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