Monday, March 31, 2008

Small Allies

Last week was the first extended warm period since the decent rains of last month and the mosquito population went from practically zero to beaucoup skeeters. If you walked out onto the porch near sunset clouds of them would descend on you.

So I did the usual walkabout looking for standing water in pots, animal drinking bowls, etc. The main culprit in this maddening mosquito mating mayhem appeared to be the real pond which was fishless due to being totally dry not long ago.

Also, the new ornamental pond, although small, was supporting an abundant supply of wrigglers in the rainwater it had collected. The plastic pond shell and the 3 pools of the plastic waterfall all held a thriving population of late instar larvae. (The pond project is on hold temporarily during all the fair hubbub and another project of mine, so it's just sitting.)

Future hordes of tiny vampires were simmering all around me.

I needed some allies.

My allies.
So I headed off to Flat Branch, a small creek that crosses under US-19 ... most of the time. A half hour of dipnetting brought up plenty of mosquitofish (Gambusia) and hordes of mostly pregnant freshwater grass shrimp like the little girl below. The mosquito fish get that name because they really love to eat mosquito larvae. It's a joy to behold as they relentlessly gobble the tiny wrigglers ... plus they breed like guppies, which they resemble strongly.

They went into the real pond along with some big tadpoles, crawfish, and shrimp. I also put one mosquito fish into each of the waterfall pools and three went into the main pond shell.

I'm very partial to crustaceans and not just on my plate. They just fascinate me.
So many specialized parts, comical expressions and those eyes!

This gal is carrying precious cargo, a clutch of eggs glued to her pleopods.

The majority of the shrimp that came up in the dipnet were pregnant females so it looks like a good spring for these little beauties.

Which should mean a good year for the bluegills and shellcrackers that love to feast on the shrimp.

Which could mean a fish dinner for me.


threecollie said...

Good post! Cool fish, neat crustaceans, what more could there be?

Doug Taron said...

I really like the shrimp photos. I've mentioned before that I've previously blacklighted along Flat Branch. We got dozens of Belostoma (giant water bugs) at the sheet. Full grown adults probably like bigger prey than mosquito wrigglers. Smaller instars would love them. I'm not sure how I'd feel about having lots of Belostoma in my pond, however. Those guys can give a serious pinch. As we were standing around the sheet with dozens of them landing, one guy was talking about getting nailed on the earlobe. Ouch.

Jacki said...

WOW, I love your shrimp photos! Here's to good fishing this year!

robin andrea said...

Love those photos, fc, especially the one where we can see the eggs. That's just grand. Ah the cycle of life.

pablo said...

Can you really just harvest fish and other beasties out of public waterways like that in Florida?

OldHorsetailSnake said...

The Cracker works the food chain, like a magician.

Thunder Dave said...

Let me know when you get the crayfish farm up and running and I'll bring the beer and the boil! Pretty nice shots of the mother shrimp!

lej619 said...

I got an email yesterday about how to kill masquitoes. thought i would pass it on. I have not tryed it yet but i will soon. they are getting really bad here in O.P.


The best way of getting rid of mosquitoes is Listerine, the original medicinal type. The Dollar Store-type works, too. I was at a deck party awhile back, and the bugs were having a ball biting everyone. A man at the party sprayed the lawn and deck floor with Listerine, and the little demons disappeared.
The next year I filled a 4-ounce spray bottle and used it around my seat whenever I saw mosquitoes. And voila! That worked as well. It worked at a picnic where we sprayed the area around the food table, the children's swing area, and the standing water nearby.
During the summer, I don't leave home without it.....Pass it on.
I tried this on my deck and around all of my doors. It works - in fact, it killed them instantly. I bought my bottle from Target and it cost me $1.89. It really doesn't take much, and it is a big bottle, too; so it is not as expensive to use as the can of spray you buy that doesn't last 30 minutes. So, try this, please. It will last a couple of days. Don't spray directly on a wood door (like your front door), but spray around the frame. Spray around the window f rames, and even inside the dog house if you have one.

Deb said...

Invent a mosquito eater that will survive Minnesota winters, and you will live the good life.

Until then, keep on taking good photos!

Alan said...

Good looking shrimp. I prefer their ocean going cousins - battered and deep fried. :)

Floridacracker said...

Thanks. This is a fish that municipalities stock in standing water to combat mosquitoes in a nonchemical poison way.

I got a shot of giant water bug larvae in the pond last week.I'll post it.
I got bit by one years ago while hand pulling Chara algae from the pond.
Like a hot needle inserted into my hand.

Shrimp are just naturally photogenic!

I thought you would like this little shrimp's ripe belly full of life.

I know it's the midwest, but you are not living in a police state. Go to this link to learn about your own state.

Here, hold a FW fishing license and avoid protected species and it's cool with the game wardens.

I am linked to it.

Have you ever met an animal you didn't want to eat?
Hey your wife was being mean to me.
Teasing me about Chewie.

Fascinating. That's a new one on me.

It always amazes me to think of mosquitoes up north.

Yup, these are a little small.

freste2715 said...

Don't y'all think you're being just a teensy weensy bit too harsh on the poor skeeters? Talk about specialized parts!

Now you just leave them alone and feed them properly.

Thunder Dave said...

Not yet, but I have a feeling they may test my limits over here!

To that point: I thought Lightnin's suggestion was more tasty than cruel! ;-)

Floridacracker said...

I had not considered it from the skeeter's viewpoint.
I have been a poor host.

You two are birds of a feather!

Cathy said...

It occurs to me that you are playing God. No, that's not right. You ARE the pond god - no playing here.

How neat. Really.

thingfish23 said...

Great post, as usual, Fc. And great photos, too - even if they were done with a (dare I say it?)


Oh, what the Hell - Point-N-Shoot.

(tf23 runs for nearest exit)

Floridacracker said...

Pablo is the pond God.

Don't make me come down there young man!

Kimberlee said...

Wow! Those are GREAT photos! Amazing stuff! Mosquitoes are a big problem up here as well and I do find them difficult to appreciate. I learned a while back that mosquitoes actually help pollinate tundra plants. That's something, I guess. But I still don't like 'em much. :)

Floridacracker said...

We can appreciate that but still dislike the little vampires.

genghisprawn said...

The shrimp looks to be some species of Palaemonetes. Have you ever come across the bigger river prawns?