Mosquitoes are a nuisance, often leaving you with itchy bites. They can quickly hinder summer fun for you and your family. Even though you can’t stand them, they seem to keep coming back.
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Dragonflies (Anisoptera) and the closely related damselflies (Zygoptera) are insects that eat mosquitoes. Along with other insects, these bugs are nicknamed “mosquito hawks” because they eat mosquitoes. Dragonflies feed during the day, while mosquitoes typically hide in shady areas.
They can still eat 30–100 mosquitoes daily. Dragonfly larvae can help prevent mosquito infestations. Dragonfly larvae feed on mosquito larvae that are hiding beneath the surface of the water.
Some ants feed on mosquitoes too. Unfortunately, most mosquitoes can escape ants when they fly. Ants usually feed on dead mosquitoes, which doesn’t really help keep them away.
However, the ant species Camponotus schmitzi feeds on mosquito larvae. These ants can swim under water on the stems of certain pitcher plants.
Some mosquitoes actually eat other mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are known as predacious mosquitoes. The elephant mosquito (Toxorhynchites) is a predacious mosquito and can be found in parts of the United States.
Their larvae feed on the larvae of other mosquitoes. Adults feed on flower nectar, not adult mosquitoes. Elephant mosquitoes aren’t harmful to humans.
ANIMALS THAT EAT MOSQUITOES
Web-building spiders are known to eat mosquitoes they manage to capture, but they have a stronger preference for other insects as food. In sharp contrast, two species of jumping spiders (Evarcha culicivora, aka the Vampire spider, from Africa and Paracyrba wanlessi from Malaysia) make their favorite snacks out of mosquitoes.
Vampire spiders specialize in feeding on female Anopheles mosquitoes that have recently had a blood meal. Paracyrba wanlessi spiders (sometimes compared to “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, and ducks. Birds that spend time in the water have a better chance of catching mosquitoes.
While many believe purple martins consume thousands of mosquitoes, they actually don’t eat very many. Purple martins often feed while flying, and mosquitoes aren’t typically in their path.
Bats eat many species of nocturnal insects, including mosquitoes. Their built-in echolocation sonar systems make it easy for them to locate insects. Bats are known to consume many insects in one night. Not all bats want to eat insects. Some species feed on fruit, seeds, and other animals.
Several fish species feed on mosquito larvae, including goldfish, guppies, and bass. One fish that loves to eat mosquitoes is the mosquito fish (Gambusia affini).
This fish eats mosquito larvae and can consume up to 100 larvae per day. This helps prevent adult mosquitoes from developing and new eggs from being laid.