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Microplastics stick around in mozzies' bodies

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UK researchers have shown for the first time that microplastics in the environment can be eaten by mosquito larvae and transferred to the adult stage. They say this could represent another way of microplastics travelling through the environment, as the animals and insects that feed on mosquitoes could be contaminated by microplastics.

Journal/conference: Biology Letters

Organisation/s: University of Reading, UK

Funder: A.C. is funded by the University of Reading. R.A.-J. is self-funded and R.N.C. is funded through the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland.

Media Release

From: The Royal Society

Up and away: ontogenic transference as a pathway for aerial dispersal of microplastics

Microplastics (MPs) are pollutants found in rivers, lakes and the sea, where they are eaten directly by animals and secondarily by predators. Here, using Culex mosquitoes, we show for the first time that MPs can be eaten by mosquito larvae which transfer them into a non-feeding (pupa) life stage and subsequently into the flying adult. The transfer of MPs to the adults represents a potential aerial pathway to contamination of new environments. Thus, birds, bats and dragonflies etc that feed on the flying life stages of freshwater insects such as mosquitoes can be contaminated by MPs from aquatic ecosystems.

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