Mosquitoes are flying tiny insects found in most parts of the world. They are two-winged, long-legged insects usually 6-12 mm long, with both males and females possessing antennae and elongated proboscis three to four times as long as their heads. These tiny insects belong to the family Culicidae and the order Diptera and are generally known as true flies. Apart from mosquitoes with scaled wings, all true flies have two wings. Some mosquitoes are called vectors because they transmit infectious agents from an infected human or animal to another.
The Background on Mosquitoes
Across the globe, there are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes. However, in the Continental United States and its territories, you can find more than 200 types of mosquitoes. Interestingly, only a few (12 of 200) of them spread infections/germs. Others go about their business – creating a nuisance. Apart from animals that eat these flying insects, humans also pose a significant threat to mosquitoes.
What Eats Mosquitoes?
Fish, dragonflies, and damselflies are among predators that eat mosquitoes and influence their population around the globe. Mosquitoes are known for their small appearance which supports their swift movements. Nevertheless, their speed usually does not save them from these predators.
Everyone wants to know how to get rid of mosquitoes naturally, but only a few know the tricks of reducing them. Well, let’s check out the list of natural predators of mosquitoes.
Mosquito Predators: Fish
Fish are one of the most effective natural predators of mosquitoes. Bluegills, Goldfish, catfish, guppies, and mosquitofish eat mosquito larvae. However, the mosquitofish, also known as Gambusia affinis, remains the most effective species for Mosquito control. It is widely recognized and used as a biological control agent against mosquito larvae.
Mosquito Predators: Dragonflies
Dragonflies are also natural enemies of mosquitoes at all life cycle stages. Like mosquitoes, dragonflies and dragonfly larvae live in water, with the former being preyed on by the latter. Adult dragonflies eat adult mosquitoes, and it is interesting to know that having these beautiful insects around your pond will naturally control mosquitoes in the environment.
Mosquito Predators: Damselflies
Synonymous to dragonflies, damselflies are also a good contender for consuming mosquitoes. They eat up to 100 mosquitoes a day or even more. Damselflies, known for their extreme beauty, are very beneficial as they help reduce the population of insects in the environment.
Mosquito Predators: Turtles
Turtles eat a wide range of food, including insects, tiny fish, and plants. Many of the different species feed on larvae of other insects, including mosquitoes. Turtles thrive in still waters and feed on mosquito larvae, hindering the mosquito life cycle. Generally, the most voracious mosquito larvae eater is the red-eared slider turtle.
Mosquito Predators: Beetles
Both adults and larvae of aquatic beetles eat mosquito larvae and pupae. Interestingly, the two most common beetles that fall under this category are Cybister Chinensis and aquatic feeding beetles. However, beetles consume many types of aquatic insects other than mosquitoes.
Mosquito Predators: Spiders
Despite being common predators that eat whatever they can prey on, spiders regularly eat annoying home pests and disease-carrying insects, such as cockroaches, flies, clothes moths, and mosquitoes. Spiders are famous for catching and consuming insects in their nests. And since mosquitoes are smaller than most flies, they are easily captured in spider webs. They automatically become meals for spiders, as spiders are not selective about the insects they eat.
Mosquito Predators: Birds
Many birds eat mosquitoes. They have an appetite for both adult and aquatic mosquitoes. Mosquito-eating birds feed during the day in flight while maintaining outdoor areas that enable them to help control mosquito populations.
Birds like swallows, warblers, purple martins, waterfowl (geese, terns, ducks), and other songbirds consume flying insects, including mosquitoes.
Swallows majorly eat tiny flying insects like flies, moths, dragonflies, and mosquitoes. Their exquisite movements are among the most beautiful attributes that distinguish them from other birds. Swallows spend most of their awake time on their wings, feasting on large and small insects. With their wide mouths open for every flight they make, they catch several flying insects to survive and stay healthy. However, they rest on branches and power lines when they are not plunging.
Mosquito Predators: Bats
Millions of bats are found in different regions all around the world. Bats are considered one of the most significant mosquito predators. They are voracious mosquito eaters and are pretty effective for mosquito population control.
Mosquito Predators: Western Mosquitofish
Western mosquitofish are very effective in fighting mosquitoes. They are only 1.6 to 2.8 inches long and are considered native Texas. Their scientific name is Gambusia affinis; they give birth to live young and breed up to 5 times a year. That means lots of hungry baby fish! Western mosquitofish eat aquatic invertebrates, especially mosquito larvae. Their high breeding rate and strong appetite make them ideal for mosquito control in ponds and stagnant waters.
What Plants Keep Mosquitoes Away?
Apart from animals, some plants also aid mosquito control. Some of these include:
How Mosquitoes Defend Themselves
Mosquito saliva contains painkillers that allow mosquitoes to bite victims without getting detected. They fly very fast, making it difficult to attack them.
The existence of mosquitoes may appear to be meaningless to humans, but mosquitoes play an essential role in the ecosystem. Mosquitoes are an indispensable source of biomass in the food chain. However, they are known carriers of infections and diseases like Malaria, Zika virus, West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, dengue, and West Nile virus.
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