is likely to occur in your yard whether or not you have tank bromeliads.

Reduction of the number of tank bromeliads grown is a practical way of controlling Wyeomyia and other mosquitoes. Because the mosquito larvae feed on organic materials in bromeliad tanks resulting from dead tree leaves which have fallen into the tanks outdoors, then keeping tank bromeliads in glasshouses and shade houses will lessen adult mosquito production from them. Pressure from a garden hose will wash out some mosquito eggs and organic materials in bromeliad tanks.

In general, use of chemical insecticides to kill Wyeomyia and other mosquito larvae is not a reliable strategy. The microbial insecticide Bacillus sphaericus has given promising results in preliminary tests against Wyeomyia mosquito larvae, but not against Aedes albopictus.

Besides the mosquito larvae, various harmless aquatic organisms live in bromeliad tanks. These are poorly known and include undescribed species.

Back           Forward
Page 1

Bromeliad-Inhabiting Mosquitoes
Bromeliad Phytotelmata