As you know, mosquitoes are ready to take a meal on humans, but there are also some animals or insects that eat mosquitoes. While most mosquito predators don’t eat enough mosquitoes to reduce the overall mosquito population, they will make a slight difference. So they are worth encouraging as a free, passive, eco-friendly mosquito deterrent.
In this post, you will find out what eats mosquitoes and how they might help you.
What Insects Eat Mosquitoes?
Dragonflies belong to the Odonata order of flying insects and are predators of mosquitoes. They eat them at different stages of their life.
Adult dragonflies will feed on adult mosquitoes during the day. But as mosquitoes often shelter during the day and are more active at night, the number of adult mosquitoes caught by adult dragonflies may not make much difference to the mosquito population.
However, dragonfly larvae (nymphs) also eat mosquito larvae, and as with many forms of mosquito control, this is where they will have the most impact on mosquito numbers. Their smaller cousin, the damselfly, is also a predator of mosquitoes in both the adult and nymph stages.
The praying mantis will eat soft-bodied insects when they are young, including some mosquitoes but not enough to affect the number of mosquitoes in your garden.
Some other aquatic insects that eat mosquito larvae or other small invertebrates are the pond skater (Gerridae), backswimmers (Notonectidae), the predaceous diving beetle (Dytiscidae), the giant water scavenger beetle (Hydrophilidae), and whirligig beetles (Gyrinidae).
Many of these insects will eat mosquito larvae in their adult and larvae stages.
Ants aren’t equipped to hunt mosquitoes, but they will eat dead mosquitoes. However, there is one ant in Borneo, the Camponotus schmitzi, that lives in Pitcher plants (carnivorous plants), and this ant can swim underwater and eat mosquito larvae found in the plant. Having ants that eat mosquitoes is beneficial for the plant as the larvae will deprive the plants of valuable nutrients.
There are some mosquitoes that prey on other mosquitoes. The Toxorhynchites rutilus or elephant mosquito is considered a beneficial mosquito due to its pollination capabilities and the fact that it doesn’t bite. Both the adult males and females feed uniquely on pollen. Another significant benefit of elephant mosquitoes is that their larvae feed on other mosquito larvae.
Due to these facts, the elephant mosquito is seen as a possibly attractive eco-friendly way to deal with pest mosquitoes. However, naturally, the predacious mosquito does not lay enough eggs to keep pest and vector mosquito populations in check.
Some studies have used elephant mosquitoes to reduce pest mosquitoes in Florida. These studies had to rear and release additional elephant mosquitoes to control the pest production. The data suggests that if captive rearing of elephant mosquitoes can be mastered and the mosquitoes are released at the right moment, they could have an effect on controlling mosquitoes over the season they are active. Limiting mosquitoes in this way could be part of an integrated mosquito control program.
Spiders That Eat Mosquitoes
Spiders will eat anything trapped in their web, but they don’t target any specific insect. When a mosquito is caught in a web, it might become the spider’s next meal, but it won’t catch enough to affect the mosquito population.
However, two species of spiders actively go after mosquitoes.
The Evarcha culicivora or vampire spider is found around Lake Victoria in Africa and hunts mosquitoes and other small flies. It apparently prefers female anopheles mosquitoes, especially after they have had a blood meal. These are the mosquitoes that transmit malaria. The vampire spider hunts its prey based on what it has eaten, and by consuming a blood-filled mosquito, the spider becomes a more attractive mating partner.
The Evarcha culicivora spiders are sometimes found on the walls inside homes, but they will probably be killed due to the fear of spiders. This is a shame as they can’t bite and are hunters of disease-spreading mosquitoes.
The Paracyrba wanlessi spider is found in Malaysia and lives in the hollows of bamboos. This sp der preys on adult mosquitoes, larvae, and pupae.
Fish That Eat Mosquitoes
If you have a pond, you may be worried about mosquitoes using your pond for breeding. The good news is that many fish will eat mosquito larvae, and this is a great natural way to limit their population. Here are a few common fish you could introduce into your pond.
There are many different sorts of goldfish that will eat mosquitoes, but for economy and hardiness, the common goldfish is a good choice. They can tolerate poor water quality and a wide variety of temperatures.
The mosquitofish or Gambusia affinis are renowned for being an exceptional eater of mosquito larvae, eating from 100 to 500 larvae per day. They are small fish growing to a maximum size of about 3 inches.
The drawback with these fish is that they multiply very quickly, this might be great for controlling the pests, but they may attack other fish or beneficial insects in your pond. They are also known as an invasive species, so you have to be careful of how you dispose of them. And they shouldn’t be introduced into natural water, where they might disrupt the ecological balance.
A guppy will eat nearly their body weight of larvae each day. A small fish, about 2.5 inches long, they will explore the smallest nooks and crannies of your pond, searching for mosquito larvae. Like the Gambusia, guppies multiply very fast, and you may start with just a few guppies at the beginning of the season and finish with hundreds.
To control their numbers, you can remove some with a net from time to time, and you may find pet shops that will take them. Otherwise, when the temperature falls below 55°F, they will die, or you can introduce larger fish that will eat them.
