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What eats mosquitoes? Get to know the predators of mosquitoes

As we all know, the mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant water and go through a cycle of four phases (Egg, Larva, Pupa, Adult) to become an adult mosquito. During this process, Mosquitoes have to be safe from quite a few enemies. We can use these natural predators against mosquitoes to eliminate these blood-sucking monsters. First, we need an answer to the question, “what eat mosquitoes or who are the predators of mosquitoes?” Here, we will share our knowledge with you. By learning about the predators of mosquitoes, you can decide which animals or plants are beneficial to your surroundings.

What animals eat Mosquitoes?

The answer to the question, “What animals eat mosquitoes” can be varied from birds to bats, frogs to turtles, and even some species of their own. Some of them prefer to eat adult mosquitoes, and some prefer mosquito Larvae and Pupae. However, these predators are not able to impact the mosquito populations on large scale.

Do Bats eat Mosquitoes?

Yes. Bat do eat mosquitoes.

Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) – (Image by PublicDomainImages)

They are more effective at locating, catching mosquitoes with their senses. But there are no scientific proofs to confirm that Bats make an impact on controlling the mosquito population through predation. Let’s discuss this with more evidence.

It has been mentioned in several places that the Little brown bat or little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus) found in North America, can catch up to 1000 mosquitoes in just one hour[1]. This is a false assumption based on research carried out in the late 1950s. That research was done in a laboratory by releasing bats into a room filled with mosquitoes. A bat was able to catch more than 10 mosquitoes per minute. It was then extrapolated to assume that a bat could catch more than 600 mosquitoes per hour. If we considered that as a real fact, a herd of 500 bats could remove around 300,000 mosquitoes each hour and theoretically should able to control mosquitoes in an entire area. In reality, Bat’s food preference in a locked room can be drastically changed compared to an open environment where they have a variety of food options[2].

In 2018, another study was carried out on bat’s feeding habits. Samples of fecal materials of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) and big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) were collected from 22 sites and tested to detect arthropod DNA using a molecular method. Mosquitoes were detected in 71.9% of little brown bat’s samples and 33.3% of big brown bat’s feces samples. The results suggest that bats eat more mosquitoes in their natural habitats as well[3].

According to research done by the University of Sydney, it was found that mosquitoes are the main portion of the Little forest bats (Vespadelus vulturnus) native to south-eastern Australia.

As per an article published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Entomology, there was another study carried out to analyze the diet of wild bats by dissecting stomach contents. The diet of Little brown bats consisted of 71% small moths, 16.8% spiders, and 1.8% mosquitoes. For big brown bats, it was dominated by beetles and caddisflies. This suggested that the mosquitoes are not a critical part of bat’s diet and they are just opportunistic feeders.

The final conclusion would be like this. Bats are eating mosquitoes. But mosquitoes are not their main food preference. They eat whatever the insect they found first. It could be anything from moths, beetles, lacewings, flies, spiders, caddisflies, and mosquitoes. The number of mosquitoes they eat will depend on the number of mosquitoes and the opportunity. Even the bats are mosquito predators the impact on reducing the mosquito population is very less.

However, you can invite bats making your garden bats friendly by putting up some bat houses in tall trees. They will consume some mosquitoes around each night.

Do Mosquito hawks eat Mosquitoes?

There are no actual creatures as mosquito hawks. The name is often used for Crane flies, Damselflies, and Dragonflies. Dragonflies are the most notorious mosquito predator out of three types of insects. We will discuss each one of them in the next sections.

Do Crane flies eat Mosquitoes?

Yes. Very rarely.

Crane fly (Tipulidae) – (Image by pixel1)

They look just like an oversized mosquito. Crane flies have a very limited life span of around 10 to 15 days from the hatching. Their adulthood is also a few days and not able to eat during their adulthood.

The larvae of crane flies feed on mosquito larvae while in the water.

Do Dragonflies eat Mosquitoes?

Yes.

Dragonfly (Anisoptera) – (Image by liggraphy)

Dragonflies are feed on insects and reputed as great hunters with their hawk eye vision. Also, they can move from place to place at a speed of 25 to 30 miles per hour. A dragonfly can catch up to 95% of its targets. Lions are only successful at 25% of their targets. That makes dragonflies a great insect predator[4].

