Mosquito Predators – what eats mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes have a number of predators that collectively can exert some influence on reducing mosquito populations. However, with a very few exceptions, predators generally have little effect on reducing the mosquito population over a large area. So, what are some animals that are mosquito predators?
While bats eat mosquitoes, they are far more effective at locating, catching and eating insects other than mosquitoes.
Many birds will eat mosquitoes. The more important among these are purple martins, swallows, waterfowl (geese, terns, ducks) and migratory songbirds. Bird predators usually eat both the adult and aquatic stages of mosquitoes.
Goldfish, guppies, bass, bluegill and catfish prey on mosquito larvae. But the most important fish predator, by far, is the Gambusia affinis, commonly known as the mosquito fish. This is probably the most effective predator of mosquito larvae and is used by many mosquito control agencies to augment their control efforts.
Frogs and Tadpoles
Most adult frogs and tadpoles do not include mosquitoes as a large part of their diet. Tadpoles infrequently feed on mosquito larvae and instead generally feed on small, suspended particles of plant-related materials. However, mosquito larvae predation is known for three species of North American tadpoles – the spade foot toad, green tree frog and giant tree frog. While not a direct act of predation, tadpoles may compete with mosquito larvae for food.
The red-eared slider turtle is generally thought to be the most voracious turtle that feeds on mosquito larvae.
Insects that prey on mosquitoes include:
Dragonflies are often referred to as “mosquito hawks.” Though they do eat mosquitoes, they do not eat enough mosquitoes to do much harm to wild populations. One feature that favors dragonflies as mosquito predators is that in the dragonflies’ aquatic stage, most of its food consists of mosquito larvae.
While damselflies are not as effective in controlling mosquitoes as dragonflies, their aquatic stage also consumes many mosquito larvae.
Some mosquitoes prey on other mosquitoes. The most notable being the predatory mosquitoes in the genus Toxorhynchites. These mosquitoes provide a double benefit since the larvae are predacious on other mosquito larvae and the adults are not known to transmit disease.
Both adult and larval species of aquatic beetles will consume mosquito larvae and pupae. Two beetles that readily eat the aquatic stages of mosquitoes are the predaceous diving beetle and the water scavenger beetles. However, they will consume many types of aquatic insects other than mosquitoes.
Spiders become mosquito predators when a mosquito inadvertently flies into a spider’s web where it is encased and eaten.