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Are ponds breeding grounds for mosquitoes  RSS feed

 
Posts: 32
Location: Italy
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One of my next projects is to introduce a large pond on to our site, in between the vegetable garden and our food forest. I just need to convince my girlfriend that this will not be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
We live in a mediterranean climate 400 meters above sea level in Tuscany, Italy. If this is the case is there anything that can be done to prevent this or has anybody here had mosquito problems with there ponds?

If this problem is not resolved my girlfriend has told me she will not allow me to have a pond,resulting in a very unhappy me,a less productive garden and a strain on our relationship. Please help....






http://permaital.blogspot.it/
 
Posts: 171
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The question would be how big a pond. If it's big enough for fish (even just a few) they will eat all the mosquito larvae. Mosquitos also need stagnant water so if there is a way to keep it moving (waterfall or fountain) you will have no problems. Italians love their fountains but this will also cause a good deal of evaporation. Just a few things to think about. Personally I love ponds, but we've never had malaria where I am either.
 
Posts: 6795
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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We have done nothing to an existing pond on our land but walk by it frequently...there are deer and racoon tracks and turtle slides and a healthy frog population. It is not spring fed...just runoff and really more like a giant puddle ...last summer was the first in twelve years that it dried up completely. I think that our healthy dragon fly and bat population (and the frogs) keep the mosquito larva and adults managed. This pond is probably thirty years old and we have only been here the last dozen, so I don't know how long it would take to naturally achieve a balance.
 
alex jackson
Posts: 32
Location: Italy
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Thanks Kota for the reply, The pond would be big enough to house fish but it was'nt something i was planning on doing but could be a solution.The waterfall fountain thing although very pretty is just going to complicate things so not a road i want to go down just yet.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6795
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I wanted to add to my post above that we don't have fish in our pond and there is a reed of some sort growing around the edges. The pond has a very silty bottom and at the deepest it is probably only four feet.
 
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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You could stock it with any number of fish that would eat mosquitoes. My favorite were always betta fish, who will keep eating mosquito larvae until they grow quite large and with both them and guppies the colors get very vivid when they are allowed to live outdoors and eat real food. You can also buy live bait fish and put them in the pond, usually they are minnows that will do a nice job of eating any mosquito larvae. Feeder goldfish will eat the mosquito larvae, and rosy reds, sold as feeder fish are actually just pigment-deficient minnows, also good for mosquito control. Dragonflies will appear usually the first season and both the larvae and the adults are voracious predators of mosquitoes and their larvae.

Mosquitoes breed best in stagnant water with lots of rotting organic matter in it. I used to raise them on purpose when I was breeding tropical fish to use the larvae as food (you dump them and start over when they're about to mature into adults).
 
pollinator
Posts: 3738
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Even if you don't stock it with fish, other water loving life will move in to keep the mosquitoes in check.
 
Posts: 70
Location: Kent, South-east England, UK
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Hi Alex

We have a lot of water on our land (in the UK) - just to warn that if you do use fish to prevent mosquitos, they will predate the eggs of any amphibians who are chancing it in your pond. We have one pond with no fish, full of lovely newts and frogs, but our main big garden pond has no amphibians and loads and loads of goldfish.

Instead of a fountain, what about an aerator? We have had to put one in our big garden pond in order to keep alive some big koi carp which we had to take on when my bro-in-law moved house. An aerator just makes bubbles from below instead of causing a fountain, so evaporation shouldn't be such a problem. Something like this: http://www.solar-eco.co.uk/categories/Solar-Pond-Aeration/ (just googled this, it's not the one we have but very like). They do make a bit of a buzzing noise but we don't keep it on all the time.

Cheers.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1485
Location: northern California
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I have found that a healthy pond, with a full ecosystem in it of plants, fish, amphibians, and insects, is a good method of CONTROL for mosquitoes rather than the opposite. Most mosquitoes breed in water that is ephemeral....it dries up after a few weeks or months, so that mosquito predators (fish, frogs, dragonflies, etc.) can't breed and get ahead of them. But a lush garden pond with permanent water will breed massive numbers of frogs, toads, and dragonflies which will then disperse into the wider landscape and control adult mosquitoes coming in from other sources. The pond will also act as a trap for mosquitoes, encouraging them to lay eggs there most of which will be food for the other things.
In my experience, in a humid climate (like Georgia) the biggest problem with mosquitoes is human trash....containers, tires, bunches of plastic, etc. pooling rainwater and breeding them. If there's a bad mosquito problem it's usually from this breeding happening within a hundred yards or so. In a Mediterranean climate (like CA), there's more natural ephemeral water in the wider landscape....creeks that break up into pools before drying up, etc. But the permanent garden pond helps with both.
 
alex jackson
Posts: 32
Location: Italy
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Thanks all for your input, great help, keeping it healthy with lots of plant and animal life seems to be the solution then. Fish by the sounds of your comments would be a sure fire solution but not totally necessary as long as there is a lot of other life in there. Great help, there is light at the end of the tunnel with this one. I will have more questions on ponds soon i am sure.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1485
Location: northern California
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There is in America a small fish called mosquitofish which doesn't get over a few cm. long, and so wouldn't be much of a threat to amphibians; and which is popular for mosquito control....they can survive and breed even in a barrel. A few of these or a similar-sized species that doesn't get large would be very worthwhile. The amphibians and dragonflies are probably more predators of adult mosquitoes, while the minnows clean up the larvae.
 