Their larvae stage is aquatic, and they live their adulthood around water bodies.

Mosquitoes are one of their preferred targets as mosquitoes are also roaming around water during their breeding and early adult stages.

Hence, Dragonflies have become natural enemies of mosquitoes. Dragonfly larvae feed on mosquito larvae whenever possible. Adult dragonflies eat flying adult mosquitoes[5].

It is said that adult Dragonflies can eat around 30 to 100 mosquitoes per day[6].

There is much news on the internet as dragonflies reduce the local mosquito population. However, there is no scientifically proven evidence support that. There are pieces of evidence to prove that the dragonfly larvae are the main predator of aquatic stages of mosquitoes as most of their food includes mosquito Larvae and Pupae during the young stage of the life cycle. A study carried out in 2013, has suggested the possibility of using Dragonfly larvae to control the mosquito population.

If you see these beautiful dragonflies around your pond, do not get rid of them. They can ensure natural mosquito control.

Read more about dragonflies here.

Do Damselflies eat Mosquitoes?

Yes.

Damselfly (Zygoptera) – (Image by Steve Bidmead)

Damselflies are also a good natural predator of mosquitos. They look like a smaller version of Dragonflies. But they fold wings along the body

Damselfly larvae are also aquatic and feed on mosquito larvae. Damselflies eat adult mosquitoes during their adulthood.

There is a debate on Damselflies are not as effective as Dragonflies. However, they are still an effective mosquito predator.

Do Birds eat Mosquitoes?

Yes. Some species.

Insects are a favorite diet of many species of birds. Mosquitoes also become a target of them naturally. However, they do not exclusively feed on mosquitoes and they are just opportunistic feeders.

Few species are known to eat mosquitoes such as;

Purple Martins, Barn Swallows, Blackpoll Warblers, Yellow Warblers Waterfowls (Geese, Terns, Ducks), Red-Eyed Vireos, Chirping Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Phoebes, Baltimore Orioles, Hummingbirds, Chimney Swifts, Common Wrens, Nighthawks and few species of Migratory Songbirds.

Waterfowls like Terns, Ducks, and Geese easily eat mosquito larvae as they mostly live near water bodies such as swamps and wetlands.

Purple martins are the most famous species of birds as mosquito predators. There are rumors on the internet as a Purple martin can eat around 2000 mosquitoes per day and up to 14000 when mosquitoes are plentiful. This is not a scientifically proven fact at all and just an estimate of the number of mosquitoes that would need to sustain a Purple martin. It is true that Purple martins eat mosquitoes, but not that much. Studies say that their diet does not consist of more than 3 percent of mosquitoes[7].

Purple martin (Progne subis) – (Image by jnelson)

They do not desperately hunt for mosquitoes. However, that doesn’t mean that they do not eat mosquitoes. A skinny small mosquito will not give them at least the energy that they spent to catch the mosquito. A large, fat insect-like Dragonflies, Flies, Moths, Butterflies, and Bugs will give them more treats than a little mosquito. Naturally, they target large insects.

Also, most of the birds feed high on the air. A common mosquito can only fly around 20 feet high which are far below where bird do the hunting. In that sense, mosquitoes are not a prime target of them.

Hummingbirds are feed on flower nectar, but they eat mosquitoes and other tiny insects (like Gnats, Aphids, Flying Ants, White Flies) to fulfill their protein requirement.

Barn Swallows are said to be able to catch up to 60 mosquitoes per hour. This is also not a proven fact in the natural environment.

Even the birds do not affect to control of mosquito populations on a large scale, they do contribute to eating them on some scale. So, you can attract them to your garden by placing bird nests and feeders.

Do Fish eat Mosquitoes?

Yes. Some species.

The champion, “Mosquito Fish” (Gambusia Affinis) is the commonly used and most effective one as they hunt for mosquito larvae aggressively. They are commonly used by mosquito controlling agencies purposefully as a predator of mosquito larvae[8]. Mosquito fish are small, and an adult will be grown up to 1.5 to 2.5 inches long. They can eat around 1 to 1.5 times their body weight in a day, where a significant portion of the food is consists of mosquito larvae[9]. Also, they breed more hungry babies up to 5 times a year. The high reproduction rate and the high appetite make the Mosquito Fish an ideal choice to control mosquito populations especially in water bodies like ponds. If you are planning to raise them, never release them out of control as they are hardy, reproduce quickly, and could be invasive. If you are planning to raise them mixing with another fish species, seek for necessary instructions from experts as they will need protection from larger fish.

