We examined the ion composition of mosquito breeding sites located in the Amazon rain forest and the ion regulatory patterns of larvae from these habitats. We found larvae of Toxorhynchites haemorroidalis, Limatus durhamii, Culex (Carrollia) bonnei, and Culex (Culex) sp. residing in fallen palm bracts, leaves, and tree holes that were filled with water. These breeding sites had micromolar levels of Na(+) (1.6-99 micromol L(-1)), but K(+) and Cl(-) concentrations were higher and varied over a large range (231-17,615 micromol L(-1) K(+); 355-2,700 micromol L(-1) Cl(-)). Despite the variability in environmental ion levels and ratios, all four species maintain high hemolymph NaCl levels (80-120 mmol L(-1) Na(+); 60-80 mmol L(-1) Cl(-)). However, the species differed in the means by which they maintain hemolymph ion balance, as indicated by the range of unidirectional Na(+) and Cl(-) uptake rates. Toxorhynchites haemorroidalis had extremely low rates of Na(+) uptake and undetectable Cl(-) uptake, whereas L. durhamii had high rates of uptake for both ions. This variability in rates of uptake may reflect species differences in rates of diffusive ion loss (i.e., permeability). We observed the same curious pattern of Na(+) inhibition and Cl(-) stimulation by low-pH exposure in all four species of mosquitoes, as has been documented in other mosquitoes and aquatic insects. Kinetic analyses of Na(+) and Cl(-) uptake in C. bonnei larvae revealed an unusual pattern of Na(+) uptake that increases linearly (nonsaturable) to extremely high rates, while Cl(-) uptake is a low-affinity, low-capacity system. This pattern contrasts with L. durhamii and Culex (Culex) sp. larvae, which had large increases in both Na(+) and Cl(-) uptake when external NaCl levels were increased. Our results suggest that although these rain forest mosquito larvae are residing in habitats with similar low Na(+), high Cl(-) composition and maintain similar hemolymph NaCl levels, the underlying mechanisms of ion regulation differ among the species.