A few years ago, I read that bats love mosquitoes. Convinced–willing to try anything to avoid spraying myself with toxic, bad-smelling DEET–I purchased a couple of bat houses online (according the website, two houses is the magic number). My husband climbed up a ladder, precariously stood upon the top rung and hung the houses onto trees (the instructions were very specific as to how high to hang the houses and how far they had to be from each other). Flash forward to today and we’re not sure we’ve attracted bats and. if we have, they are definitely not eating enough of our mosquitoes.
If not bats, what hope do we have for culling these swarms of insect vampires?
Fish: Bass, bluegill, catfish, fathead minnows, the western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), goldfish, guppies, and killifish are known to consume mosquito larvae. The mosquitofish, in fact have been shown to consume 42-167% of their body weight in various invertebrate prey including mosquito larvae per day, but they’re native to the watershed of the Gulf of Mexico.
Dragonflies eat mosquitoes at all stages of development and can be effective in controlling populations. They are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, are aquatic. Learn more about creating your own pond at National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife.
15 percent of North America’s 307 dragonfly species are in danger of extinction, the dragonflies at greatest risk for extinction are the stream dwellers, species that won’t be attracted to your backyard pond. “You can help protect their habitats by supporting laws and practices that reduce water pollution and protect riparian areas,” says Craig Tufts, chief naturalist for NWF. “You’ll be helping a lot of other creatures in the process.”
The purple marlin. Their mosquito controlling ability has been grossly exaggerated. According to James Hill, founder of the Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA), “The number of mosquitoes that martins eat is extremely insignificant, and they certainly don’t control them. In-depth studies have shown that mosquitoes comprise no more than 0 to 3 percent of the diet of martins. Martins are daytime feeders, and feed high in the sky; mosquitoes, on the other hand, stay low in damp places during daylight hours, or only come out at night.
Bats will eat mosquitoes, but don’t go out and specifically hunt just mosquitoes. In fact, studies of bats in the wild have shown that they consume mostly beetles, wasps, moths, and these same studies have shown that mosquitoes make up less than 1 percent of their total diet. Bats do us a great service by eating a huge amount of other flying insects and consequently help to control some dangerous and harmful pests.