Site 19: Mosquito Ditching

A miserable, whining congregation of pests.

Prentice K. Stout - This Place of Quiet Waters


In the past, a series of ditches were dug (by hand) through the salt marsh with the goal of draining water from the higher parts of the marsh to eliminate habitat for mosquitoes to lay their eggs and breed. If you were to look at an aerial view of the marsh today, these ditches are still visible, checker-boarding the entire area. Historically, this practice was used across many salt marshes in Rhode Island witht he hopes of reducing the number of mosquitoes in these areas, many of the ditches dating back to the early 1900s.

Unfortunately, draining of the marsh can often result in the opposite of the desired effect - species of fish that would typically feed upon mosquito larvae lose their standing water habitat and flow out with the tide. The fact that these ditches still remain as scars across the marsh is clear evidence that marsh habitats recover very slowly from disturbance.

Land of Fires - Site 19