Tadpoles: Do they really eat mosquito larvae?

Tadpoles are often considered to be important predators of mosquito larvae. Hence, we experimentally investigated the predation potential of three different frog species that are common in central Thailand. Unlike generally assumed the tadpoles in our study did not feed on mosquito larvae at all. In fact tadpoles of most frog species do not feed on mosquito larvae, only few species do. But this does not mean that tadpoles do not play a role in the control of mosquitoes at all. Some of the species we studied have been shown to feed on mosquito eggs (Bowatte et al. 2013) and tadpoles are also known to compete for food with mosquito larvae (Mokany and Shine 2003). Such negative effects were also observed in central Thailand (unpublished), where we observed a strong negative correlation between tadpole abundance and mosquito larvae presence.

You can find the complete results of our tadpole-mosquito predation experiment here.

References

Bowatte, G., P. Perera, G. Senevirathne, S. Meegaskumbura, and M. Meegaskumbura. 2013. Tadpoles as dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) egg predators. Biol. Contr. 67: 469-474.

Mokany, A. and R. Shine. 2003. Competition between tadpoles and mosquito larvae. Oecologia 135: 615–620.

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