Mosquitoes in my wildlife garden pond. What do mosquitoes eat? What eats them?

August 22, 2015

in A selection of my garden wildlife videos, Gardening For Wildlife, Insects

What do mosquitoes eat?

If you have a wildlife garden pond, its likely you have mosquitoes with larvae swimming in it or adults flying over it. They were one of the first inhabitants of my new wildlife pond. There are so many predators in my pond that they certainly do not last long! So what do they eat? Blood I can hear you all say! Of course you are right, but only partially. As larvae mosquitoes filter floating food particles, grazing on algae, leaf detritus and animal remains. The adult females procure a blood-meal (from humans, livestock, birds, reptiles and mammals, depending on the species) and supplement their diet with plant juices. Adult males do not require blood relying solely on plant juices. The females need the protein from the blood for the development of their eggs.

Mosquito larvae Nurturing Nature

As larvae they are harmless filtering machines! Watch them in video below.

What eats mosquitoes?

Parasites and predators find them in every different habitat they live in and eat them at every stage of their lives: eggs, larvae, pupae, emerging, resting and ovipositing adults. Predation of larvae and pupae will depend upon which aquatic habitat or other habitat the mosquito finds itself. It would appear that those mosquito larvae found in tree-hole water may not have water based predators to contend with in the UK. This list is not a definitive list and for ease of reading and time, I have used mostly common names! Besides, many of these actual predatory species only have a scientific name and not all of the species named predate on mosquitoes.

What water bodies do larvae and pupae live in?

They inhabit water bodies which can be broadly separated into: permanent freshwater, temporary woodland pool/flooded areas, brackish water salt marshes, tree-hole water and artificial habitats, such as water butts and can even include stacked car tyres! Inside artificial containers, there would be less areas for mosquito larvae to hide and less escape routes from predators.

Predation

Different predators will predate them depending upon the habitat used, species of mosquito and the stages of life cycle that predator and prey are at in a given moment in time. For example, certain water beetle larvae may not encounter mosquito larvae when remaining on the bottom of the water body, which is where they may live at a certain stage of their life cycle whereas the mosquito larvae tend to stay near the water surface.

Predators

Numerous freshwater fish species including pond dwelling common minnow, sticklebacks and goldfish;

Tadpoles and adults of newts, toads and frogs;

Adult and larvae water beetles, e.g. great diving beetle;

Caddie flies;  Stoneflies;  Pond slaters;  Shrimps;  Mayflies;  Dragonfly/damselfly adults and larvae;

Whirligig beetles;  Water measurers;  Water crickets;  Water scorpions;  Flatworms;

Predatory flies, e.g.dance flies, thick headed flies. It appears that these predatory flies predate emerging or resting mosquitos on the water surface and possibly ovipositing females. Even more surprising is that researchers found that these flies accounted for a significant number of mosquitos.

Pond skaters, (which stab the larvae or adults with their piercing/sucking mouthparts as they emerge and suck the life juices as do other true bugs!)

Backswimmers, not to be confused with mainly vegetarian lesser water boatmen which swim top side up and common backswimmers swim on their backs;

Spiders with and without webs, taking many whilst they rest in vegetation;

Mosquito Wikipedia

Click on picture to enlarge

Swifts;  Housemartins;  Swallows;  Meadow pipits;  Pied flycatchers;  Pied Wagtails;

Blue tits;  Coal tits;  Willow tits;  Marsh tits;  Long tailed tits;  Wren;  Goldcrests:

Chiffchaffs;  Grey wagtails;  Moorhens;  Linnets;  Willow warbler;

Whitethroat;  Mallard;  Siskin;  Redpoll;  Yellowhammer and Bats.

Noticeably missing from this bird list is Great tits, Robins, Blackbirds, though likely they would not miss a quick meal if they saw and caught one resting!

Certain bacteria; fungi; parasitic aquatic mites; protozoa;  nematodes and viral infections.

Even hibernating mosquitoes (never knew they hibernated!) are not safe from hunting spiders.

The backswimmers are common and effective predators of mosquito larvae. They were amongst the very first invertebrates to inhabit my new wildlife pond, within 4-5 days. There were mosquito larvae present in the water when they arrived. I actually heard a low buzz/humming noise as then a plop, as one flew past my head and into the pond! Yes, they can fly as well as swim! I also found one nearby the pond, trying to swim on a wet paving slab!

Refs. Besides my own experiences and observations:

Drawing of a Mosquito

Download Natural predators and parasites of British mosquitoes  which was very interesting!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Pilkington August 24, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Very healthy pond George,well done…

Reply

nurturingnature August 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Thanks Mike, it will get better!! Cheers George

Reply

Lorinne May 17, 2016 at 7:25 pm

We inherited a small artificial pond, about ten feet long, two feet wide and two feet deep. Two years ago we placed ordinary “feeder fish” goldfish at 22 cents each, about an inch long. We have no fountain, no nothing, the fish are now over 6 inches long, had babies last year, and no more mosquitoes! We do feed them from april to october (we live on the west coast of Canada). Just be very sure there is no chance your pond could flood releasing fish into the natural waterways – this is would be extremely detrimental to the ecology of local waterways.

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nurturingnature May 18, 2016 at 9:36 pm

No fish and no chance of flooding into nearby rivers… 3 miles away! Thanks for sharing, G

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Josh August 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Hey, I have recently seen a weird transparent worm with tiny red dots on its body. It’s about 1 or 2 inches long. Do you know what it it’s?

Reply

nurturingnature August 15, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Sorry Josh. Try the earthworm society! Cheers, George

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Barry June 25, 2017 at 11:45 am

Thanks for helping me identify these small creatures in my new wildlife pond. My question is ….would they be harmful to birds taking a bath or drinking at the pond edge?

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nurturingnature June 26, 2017 at 7:43 pm

The birds may even try to snap them up given half a chance!

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Samantha Sethi August 3, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Hey we recently made our own pond in the back garden. We have had the pond for just over a week or two now and we have noticed loads like thousands of small worm/ tadpole like creatures swimming around in it which we have identified as mosquito larvae. So my question is when they fully develop and grow will they leave our pond or will they constantly stay around the pond? Because we are thinking if we will be able to access our garden now without the threat of a mozzie bite. Eagerly waiting your reply. Thank you

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nurturingnature August 7, 2017 at 10:20 am

Predators will sort out many of these as your pond develops, in particular, backswimmers which were the first to come to my pond for a feast!

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