We can all agree that mosquitoes are unwanted pests! Their buzzing and itchy bites can send a summer party indoors in a heartbeat. However, there are many creatures who benefit from the existence of mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes have many natural predators in the world. Next time you have a backyard barbecue, you may want to invite a few of these animals to the party.
Mosquitoes are small, annoying insects. Female mosquitoes require nutrients from blood in order to lay eggs. They are relentless in their quest to bite! They are most active during the early morning and evening.
Unfortunately, mosquito bites aren’t just irritating. Mosquitoes are the deadliest animal in existence and can spread diseases like West Nile Virus, Malaria, the Zika Virus, and Dengue Fever. They can also spread heartworms to pets.
There is a species of ant in Borneo, that eats mosquitoes and mosquito larvae. This ant lives in the stems of pitcher plants. The ant keeps the mosquitoes from stealing nutrients from the plant, and the plant provides food for the ant nest. That’s what I call a mutually beneficial relationship!
The Little Forest Bat is an impressive mosquito predator. These small, brown bats can demolish up to 600 mosquitoes per hour! However, for most bats, mosquitoes are only around 1 percent of their daily diet.
Rumor has it that purple martins are major mosquito predators. Unfortunately, the rumors aren’t all true. Purple martins do eat mosquitoes, but they would much rather eat bugs with a little more heft to them, like a moth or a fly.
Also, purple martins do most of their hunting and feeding high in the air. Mosquitoes usually tend to hang out at 20 feet above the ground or lower.
Ducks and geese eat just about anything they find in the water, including mosquito larvae. Mosquitoes lay eggs in still water, like ponds. This makes a convenient snack for any waterfowl in the pond.
Swallows, especially barn swallows, eat flying insects, including mosquitoes. They can down up to 60 flying bugs in just one hour!
There are many other varieties of birds that eat mosquitoes, including wrens, nighthawks, some woodpeckers, and sparrows. A bird feeder with the correct bird feed may attract mosquito predators to your yard!
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Mosquitoes, dragonflies, and damselflies all love the water! Standing, stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquito eggs and the perfect hunting ground for dragonflies and damselflies. Beautiful dragonflies and damselflies are not only fun to watch, but they may help reduce mosquito numbers as well.
Dragonflies can reach flight speeds of up to 30 miles per hour! These high speeds, plus excellent vision, and precise hunting skills allow dragonflies to snatch mosquitoes right out of the air.
Dragonflies have the ability to stop a mosquito before it can even bite! Immature dragonflies eat mosquito larvae.
Damselflies have similar breeding, hunting, and eating habits. Their flight speeds and hunting precision may not match those of the dragonfly, but they still get their share of mosquitoes.
Fish may be the most productive mosquito predator. Bluegill, guppies, goldfish, bass, and catfish all eat mosquito larvae.
The Western Mosquitofish is a small fish that is native to Texas. These little fish breed up to five times a year, producing a lot of hungry babies! They particularly enjoy chowing down on mosquito larvae.
People in Texas and surrounding areas obtain these fish for ponds and lakes to help control the mosquito population.
Frogs, Toads, and Tadpoles
Most tadpoles eat plant matter. However, the tadpoles of the giant tree frog, green tree frog, and the spade foot toad – all prefer mosquito larvae.
Adult frogs and toads eat an occasional mosquito, but, unfortunately for us, mosquitoes do not make up the majority of their diet.
There are a variety of mosquitoes that actually eat other mosquitoes ’ larvae! These predatory mosquitoes are larger than the usual mosquitoes and aren’t known to transmit diseases.
Any spider with a web has the potential to catch mosquitoes, among other flying insects.
Of all the turtle varieties, red-eared slider turtles enjoy snacking on mosquito larvae the most. However, most turtles will eat larvae.
How to Keep Mosquitoes Away
Even if you have a whole menagerie of mosquito predators in your yard, they would probably only make a dent in the mosquito population. Here are some other ways to deter mosquitoes.
Remove Standing Water
Still, stagnant water is an ideal mosquito breeding ground. Clean up any toys, birdbaths, or other receptacles for water in your yard. If you have a backyard pond, consider installing a pump or fountain that will keep the water moving.
Trim Grass and Weeds
Mosquitoes come out in the evening and early morning when the light is low. During daylight, they take refuge in grass, brush, and weeds. A groomed yard will give the mosquitoes fewer places to shelter during the day.
If your yard is a haven for mosquitoes, a mosquito misting system may be the solution to your problem! A mosquito misting system sprays a continuous mixture of pesticide and water over a large area.
Most mosquito misting systems come with a timer. Set the timer for the times when the mosquitoes are most active. The mist should work to repel and kill any active mosquitoes.
A misting system, like this one, is pretty pricey! You can create your own budget-friendly misting system with a simple misting cooler like this one, by adding inline pesticide or repellent. It won’t have a timer, so it will be a little more work to run, but it will cost far less money.
A bug spray that contains DEET, like this one, is most effective against mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide and lactic acid that are emitted by humans.
DEET confuses the mosquitoes’ neurons. In other words, if you wear DEET, you’re invisible to mosquitoes! In addition, DEET forms a barrier on the skin to keep mosquitoes from landing.
If you’re looking for a DEET-free, natural bug spray, I recommend this bug spray. Its active ingredient is the oil of lemon eucalyptus, a natural mosquito repellant. However, if you plan to spend a long time outdoors in an area with a lot of mosquitoes, a bug spray with DEET is recommended.
Bug Nets or Screens
A small area can be protected from hungry mosquitoes by using a mosquito net. Install a net or screen around patios, decks, or other outdoor areas.
A mosquito trap, like this, uses an octenol cartridge to attract mosquitoes. Octenol is a synthetic compound that mimics human breath. Once the mosquitoes are near, a fan draws them into the trap, where they dehydrate and die.
You can construct your own fan trap by placing a piece of screen or netting on the outtake side of a box fan. The fan will draw the mosquitoes into the screen and they will get stuck and die.
Even with this huge list of mosquito predators, there are still a lot of mosquitoes out there! Unfortunately, all these predators only make a small dent in the mosquito population. If you want to enjoy the outdoors on a summer evening, your best bet is a good bug spray!