One of the biggest questions when considering natural mosquito control methods is if you can use other animals – for example, birds or other insects – to reduce the mosquito population. To answer this question, we’ll look at two famous winged mosquito eaters: purple martins and bats. We’ll try to find out if they can reduce the mosquito population in a small area.
When considering mosquito predators, you may think first of birds. Birds don’t just feed on adult mosquitoes, they also eat mosquitoes in other stages of their life cycle, including when they’re developing in the water. The most common birds known to eat mosquitoes are swallows, warblers, waterfowl, and sparrows. But, the most discussed mosquito-eating bird is the purple martin.
This is a species found in the US, which often nests in trees and feeds on different flying insects. Many articles on the internet suggest that the purple martin is a mosquito-eating bird that will help significantly reduce the mosquito population in your yard.
While purple martins do eat mosquitoes, purple martins (or any other species of birds for that matter) will NOT significantly reduce the mosquito population in an area.
Studies of purple martin diet show that these birds eat a wide variety of flying insects, including moths, flies, and bees. Scientists believe that mosquitoes make up only a small percent of the insects purple martins consume. One major reason for this is that mosquitoes and purple martins are active at different times of day, making contact between them rare. Another thing to keep in mind is that purple martins also eat dragonflies, which feed on smaller insects such as mosquitoes.
So, even though purple martins won’t significantly control the mosquito population, they do eat mosquitoes. You can rely on them as part of a mosquito control plan, along with other tools.
Now that we’ve learned that any bird, including the purple martin, won’t significantly reduce the mosquito population in your yard, it’s time to look at another famous flying mosquito eater. You’ve probably heard that bats eat mosquitoes and that they can help get rid of mosquitoes in your yard.
Bats, like purple martins, do feed on mosquitoes. The problem is that mosquitoes aren’t the main part of their diet, either (in one study making up about 1.8% of the diet). They are more likely to eat other insects such as moths, beetles, and spiders. However, recent research suggests that both little and big brown bats consume multiple species of mosquitoes, including those that carry West Nile Virus.
The good thing is that bats are active at night, which is also when mosquitoes are the most active. This means there is a high chance that bats will catch mosquitoes at night, but they’re unlikely to significantly reduce the mosquito count in the area.
You can rely on birds, bats, and other animals to help with mosquito control, but they won’t be enough on their own.
Using birds or bats as a mosquito control method is like using a bug zapper. Like purple martins or bats, a zapper can attract and kill hundreds of insects. The only problem is that all of them mostly kill other types of insects – only a tiny percentage of their victims are mosquitoes. Of those mosquitoes, most are male. Male mosquitoes don’t bite.
Don’t forget that to successfully win in the war against mosquitoes, you’ll need to eliminate the areas they use for reproduction first. This means you need to get rid of all standing water. When you clear out all of the places mosquitoes use for reproduction, you can start attacking the adult mosquitoes.
We suggest taking a look at our complete mosquito control guide. We’ve collected useful information about different mosquito control methods and insect repellents as well as the best ways to reduce the mosquito population in your yard.