A study done by the University of Wisconsin in 2009, found out that Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas) are very effective at consuming mosquito larvae. In the laboratory, a single fish consumed 74 mosquito larvae within a day. Fathead Minnows were tested to be very effective in ditches and detention ponds.

Mosquito Fish (Gambusia Affinis) and Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas)

Goldfish are also known as mosquito larvae hungry fish that could be added to your pond. The problem with them is the size they eventually get, and which may be too big to consume larvae.

Even though it was not scientifically assessed, Guppies, Bass, Bluegill, and Catfish are considered as eating mosquito larvae and pupae.

Usage of mosquito-eating fish in its nonnative areas is now being controlled worldwide due to a few reasons.

  • Impacts of introducing nonnative fish over native fish, non-fish species, and the aquatic environment.
  • Disease transmission from nonnative fish to native variants.
  • In some regions, native fish can be more effective for mosquito control. If you need to use a nonnative fish, local legal regulations may have to be followed[10].

If you have a pond in your yard, the best option to control mosquitos would be having some fish.

Do Frogs eat Mosquitoes?

Yes. Frogs and its Tadpoles and Toads eat mosquitoes. But not mostly.

Frogs are one of the first animals that come into our minds as insect eaters. However, adult mosquitoes, larvae, and pupae are not frequent or a large part of their diet.

Tadpoles of most frog species do not feed on mosquito larvae and they mostly feed on plant particles. Occasionally they eat mosquito larvae.

There are three species of North American tadpoles that are known to be mosquito larvae, predators. They are Spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus hammondi), Green tree frog (Hyla cinereal), and Giant tree frog (Hyla septentrionalis).

Apart from them, European green toad (Bufo viridis), Sandpaper frog (Lechriodus fletcheri), Indian bullfrog (Rana tigrina), Coronated treefrog (Anotheca spinos) are also identified as mosquito larvae predators from other parts of the world.

As per Public Health Reports published for 1896-1970 Spadefoot toad tadpoles and were effective at controlling Aedes dorsalis mosquitoes as they consumed mosquito larvae. The experiment was done in artificial containers.

From another study, it was identified that mosquito larvae had a difficult time gaining sufficient foods when tadpoles are present in the same water body.

Most of the studies were conducted in laboratory conditions and the results may be different in the natural environment. So, the frogs, toads, and tadpoles eat mosquitoes, however, will not help to control the mosquito population effectively. Anyway, you can allow frogs, tadpoles, and toads to be in the pond or any standing water bodies as they help to reduce mosquitoes even on a small scale. Make sure to follow relevant local legal regulations in case of having nonnative species in your region.

Do Turtles eat Mosquitoes?

Yes. Not all species.

Usually, large animals do not tend to hunt for small insects like mosquitoes. However, few studies have verified that the Red-eared slider turtle is feed on mosquito larvae and can be used to control mosquito populations effectively.

Red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) – (Image by zoosnow)

One study was done in Honduras in 1993. A 6 to 12-month-old turtle was placed in a cement water storage tank. At the end of the testing period, the turtle was able to completely control the mosquito larvae population in the tank[11].

Another study was carried out in Louisiana, USA. Turtles were introduced to larvae filled roadside ditches. Turtles were able to control the mosquito larvae population up to 99% by the 5th week of the study[12].

If supplemental foods and a proper living environment can be provided, Turtles are a great option for isolated water bodies like ponds, artificial lakes. Always make sure to follow relevant local legal regulations in case of having nonnative species in your region.

Do Spiders eat Mosquitoes?

Yes.

Spiders are not active mosquito hunters. They automatically become mosquito predators once a flying adult mosquito is trapped in a spider’s web.

Do Mosquitos eat Mosquitoes?

Yes. There are some species.

As mentioned in some articles, a few species of mosquitoes victimize other mosquitoes. Especially the mosquitoes belong to Toxorhynchites genus.

The colorful Toxorhynchites rutilus is the most known species and also known as ‘Elephant Mosquito’ or ‘Mosquito Eater’. They are the largest mosquitoes in the USA with a wingspan of nearly 24 mm and a length of 18 mm.

