Friday, 15 July 2011

What’s wriggling in my pond?

Could it be mosquito larvae? Can you help ID the larvae in the screen photo or video below? They were absolutely tiny and were seen floating and wriggling just under the pond’s surface last night. They also appeared to be almost snorkelling which might suggest they were mosquito larvae.

It was suggested to me by blogger Victoria (Victoria’s Backyard) on twitter last night that if so the species likely to be seen in Scotland would be Culiseta morsitans or Culiseta annulata.




Victoria also added they could be midge larvae if I saw any red ones. I had been looking for that. I could see no red in the larvae. She asked if I had frogs or fish as they could eat them. To that my reply was sadly no.

A non-stop sprinkling of water on the surface of my pond could prevent female mosquitos from laying more eggs in my pond was another helpful suggestion by Victoria. This sprinkling of water could also prevent the hatching larvae to pause on the surface for their wings to dry too. I didn't know they did that.

I never considered that more eggs and larvae could be added to the large number seen in my pond already! However, I have been wondering why bats have been flying quite so close to my window during this last week!

Interesting info from Victoria indeed - especially as my pond pump hasn’t run at all this year. It’s faulty and we haven’t worked out what the problem is yet. A job to move up the list for this weekend then ;-)

Worrying for me (kitchen window nearby) and the guinea pigs in hutch nearby too, some larvae were seen diving as you will see in my video suggesting they all might do this soon. Mm… I slept on the problem ;-)




A quick fishing trip was my short term and immediate response this morning. Should I really have done this before breakfast though… no surprises… the answer is no.

In the absence of frogs and fish to control the high number of larvae in my tiny pond I considered that perhaps ground, insect feeding birds like Dunnocks or Wrens would fancy a tiny bite or two.

With my net I scooped along the surface area of my pond as a start. I left the contents of my net on paving nearby so other pond creatures could crawl back in my pond. I then repeated this deeper in the pond and repeated the whole fishing trip half an hour later… after my breakfast!

The bird 'breakfast buffet' did get a few more ingredients to attract as many birds as possible to it. My mosquito muesli had a sprinkling of sunflower hearts, fine breadcrumbs (so birds would search more) and the secret ingredient… grated cheese (left-overs from last night’s salad). Blackbirds were there instantly running away with cheese :-)

Tonight’s watch will be on the night cam then… for local pipistrelle bats hunting female mosquitos in my tiny pond! I’m not expecting to catch ‘the catch’ but I might see something albeit a bit blurred :-)

For all my fellow garden blogger’s today (being the 15th of the month) is Bloom Day with Carol over at May Dreams Gardens. You’ll get much nicer photos over there as everyone shares what’s flowering in their garden today.

I think to re address the video balance I should video my flowers today. I’ll be back… with pretty pictures later. Meantime, you might like to catch the Open Garden tour in my last post. Enjoy your weekend and Happy GBBD everyone :-)


This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in July 2011.

12 comments:

Randy Emmitt said...

Shirl,
Frogs and dragonflies is what you need in that pond. Liked the video.

VP said...

Hi Shirl - definitely mosquito larvae - the prominent breathing tube gives them away. Gnat larvae tend to be much slimmer in appearance and the 'head' not so well defined.

When they pupate they'll look like commas floating in your pond.

Agree with Randy re dragonfly larvae - they're voracious predators.

Janet said...

I'm so surprised by what you've found in your pond. My reaction is the same as finding maggots in the rabbit hutch (not mine). Yuk! Hope the birds enjoyed the feast!

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

Yes they look like mosquito larvae to me too!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Great photo of those yucky mosquitoes. Yep, it looks like you need a couple of little fishes in your pond to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Shady Gardener said...

You're getting great advice, Shirl. Yep - mosquito larvae. I get them from time-to-time in my birdbath if I'm not diligent. (A drop of bleach has been advised, so I'll be trying it.)

Bridget said...

Have'nt a clue. Love your blog though, just found it through Blotanical

shirl said...

Hello everyone, thanks for your comments. Hope you all had a good weekend :-)

Randy, both would be nice. Maybe we’ll get them when my bigger pond gets built. Thanks, pleased with capture when they were so very tiny. Fascinating to watch although they do make me squirm too :-)

VP,thanks for the ID confirmation. Yep we thought that snorkel tube made it likely. Doubt I’ll see dragonflies for the moment. Maybe next year :-)

Janet, me too!! I had hoped it might be something nice but initial searches pointed in this direction. I was very surprised (as well as disgusted) at the prospect. Woah… I’ll try not to think of the maggots next time I clean out our guinea pigs! Yuck. I’m guessing the birds found them to their liking :-)

Sue, Thanks… being honest… I didn’t relish this ID confirmation at all :-)

Lisa, Thanks, I am in two minds about the images. I’m thinking in view of comments we may just need to consider fish. However, cats already visit this pond as a mouse lives in the caves around it. Don’t really want to net it as wrens will visit/feed at the water edge. However, daughter pointed out she still remembers seeing fish bones on the lawn when she was younger after a cat helped itself. We don’t want that either.

