The Tiger Mosquito's Effect on Ecosystems

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Mosquitoes generally get bad press. Few people claim to like them, and many more really dislike them: a mosquito bite ranges from being merely irritating to deadly. However, like all creatures they have a role to play in an ecosystem. In the mosquito's case it is both positive and negative. The tiger mosquitoes from eastern Asia are poor fliers, but great travelers. Consequently, this mosquito frequently finds his way to distant lands.

Feeding Habits

The male tiger mosquito is a strict herbivore who only feeds on flower nectar and high-sugar plant juices. The female enjoys a similar diet, but needs to vary her diet with a blood meal so her eggs develop. She prefers mammals, including humans, or birds, although the species is known as an opportunistic feeder who will take what's available. This flexibility allows the tiger mosquito to survive in a wide range of environments. The benefit of the tiger mosquito to the ecosystem is that he helps pollinate flowers when he drinks nectar.

Food Provider

The tiger mosquito also plays an important role in his ecosystem by providing food for other species. Bats and birds are the main consumers of adult mosquitoes, and in some areas of this mosquito's habitat, spiders are known predators. Mosquito larvae provide sustenance for some copipods. These are members of the crustacean family and include shrimp, crabs and lobsters as well as water fleas. Flatworms also eat this mosquito, and it is thought that other mosquito species may control the tiger mosquito population by eating them, too.

Parasites

Animal Diversity Web suggests the tiger mosquito's main role in an ecosystem is that of parasite. The female spreads blood-borne diseases to humans and domestic dogs as well as deer and birds. This problem is increased by the female tiger mosquito's tendency to feed on a wide range of animals, which expands the potential range of diseases she carries. It's a notorious parasitic carrier of roundworm, which causes heartworm in cats and dogs. It's also a known carrier of dengue fever and West Nile fever, and it is the cause of outbreaks of chikungunya fever in Europe.

Mosquito Control

Although scientists agree that mosquitoes don't make many positive contributions to an ecosystem, they are worried that eradicating them totally may not be the best option. One reason for their concern is that science doesn't know enough about the mosquito species yet: another is that the pesticides needed to kill them may harm other species, according to Mosquito Reviews website. The arrival of the tiger mosquito in the United States in 1985 has presented public health problems. It is the source of dengue fever transmission, which it brings from the Caribbean region. It also infects horses with eastern equine encephalitis, which is fatal in 80 to 90 percent of cases.

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    Author

    Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.