Quantcast

Mosquitoes Could Spread Microplastics, Study Suggests

Animals
Mosquito larvae can mistake tiny bits of plastic for food. fuentedelateja / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Microplastics, which get gobbled up by whales, deep-sea fish and plankton, have also turned up in the bodies of mosquitoes, scientists have revealed.

The research, published Wednesday in the journal Biology Letters, is the first to show that bits of plastic can be transferred between a mosquito's life stages that use different habitats.


For the study, the scientists fed the larvae of Culex pipiens—the common house mosquito—different-sized fluorescent polystyrene beads. The researchers found that the tiny fragments stayed in the larvae's bodies as they matured into flying adults.

Beads that were smaller than 2 micrometers in size transferred "readily" into pupae and adult stages, while larger beads that were 15 micrometers in size transferred at a "significantly reduced" rate, the paper states.

"Larvae are filter feeders that waft little combs towards their mouths, so they can't actually distinguish between a bit of plastic and a bit of food," lead researcher Amanda Callaghan of the University of Reading told The Guardian. "They eat algae, which are more or less the same size as these microplastics."

The study suggests that plastics could enter the larger food chain if birds, bats or other creatures eat the mosquitoes.

"The implication is that you can have plastics at the bottom of the pond that are now going up into the air and being eaten by spiders and bats and animals that normally wouldn't have access to that plastic," Callaghan told The Independent.

"You could have a dragonfly, for example, eating mosquitoes as they are emerging—so it could be eating lots of mosquitoes with plastic in them, and then a bird could be eating that and getting an even bigger dose."

The researchers are now studying if consuming plastics harms the mosquitoes, The Guardian reported.

"It is a shocking reality that plastic is contaminating almost every corner of the environment and its ecosystems," Callaghan added. "Much recent attention has been given to the plastics polluting our oceans, but this research reveals it is also in our skies."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Anita Desikan

The Trump administration is routinely undermining your ability — and mine, and everyone else's in this country — to exercise our democratic rights to provide input on the administration's proposed actions through the public comment process. Public comments are just what they sound like: an opportunity for anyone in the public, both individuals and organizations, to submit a comment on a proposed rule that federal agencies are required by law to read and take into account. Public comments can raise the profile of an issue, can help amplify the voices of affected communities, and can show policymakers whether a proposal has broad support or is wildly unpopular.

Read More Show Less
Alena Gamm / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Katey Davidson, MScFN

Bananas are one of the world's most popular fruits.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Climate Reality Project

Picture this: a world where chocolate is as rare as gold. No more five-dollar bags of candy on Halloween. No more boxes of truffles on Valentine's day. No more roasting s'mores by the campfire. No more hot chocolate on a cold winter's day.

Who wants to live in a world like that?

Read More Show Less
PxHere

By Lisa Wartenberg, MFA, RD, LD

Honey and vinegar have been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for thousands of years, with folk medicine often combining the two as a health tonic (1Trusted Source).

Read More Show Less
Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Paprika is a spice made from the dried peppers of the plant Capsicum annuum.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Water protectors of all persuasions gathered in talking circles at Borderland Ranch in Pe'Sla, the heart of the sacred Black Hills, during the first Sovereign Sisters Gathering. At the center are Cheryl Angel in red and white and on her left, Lyla June. Tracy Barnett

By Tracy L. Barnett

Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.

For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.

Read More Show Less
Hedges, 2019 © Hugh Hayden. All photos courtesy of Lisson Gallery

By Patrick Rogers

"I'm really into trees," said the sculptor Hugh Hayden. "I'm drawn to plants."

Read More Show Less
BruceBlock / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Thanks to their high concentration of powerful plant compounds, foods with a natural purple hue offer a wide array of health benefits.

Read More Show Less