Shady, Yes, I am, it’s great. Thanks for the ID. I never thought of them in a birdbath… as good as a puddle I guess. I’m surprised bleach has been advised for a bird bath although it’s only a drop I guess. Do let me know how it works although volume wise I won’t be trying this in my pond I am interested. Good luck with that. Note to self… clean bird bath tomorrow :-)

Bridget, No worries, I’ve had enough ID’s here and other places I asked to confirm my suspicions. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the fav on Blotanical too :-)

EmJ said...

Hi, I want to thank you for posting the pictures on your blog. You have helped me identify what is living in my water feature. I set up a small 1m diametre pool with a spitting feature about 3 weeks ago. A couple of days ago I noticed the larvae and got excited, they looked so cute...now I'm not so proud! My spitter only runs 4 hours a day as it is powered by a solar pump with battery back up. I have lots of plants in there so I have seen blood worm and other little wriggly things over last two weeks.

I now know fish are the answer but without any filtration and the pump not running 24hrs I don't think they will do very well. I intend to put some substrate into the pool and build up some good bacteria to help me add small fish gradually but this is all going to take a while. I have a goldfish inside, perhaps I should pop him into the pool for half an hour each day for a feast?

I do go on a bit, but in a nutshell; thanks for your help!

EmJ

shirl said...

Hello EmJ, I am thrilled that posting images and asking for confirmation on ID has helped you too. To be honest that was the main reason I posted this solo.

I’m not so happy to hear you have this problem too but knowing there is a possible problem is better than not knowing.

Being completely honest, pre researching an ID, I too was excited thinking some new had grown from my garden… not now of course. I can understand how you felt.

Yes, the solution of adding fish is a tricky one if you have passing cats. I have neighbour’s cats on sentry duty at my pond looking for the little mouse that is living there. They would very quickly spot fish I’m very sure :-(

Please do pop back and tell us how you solve the problem. Guessing you're kidding on the indoors goldfish having a trip outdoors :-)

Lol… nice to hear someone else chatting as much as I do… thanks for popping by :-D

EmJ said...

Hi Shirl,
I didn't take BlackJack outside, I brought the larvae in to him. I popped him in a fish bag with about 40 larvae and he had a feild day. I didn't let him out until he had eaten every last one as I don't want them flying about indoors! It only took him about 5 minutes and he is still alive today so all good.

I'm tempted to put some in my tropical community tan but I'm afraid if they miss any I will come home to a living room full of mozzies some day.

I spent 20mins this evening netting out larvae and putting them on my compost heap. I'm going on the theory they will not survive out of water? Luckily none have got to the next 'comma' stage yet but there are lots of little new ones to keep me and my net occupied for the next couple of days. I think I got the majority of them but they have a nack of hiding around my many plants. Two mosquitos had the cheek to land on the water surface while I was netting their kids.

I work at a fish shop and we have a koi pond outside. I asked the chap who looks after it if he minds if I bring a load of larvae as a treat for the koi. He seems happy enough with the idea. I won't put them in the vats indoors as the last thing we need is mozzies biting our customers. Maybe the manager will lend me a couple of orfe for the weekend!

Will adding salt to the pool make any difference? I have read plenty about oil doing the trick but I want to add small fish the pool eventually. Cats shouldn't be a problem for me as I have a sproker (springer/cocker cross). One made the mistake of coming in the backdoor but he didnt get to stay long, he must have passed on his experience to his friends as I hardly ever see cats now!

Does anyone know what their eggs look like? maybe I could stop them getting to the swimming stage?

Sorry, rabbiting on again!

How's your mozzi catching going?

EmJ

shirl said...

Hello again, EmJ :-)

Sounds like you’ve got a bit of experience here with fish. Funnily enough, I did wonder about taking the larvae to your cold water fish. However, I was wary that maybe that wasn’t a good plan. I have no experience with this problem. Glad your fish has been fine afterwards :-)

I would definitely be wary with your tropical community. The warm tank might speed up growth of the larvae too (a guess). Sounds like you know what you’re doing and your larvae has plenty of places to go.

I couldn’t comment at all about adding salt to the pool and what it would do to the larvae. I have kept the fancy goldfishes some years back and salt added to a tank does help equilibrium in a sick fish with balance issues. What it would do to the larvae and other beneficial life in your pool I wouldn’t know.

Ah… yes dogs can deter cats so you have no need for any other deterrents. I’ve tried many. We get quite a few cats passing through and all take interest in my pond.

Sorry, have no idea what the eggs look like. I really need to empty this pond to get a good look at what’s going on with my pump. Perhaps I might come across some eggs then. At the moment, I can’t get enthusiastic about that job.

We’ve had a lot of rain which is making them harder to see now. I’ll get back out with my net tomorrow and keep trying to make some inroads into the population. Best I can do for now.

Wishing you a good weekend and continued success in getting rid of your population of larvae :-)