10 Facts About Mosquito Eaters that You Must Know
Mosquito eaters are large insects with clumsy flight patterns and are known for resembling real mosquitoes. This insect goes by several names, including the daddy long-legs and the mosquito eater, which has created a widespread misconception about the insect.
Its other name, the crane fly (Tipula Paludosa) best describes their behavior. Like house flies, they buzz loudly and are considered nuisances. On that note, many people ask if mosquito eaters eat mosquitoes and are surprised to learn the answer is no.
Why are They Called Mosquito Eaters?
Mosquito eaters live in both cold and warm climates due to their adaptability and can be found throughout the country.
Their larvae are called “leather jackets,” which are grub-like insects that have tough olive-brown. The idea of the mosquito eaters actually eating mosquito is a myth, which stems from the fact that leather jackets occasionally feed on mosquito larvae.
Mosquito eater larvae can decimate a lawn, so it’s important to understand what they’re attracted to and how to prevent them. Here are 10 important facts about mosquito eaters:
- There are approximately 14,000 species of mosquito eaters in the United States and can be found almost anywhere in the world due to their adaptability to different climates.
- During winter months, the larvae go into hibernation and will remain that way until the weather warms up.
- Females usually lay eggs in wet soil or algae patches but have also been reported to drop them mid-flight.
- The eggs hatch soon after landing, and the larvae start feeding on the roots in moist soil.
- Their eating decreases in winter but speeds up as the weather gets warmer and reach their peak in May. The larvae evolve into pupa in July and August and eventually repeat the cycle.
- Mosquito eater larvae do not eat when they enter their pupa stage.
- Adult mosquito eaters only live 10 to 15 days.
- While considered a pest, their larvae are signs of good water quality. Leather jackets breakdown waste in streams and soil, which makes the ground rich in organic matter that other species use.
- Mosquito eaters are vital components of the food chain, with mammals, reptiles, and other insects relying on them as a viable food source.
- Adult mosquito eaters are most active at twilight and are attracted to light in dark environments.
What do Mosquito Eaters Eat?
As we’ve mentioned, they do not eat mosquitoes. So, what do mosquito eaters eat? These insects feed off of flower nectar and are not physically capable of harming other insects.
Also stated before, leather jackets occasionally feed on mosquito larvae, but also eat the underground parts of plants.
Mosquito eaters are attracted to moist environments, compost piles, and wet soil. In general, if you water your lawn or have a sprinkler system, you’re at risk for infestation.
Do Mosquito Eaters Bite Humans?
No. The mosquito eater bite is non-existent. They lack mandibles and other combative features that would give them this ability.
Even though the mosquito eater bug poses no threat to humans or animals, it is still important to control their populations to protect your lawn.
How Do I Prevent or Treat Mosquito Eater Infestation?
Look for areas of discoloration in the grass. Then take a sample of the surrounding soil and scan for any larvae. Depending on how many are present, it could be a minor or severe infestation.
The presence of leather jackets often attracts birds, skunks, and raccoons. So if you see these animals digging around in your lawn, leather jackets are likely present.
There are several treatment options for leather jacket infestation, including biological agents like nematodes and relying on natural predators like birds or reptiles. You can also use pesticides like Sevin Dust, but make sure the product is designed to kill leather jackets.
Prevention is the best way to manage these insects, with the best methods being:
- Limit the amount of light in your yard
- Remove any thatch for healthy grass growth
- Aerate your lawn and soil
- Landscape the lawn and regularly mow it
- Apply addition nitrogen to the soil during summer to prevent leather jacket feeding
Even though adult mosquito eaters present no threat to humans and are essential to the ecosystem, their larvae can potentially devastate your lawn.
Along with regular lawn maintenance, put down fertilizer and aerate your lawn, which will encourage healthy grass production. Mosquito eater larvae will have to work harder to reach the soil, and the adults will have less success when laying them.
Consider hiring a professional if you have a severe infestation. These exterminators have experience in examining grass and will thoroughly eliminate any larvae and eggs lurking in your yard.
I know that mosquito eaters don’t bite humans, but what happens if I don’t get rid of them?
Nothing much happens if you let mosquito eaters wander around your home. The only two things this insect does in adulthood are feeding on nectar and mating.
They’ll only lay eggs in your home, producing more bugs in the process, and die. So while they can’t harm you, it might be better to get rid of them anyway.
Do mosquito eaters carry diseases?
No, they don’t carry diseases. Mosquito eaters can’t bite or sting, either, so they can’t hurt people. They eat local vegetation as larvae, but that’s the most harm they can do to their surroundings.
In a nutshell, mosquito eaters don’t harm humans or cause diseases.
How can I distinguish between a mosquito and a mosquito killer?
Mosquito killers, or crane flies, resemble giant mosquitos. They’re fatally attracted to light and completely harmless.
You can tell the two pests apart by size (crane flies are much larger), the shape of the abdomen (mosquito killers are more slender), and flight pattern (they’re more wobbly). You’ll ideally get rid of both if they enter your home, but actual mosquitoes are much more concerning.
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