Microplastic pollution can be spread by mosquitoes

“There is little doubt that plastic and microplastic pollution is a major environmental concern globally.”  Mosquito larvae, living in ponds and puddles, tend to eat everything in sight (that is small enough for them to ingest) and that includes miniscule pieces of plastic that are present in their environment.

Not only do the larvae ingest the plastic, but a recent study found that “microplastics can linger in an insect’s body even as it shifts from its larval to adult life stage.”  Plus, the smaller the plastic particles, the more likely they were to be ingested by the mosquitoes.

The implication of these findings?  Microplastics eaten by mosquito larvae stay with the mosquito as it matures and leaves the water.  Predators on land that eat mosquitoes–birds, bats, and dragonflies–then ingest the plastic when they eat the mosquito.

It’s already known that microplastics “can be toxic to many underwater animals“; this transport of microplastics “may pose a threat to insect-eating species on land as well.”

Read the article (Erica Tennenhouse, Science, September 18, 2018).

For more information about the environmental effects of plastic waste, search the Science Primary Literature Database and the Headline Science Database.

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