Mosquitoes are eating plastic and spreading it to new food chains

Read the full story in New Scientist.

Mosquito larvae that grow up in water contaminated with plastic accumulate the litter in their bodies – and some of it remains there even after the larvae emerge as adult flies. The mosquitoes may exacerbate the problem of plastic contamination when they are eaten by animals living on land.

Plastic pollution is ubiquitous in the environment, particularly in water. Birds, fish and other animals living around aquatic systems can ingest small plastic pieces by accident. These microplastics, with a diameter under 5 millimetres, pose a huge threat to the health of marine and freshwater ecosystems as they enter the food web.

But their impact may be spread by animals with a lifecycle that involves living both in water and on land. Many insects, such as mosquitoes and dragonflies, spend their juvenile stages in water but move to land once they become adults. Amanda Callaghan at the University of Reading, UK, and her colleagues suspected these organisms could be vehicles that transport plastics into uncontaminated environments.

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