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Posts Tagged ‘Culicidae’

…  that’s the remark in the bugguide.net species account about this fellow:

Toxorhynchites rutilus Elephant mosquito nectaring on Solidago Goldenrod

The elegant Elephant Mosquito

This elegant mosquito is actually an Elephant Mosquito (Toxorhynchites rutilus), a species of mosquito native to the eastern US. If the word mosquito conjures up images of swatting at nasty, disease-carrying blood suckers on warm summer evenings, read on, for this is a mosquito of a different ilk.

Gentle giants of the mosquito world

Members of the mosquito genus Toxorhynchites are the largest of the world’s mosquitoes (family Culicidae), with wingspans that can exceed 0.4 inches (12 mm). Unlike most mosquitoes, adult Toxorhynchites don’t take blood meals. Instead, they fill up on protein while they are aquatic larvae—and, lucky for us, they prey upon the larvae of their blood-sucking mosquito relatives. A single Elephant Mosquito larva can down 400 pest mosquito larvae. Elephant Mosquito larvae and their prey are found in water-filled tree holes (they’re also called Treehole Mosquitoes) or human artifacts like tires. Check out this YouTube video by EntoGeek that shows the larvae feeding.

Once they reach adulthood, Elephant Mosquitoes, both males and females, feed only on flower nectar. The male in the above photo was feeding on some goldenrod (Solidago spp) nectar during an afternoon in late summer 2012. You can tell it’s a male from the very feathery antennae that he uses to detect the pheromones of females. The curved appendages on his head are the mouthparts that he uses to feed. Not readily apparent in the photo is the brilliant metallic coloring that Elephant Mosquitoes have.

Effective biocontrol agents

Elephant Mosquitoes have successfully been reared and released to control populations of pest mosquitoes. Although they don’t provide total control, they’re valuable in targeting pest mosquito larvae in tree holes or man-made containers that are difficult to treat with insecticides.

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