Posts: 1113
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Agreed, fish and fowl take care of the insect problem very nicely. In addition to the ducks we have hundreds of chickens out in our pastures because they are such a good organic pest control. This makes it so we don't have a problem with mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies, etc around our farm even with 400 pigs on pasture and a big marsh on the other side of the road from us. The few times we've not had the birds the flies were nasty - most coming up from the marsh. Dragonflies, bats and wild birds like swallows and killdeer help too.
 
Posts: 40
Location: Colorado @ 7000 feet. zone negative 87b
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Sounds like you need a new girlfriend...
 
Posts: 81
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The most consistent key whether a pond is a breeding ground is water flow. Our pond is fairly good sized but has two spill ways. It is only four or five feet deep and out flow in the summer is a trickle. Never any mosquitoes. The stock tank for the garden, well, that's a different story.....
 
Author
Posts: 7
Location: vermont
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I am brand new to this site/forum so please excuse the early toe in the water shot at a response to the mosquito question... I'm way more
at home in the field than on a computer... but that said... here are a couple of ideas... mosquito larva hang onto shore edge waterline vegetation, so if you remove same
you reduce their "nesting" sites... dragonflies eat mosquitoes, so if you can encourage them, do..... the deeper the edges the better, in general, to
discourage plants and warming water.... and if you can generate some wave action with say a splash aerator, that can help knock the larva for a loop...
I may have more on this as I get familiar with how this forum operates... (I do like the "get a new girlfriend" response...)... also in Vermont, a whole
bunch of cattails will probably be more friendly to mosquitos than not... in general, deep cool water, and lots of predators (insect eating birds, bats,
fish) help...
 
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I live in the desert and have a population of Gambusia fish that only get to a couple of inches long and control the mosquitos nicely. We also have dragonflys, wasps, and other insects that are always around the pond. I don't know how it is there but I would guess it's pretty warm and humid (depending on where in Italy). Running water that breaks up the surface might be the easiest method. Good luck. I don't think you'll regret having a pond, it can be a very serene place to relax.
 
Posts: 42
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Great question, I love natural swimming holes and have also wondered about moquito larvae, great insights Tim! thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1132
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
58
kids trees urban
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We have a pond, and lots of frogs, and it is stream-fed and outflows...and we have lots of mosquitoes.  Maybe not huge amounts but enough it's a pain.

We also have swampy land up above the pond--the "upper stream"--and the mosquitoes probably do their thing there.  It's probably not wet enough for frogs to stay consistently...so the mosquitoes get ahead.

Any ideas for attracting more dragonfly, frog, or bat action up by our lodge house and outdoor kitchen by the swamp would be much appreciated...and yes, smarter site design would have been a good idea, in hindsight.  But that was before any of us really knew about permaculture at all.

I'm realizing the worst mosquitoes have been during rituals down by the creek, on the drive, way up on the hill...but I don't recall being eaten much near the swamp...now I'll pay more attention and observe better.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1132
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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kids trees urban
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Oh shit, I got on the subway and there are mosquitoes!!! I manifested them!! Aaaaaag

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:We have a pond, and lots of frogs, and it is stream-fed and outflows...and we have lots of mosquitoes.  Maybe not huge amounts but enough it's a pain.

We also have swampy land up above the pond--the "upper stream"--and the mosquitoes probably do their thing there.  It's probably not wet enough for frogs to stay consistently...so the mosquitoes get ahead.

Any ideas for attracting more dragonfly, frog, or bat action up by our lodge house and outdoor kitchen by the swamp would be much appreciated...and yes, smarter site design would have been a good idea, in hindsight.  But that was before any of us really knew about permaculture at all.

I'm realizing the worst mosquitoes have been during rituals down by the creek, on the drive, way up on the hill...but I don't recall being eaten much near the swamp...now I'll pay more attention and observe better.

 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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forest garden urban
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http://www.batcon.org/resources/getting-involved/bat-houses

There's a lot of resources online about attracting bats to your site. Mind you, we're a bit batty about our bats here in central Texas, but I've sat on a fishing pier all night long and not been bothered by any insects as I watched a continual flight of bats swoop around me. The link above is to one of the few who isn't trying to convince you to buy their product. I believe they do have product recommendations (In fact they have an entire certification program) but they also have solid information on how to build bat houses as well as where to place them.

As I remember it, it's best if you have tall dead trees (snags) to mount bat houses on, but very high walls or even tall posts can work in a pinch. Best of all would be if you were able to mount the houses somewhere you could gather falling guano to reuse on your plants. There used to be (and probably still is) an robust international trade in guano gathered from cave floors where there are huge colonies of bats.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1132
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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kids trees urban
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Thanks, Casie!  "I'm Batman."
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 1132
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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kids trees urban
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 --Japanese water garden, big carp splashing while mating.

Can't these fish aerate their own damn water?  Look at the splash they make!  

I wonder who else might make a splash.  And if it would be enough to make a significant impact.

 
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