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Sunday, May 20, 2007

 

Pond pests

Okay, I need some help and/or advice. My garden pond, which you may remember I inherited when I moved into my new home and know very little about maintaining, seems to be suddenly crawling with larvae. Also, still, some tadpoles, whom I have nothing against - but it looks like the larvae are winning.

Some of them look unpleasantly like mosquito larvae. Either that or midge larvae, which isn't good either. I'm sincerely in favour of supporting wildlife, but not to the extent of sharing my life's blood with it. Besides, the neighbours have children, and letting creepy-crawlies dive-bomb them from my garden would not be a sociable act.

Some of them - most, in fact - well, I just can't indentify them. They're sort of looped; from a distance they look like tiny, curled-up tadpoles, but they have segmented bodies and tiny antennae, and they can shift pretty quickly, if randomly, when they feel like it.

What are they? Does anyone have any ideas?

More generally, can anybody recommend a good website or adviser? Surely somebody out there knows about ponds. If this gets too bad, I'm going to have to put fish in there to eat the pests, and I'd rather be providing an ecological haven. But I'm not having my garden try to eat me.

Comments:
Mosquito larvae look like tiny fingers flexing in two as they swim.

You really only have two choices, either get something to eat the bugs (fish) or sterilize the pond. Assuming you don't want to sterilize it, I'd go for the fish. If you have some lilies or if they're big tadpoles, you can still have tadpoles and frogs.
 
Another solution would be to install a pump, and have either a waterfall or a fountain. Keeping the water moving deters mosquitoes, which prefer to lay their eggs in standing water. It also aerates your pond :), so if you do decide to have fish, they'll benefit too.
 
S'funny. My roommate all throughout college actually worked every summer as a mosquito sprayer-hunter in his county back in Colorado. I believe his company used a product like this:

http://www.altosid.com/pellets.htm

Kills mosquito larvae without any ecological disasters. I'm not sure if you can get this specific brand over there, but I'm sure there is a company that sells something similar.
 
Hm. Right, I'll see if I can acquire a pump. Meanwhile I'm googling to identify the other little critters, but I might just have to wait until they pupate, and hope they don't pupate into anything horrible...

Thanks for the advice. Anyone know anything else about ponds? Keep it coming!
 
I think the key thing is what buffysquirrel says: keep the water moving. As soon as it stops all sorts nasty things will settle and start growing. Depending on the size of your pond, you really should consider having some sort of fish in there. They're very relaxing and require the minimum of maintenance (no, really, the next time you can, sit at the edge of a pond and just watch the fish for a few minutes - it's very calming).
 
It's too small a pond, I fear. Really, it's tiny, and I couldn't relax watching the fish because I'd be too busy feeling worried about their cramped conditions. It's a shame, really, as I love fish. Eh well.

I'm dead impressed by how much everybody knows about ponds.
 
So perhaps the problem could be solved by a trip to B&Q, a few bags of sand and some topsoil? :-)

By the way, I'm up to SEVEN publisher rejections now! But it doesn't matter because last week my doctor said I could have some Prozac - and jolly nice stuff it is too! :-)
 
Wey hey, seven publisher rejections! Congratulations. Only eight more and you'll be on level pegging with John Grisham's first novel. :-)

Hang in there.
 
Get a few guppies from the feeder section of the pet store; they're cheap and viscious little mosquito killers. Or Rosy Barbs are the best of the barbs for doing this. This is assuming you want an inexpensive fish that you don't have to feed or worry about. Mine always thrive on the larvae and the algae in the pond. Works every year.
 
Get some guppies from the "feeder" tank at the pet store - they work great and will surive the summer on algae and larvae. Rosy barbs work the same but guppie are a little tougher fish. No need to spray or use any kind of chemical.
 
Would they eat the tadpoles and frogspawn, though? I hear that British frogs are fighting a losing battle with habitat loss and need ponds.
 
99% of those other bugs will be harmless. Turn over a rock in any stream and look at all the interesting critters that scurry away. Some of them will be predators of mosquito larvae as nymphs and will continue to consume bugs as adults.

Stirring the water with a pump will also discourage frogs. They like to lay their eggs in fairly stagnant water.
 
The replies to this article have answered my own question. Thanks all!
 
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