It’s time to stop these bloodsucking mosquitoes from feeding on us. Why not let them have a taste of their medicine? Introduce these natural mosquito predators into your lives and let them feed on the mosquitoes. They can even be your new pet that helps you out in the house.
Without mosquito larvae, many fish species would have to change their diet. Some common ones include goldfish, koi and guppies.
The most notable is the Mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis), a predator that specializes in killing and feeding on mosquito larvae. According to the Press trust of India, on 23rd February 2014, the Chennai Corporation introduced mosquito fish into 660 ponds to control mosquito population by eating mosquito larvae.
The mosquito fish remains relatively small compared to other freshwater fish and feeds primarily at water surfaces consuming a massive amount of mosquito larvae which thrive at this surface. This predator has the ability to survive in extreme temperatures, low oxygen environments, waters of poor quality and high salinity. Because of its adaptability to these harsh conditions, this fish is quite easy to care for in an aquarium or pond and can be found in many fresh water bodies around the world.
For breeding, the female fish views the male as a threat to its fry and if an aquarium is used, the female should be separated once she shows as pregnant otherwise she will delay the laying of her fry.
This predator has been placed in swimming pools and stocked in rice fields in an effort to control the spread of mosquitoes and for other pest control.
According to Zainiev and muminov, 1983, releasing pregnant Gambusia into Uzbekistan rice fields in May ensured 100% mortality of Mosquito larvae by August.
Spiders (Paracyrba wanlessi and Evarcha culicivora)
Although generally spiders often opt for other delicacies besides mosquitoes, two types of spiders would ignore the other insects to feed on these bloodsuckers. The Paracyrba wanlessi and Evarcha culicivora have been noted to naturally enjoy feasting on mosquitoes.
The Paracyrba wanlessi is commonly referred to as the Malaysian jumping spider and thrives in the water filled internodes of decaying bamboo where it feeds on mosquito larvae but it’s also hardwired to hunt adult mosquitoes regardless of whether they are fed or not.
The Evarcha culicivora also known as the vampire spider on the other hand is naturally wired to stalk and feed on blood filled female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is the only known animal that chooses its prey based on the latter’s diet.
Fiona Cross and Professor Robert, of the New Zealand’s University of Canterbury in their publication “The journal of Arachnology’’ showed that in their experiment where they reared spiders in the laboratory providing them with non-mosquito diets and then gave the arachnids various options on the menu, they still chose mosquitoes.
These arachnids are common in various parts of East Africa especially around Lake Victoria.
Predacious Mosquitoes (Toxorhynchites rutilus)
Interestingly, there’s a special type of mosquitoes that feed on other mosquitoes. Yes, this is true! The Toxorhynchites rutilus is one such predator, popularly known as the mosquito eater or the elephant mosquito due to its long trunk-like proboscis. Most mosquito larvae feed on bacteria and algae in water, but this mosquito eater, in its larval stage, specializes in consuming other mosquito larvae, occasionally even preying on each other.
They are found to be widely distributed throughout the southeastern USA and Some areas of Australia. They can breed easily in man-made water containers, car tyres and other small water bodies.
More interesting though is that in its adult stage, the elephant mosquito feeds on flower nectar, plant sap, honey dew and juices from rotting fruits but not human blood or animal blood and it is indeed a beneficial pollinator.
Larissa E. Collins and Alison Blackwell of the department of biological Sciences, University of Dundee, UK recognized the Toxorhynchites as potential biological control agents of vector species mosquitoes.
These are believed to be harmful to human beings which is not the case because they do not bite nor sting. On the contrary, they consume a massive number of mosquitoes as part of their diet. An adult dragonfly is believed to consume anywhere between 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes a day alongside other diet options which include butterflies, small midges and smaller dragonflies.
These mosquito predators are attracted by solar panels, polished gravestones, automobiles and any other shiny surfaces which they mistake for water due to the effect of polarization.
Dragonflies can be found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica.
Little Forest Bats (Vespadelus vulturnus)
According to Merlin D. Tuttle of Bat Conservation International, some bats are capable of consuming more than 1,000 mosquitoes per hour. The Little Forest Bats have been found to exist in the eucalypt forests of south eastern Australia. They feast on flying insects that they catch on their wings including mosquitoes. In the 2006 issue of the “Journal of Zoology.” Jens Rydell et al… noted that remarkably, these bats successfully captured their prey 92 percent of the time through their emission of high pitched squeaks.
