Mosquitoes, though they are referred to as nuisance insects for humans, they are actually quite a big nuisance, inflicting itchy, bothersome bites, and overall hampering summer fun for you and your family. And they don't even seem that afraid of humans. As you put in efforts to manage and control mosquitoes, rest assured that there are creatures that give them a hard time, too.
Insects That Eat Mosquitoes
Dragonflies (Anisoptera) and the closely related Damselflies (Zygoptera) are among the first among known insects that prey upon mosquitoes.
Along with other insects such as the Crane fly, dragonflies are often nicknamed "mosquito hawks," though they don't do much themselves to keep mosquito populations down. Dragonflies usually hunt and feed during the day, while nocturnal mosquitoes are typically hiding out in quiet, shady areas. Though dragonflies can prey upon 30 to 100 mosquitoes daily, don't expect them to save your next outdoor cookout from mosquito annoyances.
If that sounds disappointing, there is a silver lining: dragonfly larvae actively feed upon mosquito larvae (living just beneath the surface of the water) when in proximity, meaning that dragonflies do most of their mosquito control work before mosquitoes ever mature to adulthood.
Ants feed on mosquitoes, too. But not just any ants. There is an ant species (Camponotus schmitzi), native to Borneo in Southeast Asia, that can actually swim underneath the water inside the stems of certain cylindrical pitcher plants. These Diving ants are known to feed on mosquitoes and mosquito larvae. Pitcher plants and Diving ants get along well because as the ants get fed, they protect the plants from having their nutrients eaten by the mosquito larvae.
Yes, there are some mosquitoes that actually eat other mosquitoes, like the Elephant mosquito (Toxorhynchites). The larvae of these beneficial pollinators feed readily upon other mosquito larvae, but the adults only feed on flower nectar, and not on fellow adult mosquitoes. They are harmless to humans. Elephant mosquitoes are often confused with Crane flies, that actually are known as "mosquito eaters," though this turns out to be somewhat of a misnomer.
Animals That Eat Mosquitoes
Web-building spiders are known to eat mosquitoes they manage to capture, but have a stronger preference for other insects as food. In sharp contrast, two species of jumping spider (Evarcha culicivora, aka the Vampire spider, from Africa and Paracyrba wanlessi from Malaysia) make their favorite snacks out of mosquitoes. These jumping spiders are masters at hunting and capturing mosquitoes.
Vampire spiders specialize in feeding on female Anopheles mosquitoes that have recently had a blood meal. Paracyrba wanlessi spiders (sometimes compared to a "miniature cats") stalk and prey on larval and adult mosquitoes in Malaysian bamboo forests.
Bird species that feed on mosquito larvae and adults include swallows, geese, terns, ducks, and Purple Martins.
Oddly, Purple Martins are probably the birds best known for eating mosquitoes, though in actuality, mosquitoes are not a significant part of their diet.
Mosquitoes and bats have a well-known relationship. While bats may hunt and catch many different species of nocturnal insects, they have a distinct appetite for mosquitoes. Studies of bat droppings (guano) have revealed that mosquitoes are a big part of their diet.
Plus, bats are expert flying mosquito hunters and trappers. Their built-in echolocation sonar systems make it easy for them to locate and eat mosquitoes.
There are fish that also feed on mosquito larvae (e.g., goldfish, guppies, bass, bluegill, and catfish) to some extent or other.
There is a fish species, Gambusia affini, also nicknamed the "Mosquito fish." This particular fish actually feeds on mosquito larvae to a large extent. These fish are born in schools of several hundred at a time, and one young Mosquito fish alone can eat from half its body weight to over one-and-a-half times its weight in food daily, a significant portion of which turns out to be mosquito larvae.
Other Animals That Eat Mosquitoes
Adult amphibians and tadpoles (particularly the Green Tree frog, and Giant Tree frog, and the Spade Foot toad) are known to feast on mosquitoes and their larvae.
There's also a species of turtle, the Red-eared Slider, that has been used to help control mosquito larvae populations with effective outcomes in some South American countries.
Unfortunately, you probably can't rely on these animals and other insects as a reliable strategy to control mosquito populations significantly.
Do "Mosquito Eaters" Really Eat Mosquitoes?
Though Crane flies are often known as "mosquito eaters" or "mosquito hawks," the truth is, they don't really feed on mosquitoes. These spindly insects, known for awkwardly flying and bumping around your house are more of a nuisance to turf grass in their larval stage than they are to mosquitoes (they can cause bald patches of grass in sufficient numbers).
Fortunately, adult Crane flies don't go after humans or animals, either, but are hardwired for a strictly nectar diet.
So you've got pesky mosquitoes in your yard, garden, and patio that disrupt your cookouts and summer fun.
Try an effective plant oil-based mosquito control product for spot treatment, like Maggie's Farm Home Bug Spray, Maggie's Farm Flying Insect Killer, or Maggie's Farm Mosquito Fogger. Plants hate mosquitoes and other bugs just as much as you do, and the natural oils they produce to protect themselves are amazingly effective at killing and repelling bugs of all sorts.
For longer term, more thorough coverage, you can treat wider areas of your lawn with effective hose-end plant oil-based pest control products like Maggie's Farm Mosquito & Tick Killer and Maggie's Farm Yard Bug Spray.
An effective plant-oil based DEET-free personal mosquito repellent, like Maggie's Farm Natural Insect Repellent can help you keep mosquitoes away from and off of you and your family members.
Citronella candles and electric mosquito traps can also come in handy in repelling and controlling mosquito populations around your patio and yard. For ornamental water around your yard, you may want to consider using mosquito dunks.
For more on controlling mosquitoes, read the following articles:
Do I Need to Call A Pest Control Professional?
You can do quite a bit yourself to help manage mosquitoes around your home and yard. If you've got an overwhelming mosquito infestation around your home, consider calling a pest control company.
How do you control mosquitoes in your yard? We want to hear your tips and tricks! Leave us a comment below!
For scientifically-tested, effective mosquito control in your home that is friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective.