One of the biggest question when talking about natural mosquito control is – Do other animals, insects, and birds can also be used to reduce a mosquito population in a backyard or garden? To answer this question we will firstly look at two famous flying mosquito eaters – Purple Martins and bats and will try to find out if they can affect a mosquito population in a smaller area.
When we think about mosquito eating predators the first thing that pops in mind obviously is a bird. Birds do not just feed on adult mosquitoes, but also eat mosquitoes in other life cycle stages when they are developing in the water. The most common birds that eat mosquitoes
are swallows, warblers, waterfowls, sparrows and few other species, but the most talked one is the Purple Martin.
This is a common bird species found in the United States, which often uses trees as its nest and feed on different flying insects. Many articles on the internet suggest that the purple martin is a mosquito-eating bird that will help to significantly reduce the mosquito population in your backyard. While some of this may be true, more specifically the part that purple martin indeed eats mosquitoes, but its absolutely false that the purple martin or any other species of birds in that matter will significantly reduce a mosquito population in an area. There are multiple studies about the eating habits of the purple martin which shows that these birds mostly eat other flying insects such as moths, bugs, bees and many others and mosquitoes make up only a small portion of insects on martin menu. Scientists believe that mosquitoes make only a few percent of daily menu for this bird species. Martins, same as other birds, prefer larger and metier insects and bugs that are more easy to catch, and as mosquitoes are very small insects that do not settle on one place for long period of time, they are also more difficult to catch, so birds prefer other insects in opposite to them. Another fact is that purple martin also eats dragonfly, which is an insect that feeds from smaller insects such as mosquitoes.
To conclude, although a purple martin will not significantly change the mosquito population, it still eats mosquitoes and so it can be used as a part of a mosquito control plan together with multiple other activities. Remember that to successfully fight with mosquitoes, you first need to terminate areas they use for reproduction, which include dark and humid places containing standing water. When you have got rid of places mosquitoes use for reproduction you can start attacking adult mosquitoes by using mosquito traps, mosquito foggers, and other insect control methods.
Now that we have learned that any bird species, including the Purple Martin, will not significantly reduce the mosquito population in your backyard, it is time to look at another famous myth. It is said that bats are birds that eat mosquitoes and will help to get rid of mosquitoes in your backyard.
Bats, same as the Purple Martin bird, do indeed feed on mosquitoes, but the problem is that mosquitoes are not the main part of their diet and they more likely will eat other insects such as moths, beetles, wasps, spiders and larger bugs. Basically a bat will eat anything it can find and it does not go hunting specifically for mosquitoes. The good thing is that bats are active at night in dark, which is also the time when mosquitoes are the most active, so there is a high chance that a bat will catch mosquitoes at night, but this number is pretty low and will not significantly reduce a mosquito count in that area. Some research has shown that mosquitoes take up only about 1% of bat’s diet, which shows that bats, same as birds, much rather prefer to eat larger bugs and insects.
Birds, bats, and other animals can be used as one of mosquito control methods, but alone they certainly won’t make a visible impact on the population of mosquitoes. Some species of birds like purple martin eat mosquitoes and these insects take few percent of their daily meal and bats, who are night hunters also feed on mosquitoes. But the problem here is that mosquito is a very small insect and is quite difficult to catch, although there might be a large count of mosquitoes in the air, so birds same as bats do not prefer to eat mosquitoes, because they can find much larger and slower insects such as moths, bees, wasps, different types of bugs and other insects.
In some way using birds or bats as a mosquito control solution reminds me of bug zappers. They also attract and kill huge numbers or insects and bugs at night, same as purple martins or bats can eat hundreds or insect at night, the only problem is that all of them mostly kill other types of insects and only a tiny part of their victims are going to be mosquitoes.
We suggest that you take a look at our complete mosquito control guide, where you will find useful information about different mosquito control methods, insect repellents and the best ways you can reduce a mosquito population in your area.