The little forest bats roost in tree hollows, timber stacks and building roofs in colonies of less than 50 individuals so a bat house and eucalyptus trees would help in attracting these mosquito predators.
Leroy Gonsalves and colleagues in their research article published on 10th October 2013 concluded that although mosquitoes were only preyed on by two smaller species of bats, they were consumed by more than 50 % of the Vespadelus Vulturnus.
Pitcher Plant and Carpenter Ant Combo
There exists a unique animal-plant relationship between the pitcher plant also referred to as pitfall traps and the carpenter ants scientifically known as the Camponotus schmitzi. Together and individually, these two are mosquito predators.
The ants also known as the swimming/diving ants are native to the tropical forests of Borneo. They thrive inside the stem of pitcher plants from where they feed on insects found on and around the plant. This includes mosquito larvae found on the surface of water around the plant as well as adult mosquitoes caught flying around the plant.
The pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant endowed with a prey-trapping mechanism featuring a deep cavity formed by its cupped leaves filled with digestive fluid liquid which dissolves prey caught in it. The ants survive being digested by the pitcher plant only because they dip briefly into the pitcher and do not stick around long enough to be eaten. Like all carnivorous plants, the pitcher plant grows in areas where the soil is poor in minerals for most plants to survive and supplements its nutrients with nitrogen from its insect prey.
Growing and caring for these pitcher plants is easy as they don’t need rich soils but a medium that drains well is very important. If grown indoors, the plant should be fertilized with good orchid food at the start of the growing season. Outdoor plants naturally lose some of the pitcher shaped leaves which ought to be pruned off and also mulch should be mound around the base to protect plants in the ground.
The Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia elegans)
This is a pipe vine that resembles the pitcher plant with huge flowers shaped like curved pipes. Like the pitcher, it uses these flowers to attract insects including mosquitoes for pollination and then preys on them. The Dutchman’s pipe is easy to care for and to achieve good growth, this predator requires a vertical structure for its twining stems, good water drainage and sun.
Well as it originates from South America and West Indies, it has been found in parts of South and East Africa.
Butterwort (Pinguicula Vulgaris)
This carnivorous plant though passive in nature has greenish-yellow wet-looking leaves which it uses to entice unsuspecting mosquitoes and other insects into landing on the sticky mucous substance leaving them trapped and ready to be digested for nitrogen supply to the plant.
This trapper thrives in soils where nutrients are poor, humid environment with sun or partial shade and frequent supply of water preferably collected rain water otherwise distilled water.
It is grown in Europe, Southeastern United States, Canada and Russia.
Venus flytrap (Dionaea Muscipula)
This plant thrives in poor, acidic soils with good drainage preferably of rain water and humid environment with bright light or partial shades to achieve a pink interior of the leaves. Using its sweet scented nectar, this flytrap attracts the flying blood suckers alongside other insects which it traps behind the interlocking hairs of its leaf edges.
They grow in coastal North and South Carolina.
According to the American Cancer Society, Venus flytrap extracts are used in alternative medicine as treatment for Skin cancer, Crohn’s disease and HIV though scientific evidence doesn’t support these claims.
Other Honourable Mentions
There are many other mosquito predators in the environment, but their diets constitute of mosquitoes as a minor portion.
Lizards, which do not consume many mosquitoes but will capture them opportunistically.
Toads and Frogs do consume mosquitoes but they do not constitute a significant part of their diet. The Journal of Vector Ecology,” by S. Blum et al., published in 1997 noted that mosquitoes made up less than 1 percent of the diet of the frogs.
Some birds also feed on mosquitoes, but in small amounts.
- Purple Martins also consume mosquitoes although not in large portions as compared to other insects but that is because the martins are diurnal.
- Hummingbirds eat mosquitoes in small quantities. They need to eat in frequently to maintain their movements and they primarily feed on nectar.
- Meadowlarks eat mosquitoes sparingly as well.
One interesting question we’ve seen is “do moths eat mosquitoes?”, and the answer to that is no. They have a probocis that is used to extract nectar, and liquids from sources like fruits and pollen.
The next time you’re thinking of getting a pet, consider adding these mosquito predators to your residence instead. They do need a little more effort to be taken care of, compared to a mosquito killer device. They are alive after all.
Are there any mosquito predators that you’d like us to know about? Have you had any experiences with these natural predators? Tell us in the comments below!