Most people often incorrectly identify the adult Crane fly as the Elephant mosquito[13].

Female elephant mosquitos do not need to bite and drink blood to mature eggs. They take the nutrients from carbohydrate and sugar-rich materials such as honeydew, juices from the plant, and fruits.

Elephant mosquito’s larvae feed on other mosquito’s larvae. Aedes aegypti which is the vector of Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, Yellow fever diseases, and Toxorhynchites rutilus (Elephant mosquito) share the same habitat during the larval stage. Elephant mosquitos’ larvae can consume every single larva in the habitat during their development.

Watch how Elephant mosquito larvae feed on other mosquito’s larvae here

So, these mosquitoes provide more benefits being a predator of harmful mosquitoes, being a beneficial pollinator, and not transmitting diseases. 

Read more about Elephant Mosquitos here.

What plants eat mosquitoes?

You may know that there are many plants that attract and eat insects, mainly the Carnivorous plants like Pitcher, Drosera, Venus flytraps[14]. Let’s discuss if these plants eat mosquitoes and the possibility of using them to control mosquitos.

Carnivorous plants

Pitcher plant (Nepenthes)

Pitcher plant (Nepenthes) – (Image by Brian Diehm)

This is the largest group of carnivorous plants and also known as the “Trumpet leaf” [15][16]. It attracts insects with its nectar, fragrance, color, and traps them into its pitcher. Then the plant ingests the insects and gets the nutrients to grow. The main victims of the plant are Bees, Wasps, Flies, Ants, Beetles, etc. Some people say that it eats Mosquitos as well. However, it is not scientifically proven that Pitcher plants can repel mosquitoes or can be used to control mosquitoes.   

Sundews (Drosera)

Sundews (Drosera) – (Image by Robert Balog)

Being a member of the Carnivorous plant genera, Sundews also attracts insects with its scent and eats them once landed on its flowers. Then it uses the acids to digest the insects. It is not scientifically proven that mosquitoes are common victims of this plant.

Venus flytraps (Dionaea Muscipula)

Venus flytraps (Dionaea Muscipula) – (Image by MonikaP)

This is also belonging to the Carnivorous plant genera. It mostly consumes insects like Ants, Slugs, Spiders, Flies, Beetles, and Mosquitoes. They do not eat the insects that pollinate them. Venus flytraps are not frequent eaters and only consume a few insects a week.

Carnivorous plants eat insects. But none of them are not scientifically recommended for mosquito control. There some studies suggest that these plants may probably make the problems worse.

Most Carnivorous plants attract insects with their nectar. When it comes to mosquitos, males are the ones feed on nectar. The plants won’t attract blood-sucking females and still, you will be their main target.

As Carnivorous plants consume insects like Bees, Butterflies, you will lose friendly pollinators in your garden than the pesky mosquitos.

Carnivorous plants grow in swamps and very damp soil. Sometimes you will need to keep water trays when you planted this in the garden. Mosquitoes like attending water, damp areas, and swamps to lay eggs and to relax. So, this will be like a grand welcome to mosquitos into your garden.

Some reports mentioned that some mosquitoes lay their eggs in pitcher plants. The eggs and larvae are resistant to the digestive acids in the plant. So growing pitcher plants may be like creating a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Do some more research by yourself and decide on the possibilities of growing plants to control mosquitos.

Read More here.

Summing up the things

Predator plants are not an option to control mosquitos. The most effective natural predators of mosquitoes are fish, especially the Mosquitofish. Red-eared slider turtles are also a good option. The overall impact of other natural mosquito predators is not considerable and won’t help to significantly bring down mosquito populations. They may not be able to keep us safe from mosquitos. But they all are assets to your garden and good to have. So, you can allow them in your yard as they can help you in at least some way.

Now we know what eats mosquitos or who are the predators of mosquitos. Also, we have revealed some myths with facts and now you are aware of them as well. You can use this knowledge in your yard. Have some mosquito fish, minnows in your pond. Encourage dragonflies to visit your garden. Build up a birdhouse for Purple Martins or bats. Let us know your experience in the comments section. Do not forget to check our other articled related to mosquitos.

How long do mosquitoes live?

Where Do Mosquitoes Live?

What do Mosquitoes eat?

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