Another small fish, the minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus), will eat large quantities of mosquito larvae. Like many other small pond fish (around 3 inches in length), they reproduce quickly, and larger fish may eat them in your pond.
That’s just a few mosquito-eating fish; of course, there are others like Koi Carp, catfish, or golden orfe. What you choose will depend on the size and depth of your pond, water temperature, and other requirements.
Small fish will tend to eat more mosquitoes than larger fish, so if you have a problem with the mosquito population, goldfish and some smaller fish such as minnows or mosquitofish (remember they are considered invasive) could be a good choice. These are quite hardy fish; guppies will require a higher water temperature which might make them less suitable in certain locations.
Birds That Eat Mosquitoes
There are many birds that eat mosquitoes, although the effect they may have on mosquito populations may often be overstated.
Birds are mainly active during the day when mosquitoes are less active and sheltering from the sun. The mosquitoes will become more active in the evening, and some birds are still active at this time. Some birds can also eat mosquitoes at other stages of their life cycle, i.e., when they are developing in water. However, mosquitoes will generally only make up a small part of a bird’s diet.
Here are three birds that eat mosquitoes, but there are many others that like to feed on insects.
This species will feed on flying insects such as wasps, ants, beetles, moths, and flies. They will also eat a mosquito predator, the dragonfly. It’s a lovely bird to have around for its insect-eating abilities and also for its beauty. People hang birdhouses to attract them to their gardens.
The barn swallow eats various flying insects, including flies, beetles, moths, damselflies, and grasshoppers. Nests under eaves, in barns or other open buildings, under bridges, or in shallow caves.
There need to be insects to attract them to your yard, so no insecticides and a garden with diverse vegetation and flowers to attract different insects. Water, they like to drink, flying low over an area o open water, dipping their beaks to get a drink. They often drink in our pool which is a delight to watch. And most importantly, they will need a nesting place, an overhang that will protect them from the elements.
Geese and ducks can eat both adult mosquitoes and larvae. They don’t eat only mosquitoes but will also eat snails, other larvae in the pond, and various plants.
Bats That Eat Mosquitoes
It’s often suggested that bats can make a dent in mosquito populations, but there is little evidence to support these claims. However, a study carried out in Wisconsin and published in the Journal of Mammalogy showed that certain species of bats might be important in controlling mosquito populations. The bats in the study were the little brown bat and big brown bat; the little brown bats were found to eat many more mosquitoes than the big brown bat.
Although the results show bats may eat more mosquitoes than previously thought, they state that more research is required to determine their effectiveness in mosquito control. Below are two small bats that eat mosquitoes and other insects.
Little Brown Bat (myotis lucifugus)
These bats weigh from 5 to 12 grams (under 0.5 oz), have a body length of about 3.5 inches, and a wingspan of 9 to 10 inches. As the above study confirms, little brown bats are known to eat mosquitoes. But the quantities consumed may vary greatly depending on the insects available. They also eat moths, beetles, flies, ants, mayflies, and spiders.
Little Forest Bat (Vespadelus vulturnus)
The little forest bat lives in the eucalyptus forests and urban areas of south-eastern Australia. It weighs only a few grams and is slightly smaller than a sparrow. They feed on flying insects, and mosquitoes are an important part of their diet.
Amphibians That Eat Mosquitoes
Frogs and toads don’t eat many mosquitoes. Tadpoles of most frog species are herbivores and suspension feeders. However, there are a few frog/toad species that can feed on invertebrates.
- Spadefoot toad
- Green treefrog
- Giant treefrog
- European green toad
Although little is known about the relation between tadpoles and mosquito larvae, with only a few tadpoles that eat larvae, tadpoles may compete for the same food. Thus, making it more difficult for the mosquitoes to get enough food and develop into adults.
One turtle species, the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta), has been used to control mosquitoes. A study in Honduras where they were introduced into water storage tanks has shown they can be very effective. In another study in Louisiana, the turtles were introduced into roadside ditches, and they reduced mosquito reproduction by 99%.
Unfortunately, the use of these turtles should only be in areas where they cannot escape or in areas where they occur naturally. They are already considered one of the world’s worst invasive species.
What Eats Mosquitoes? – Conclusion
As you can see, mosquitoes have a wide range of predators. Although red-eared slider turtles seem to be the most efficient predator in mosquito control, they can’t be used much as they are invasive.
Although insects, birds, bats, spiders, and reptiles will eat some mosquitoes, you shouldn’t expect them to eliminate all the mozzies. They will eat hundreds of insects but only a proportion of these will be mosquitoes.
The first place to start in your fight against these pesky insects is to remove any standing water that can be used as a breeding site. A few places you can look for standing water are old tires, plastic sheets, children’s toys, wheelbarrows, buckets, saucers under flower pots, and blocked gutters. Water in birdbaths or paddling pools should be changed at least once a week, and a swimming pool should be treated and clean.
Like other mosquito control measures attacking the larvae seem to be the most successful form of action, and for this, fish are the best natural predator if you have a pond or body of water. There are also larvicides that will kill mosquito larvae without harming other animals or insects.
It’s worth encouraging other animals into your garden, as many, such as birds, bats, and other insects will have an effect on the mosquito population, but they are also lovely to watch and an eco-friendly, free way of helping with these annoying insects.