With the heavy summer rains and mosquito season ramping up, concerns about this biting fly and its potential associated diseases are in the public domain. One place that certain mosquitoes may use as a breeding area are the water cups located in the rosette of leaves formed by bromeliad plants. But before you run out and yank out all of those beautiful ornamental bromeliads, there are ways to manage this problem with fairly easy techniques.
Bromeliads are plants in the same family as pineapples and Spanish moss. Many ornamental varieties are cultivated by hobbyists and bromeliads are common plants found in many local landscapes. Some grow on trees and some are more terrestrial in nature. A colorful whorl of leaves, accented with brilliant, long-lasting, flower heads, make these shade-tolerant landscape plants favorites among gardeners. In the center of some of these vase-like plants is a cup-like opening that can actually hold small, temporary pools of water. These cups often house minute aquatic life including the larvae of some mosquitoes. This is where you can step in and take control.
First, you can actually flush out each cup with fresh water on a regular basis. This practice will prevent any mosquito larvae from reaching maturity. But perhaps the best way for convenient long-term protection is the use of Bacillus thuringiensis israaelenses (BTI), a microbial product under a variety of brand names that only targets mosquito larvae. This least-toxic product is available at most garden centers as either donut-shaped rings for larger containers of outdoor water such as a water garden, or a granular crumble. Granules of BTI, applied as per label directions, are normally placed in the bromeliad cup with residual control of mosquito larvae for some period of time. As with any pesticide, please read the label as it is the law.
Again, not all types of mosquitoes use bromeliads to host their larvae. Not all bromeliads foster the development of mosquitoes either. Simple techniques as outlined above can suppress and eliminate the concern of container-borne mosquitoes developing in bromeliads. For more information on mosquito control, please contact the Charlotte County Mosquito Control Division at 941.764.4370. For more information on all types of plants, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Don't forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area. Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times - http://charlotte.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/Plant%20Clinics%20Schedule.pdf.
Park Brown, S. (2013) Bromeliads at a Glance. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
Swanson, Y. (2008) Simple precautions prevent bromeliads from becoming mosquito nurseries. Tampa Bay Time. http://www.tampabay.com/features/homeandgarden/simple-precautions-prevent-bromeliads-from-becoming-mosquito-nurseries/483443 .
Frank, J.H. Bromeliad-inhabiting mosquitoes in Florida. Published on WWW at http://BromeliadBiota.ifas.ufl.edu/mosbrom.htm
Bromeliads – Gardening Solutions - The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS. http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/bromeliads.html