Squatters in my purple pitchers

bob123howSeptember 18, 2007

Mosquito larvae have taken residence in the pitchers of my purple pitcher plant.

1. They're fairly well developed, so I assume they've been there for some time as they can't just jump in a pitcher once they've hatched, but they aren't being digested.

2. Neither Miranda nor Ventrata have larvae. Maybe because they make their own fluid, and the PP's use rainwater?

3. When the mosquitos mature will they be able to escape, or will the plant digest them like all the others?

4. Are they hurting the plant?



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There is a species of mosquitoes Wyeomyia haynei is found in the southern pitcher plant, S. purpurea venosa, from Maryland to South Carolina. Another similar species is Wyeomyia smithii grows in the S. purpurea on N. Jersey. Both species uses S. purpurea as a host to breed their larva in it, the larva are immune to the enzymes of the pitcher plants.

The females deposit their eggs directly on the water within the plant or just above the waterline in older pitcher leaves. The larvae live in the liquid of the plant and feed on the carcasses of insects and spiders being digested by the plantÂs enzymes. These mosquitoes are found no where else and is a good example of a species depending solely on a particular host to complete its life cycle to survive. If the pitcher plant goes extinct, so do they.

I wouldnÂt be surprised that you have that particular species of mosquitoes living in your pitcher plant, several generations can grow on a single leaf. Is it a recently purchase plant? Maybe they came in as stow-away. Depending where you got your plant will tell you the species of the mosquitoes.

DonÂt worry the mosquitoes and its larva wonÂt hurt your plant, you on the other hand is whole a different matter if you have your plant growing inside your room.


If you have your plants growing outside, thereÂs no problem at all. I wouldnÂt mind having them as guests living in my plants. It is an interesting species of mosquitoes after all.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 3:01PM
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Thanks, I didn't know that.
I got it in a lowes death cube some time ago, probably 4-5 months. It is outside.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 3:17PM
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Are there other species of mosquito that are capable of living in the pitcher environment? Perhaps some that don't need it per se, but can still survive in it. I'm having a hard time figuring out how a moquito native to the Eastern side of the US made its was down to central Texas. Furthermore since I live in an area of town that is entirely comprised of students living in apartments I don't think there is a very high density of Purple Pitchers within, at the very minimum, a 5 mile radius from my apartment.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 4:38PM
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Hey! Something can be said for college students living in apartments and owning purple pitchers. Mainly, me!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 7:59PM
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This may be slightly off topic, but has anyone used those mosquito dunks with carnivorous plants (ie, in watering trays, in rainwater catchment devices, or even in pitchers of the plants themselves)? I'm wondering if they would harm the plants. My theory is no, since they consist of a bacteria that eats mosquito larvae, but I haven't tried this and am interested to know if anyone's had experience.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 9:01PM
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One thing about the mosquito larvae in Purple Pitcher Plants is that they actually help the plant digest prey by eating the drowned victims and defecating in the pitcher... creating a nitrogen rich solution for the plant. No they do not harm the plant, they live in symbiosis with it. The problem is that these little parasites are in your dorm room.. ready to hatch out in a couple weeks.

The dunks might work in the pitchers, and might actually provide nitrogen from the bacterially broken down larvae too... maybe a win-win to that idea. Might have to test it just on one pitcher for a while to see what happens.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 9:03AM
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I know of a hobbyist who has grown CP's for over 40 years (Bugweed) who uses non-stick spray. Bascially, the mosquito larvae can't breathe.

Another thing you can do is have some sundews and butterworts nearby.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 9:24AM
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I emailed the folks at Sarrecenia NW and they said that more than likely it is wyomia smithii. They said maybe the bug is more prevalent than previously thought, and/or can live in other water collecting plants; to explain how it got here in Austin. Hooray for me for mothering an uncommmon, at least here, breed of mosquito!

MH - they also echoed your point about them pooping everywhere and the plant liking it, and mine are outside, so it isn't a problem indoors for me.

Agent - I think I read somewhere that putting dunks, cut to the appropriate proportion for the size of the container are safe to put in trays. I would be wary about putting them in the pitchers, though.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 7:54PM
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So basically you have no problems, I say leave and let leave. No purpose of trying to kill them and endanger your plants in the process. Besides, the mosquitoes are too tiny to bother anyone and there's no danger of them spreading because they do live exclusively on the leaves of the purple pitcher plants to breed and survive.

Hey, someone in your family, like a kid relative can use them as an example of symbiosis in some science project class.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 2:35AM
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