Bird-Friendly Communities

Mosquitoes Don't Suck

Birds and plants depend on these insects

Mosquitoes are an important food source for birds like swallows and nightjars, as well as for mammals such as bats, and even fish. There are other connections beyond being food.

In the past three years, Alaska has been in a significant drought. The glaciers are retreating rapidly and the tundra is on fire. This drought has created a shortage of mosquitoes that need water for reproduction. You may think this is great, but understand the reason why it is not so great from the standpoint of birds and other wildlife.

A drought-caused decline of mosquitoes and other insects impacts everything from birds to bears. Female mosquitoes are the ones that bite and need blood for egg development. But both male and female mosquitos feed on plant nectar and thus act as pollinators. When mosquito populations are down during dry years, berry and fruit production are down too. This impacts the food sources needed by wildlife. Wildlife depending on fruits and berries do not have adequate food and fat reserves going into the winter so they have to forage over greater areas to survive. This leads to more reproductive failures and fewer young produced.

I know that most will not be cheering on the mosquitoes. At least remember that they are important to birds, other wildlife, plant pollination, and plant reproduction. They play a role in sustaining wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Posted with permission from Jerry W. Davis, Certified Wildlife Biologist, Hot Springs, AR.

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