Mosquitoes are almost always considered a peril. This species of insect has the infamy of killing more than half the people that ever existed on this plane. They spread diseases like Dengue, Malaria, Zika, Encephalitis and several other life threatening diseases. Despite our best efforts, it has proved futile to eradicate these minuscule pests from our lives.
Not all mosquitoes are, however, bad. According to specialists, Toxorhynchites splendens, also known as “Elephant Mosquito”, might actually come handy in controlling the bad mosquitoes spreading diseases. There are almost 92 subspecies contained in the Toxorhynchites species and the Toxorhynchites splendens is one that does not bite humans. It prefers to get its nutrients from dew drops, nectar, leaves, plants and fruits. These can grow up to 40 mm in size, hence called elephant mosquito.
But their uniqueness lies elsewhere. The Toxorhynchites splendens larvae takes 20-25 days to grow up, as compared to 5-6 days for other species of mosquitoes. And during these 20-25 days, the Toxorhynchites splendens larvae eat the larvae of other mosquitoes for nutrition! So much show, one Toxorhynchites splendens larva can munch on 40 to 45 larvae of other mosquitoes in a day. The Toxorhynchites splendens larvae are much bigger than other larva so they can keep consuming unhindered. Hence careful breeding of this species might actually help control or eradicate the growth of other harmful specie of mosquitoes. Another species Toxorhynchites rutilus has also shown the same capabilities under laboratory conditions.
One significant challenge lies in the fact that Toxorhynchites splendens almost always grows in the country side, jungles and villages. They do not breed in the cities and it is difficult to breed them artificially. But there is a ray of hope. Recently in Calcutta, Toxorhynchites splendens larvae were found growing in a tree-hole. Perhaps making the cities a bit greener will help is cultivate this friendly mosquito and finally triumph over the mosquito-borne diseases for good.
Toxorhynchites rutilus larvae eating other larvae: