The first mosquito bite of the year is never a celebrated occasion. At the very least, mosquitoes are annoying, but at their worst, they can bring diseases such as West Nile virus, the Zika virus, and in more tropical climates, even malaria. This is why it can be beneficial to keep animals that eat mosquitoes in your yard to help protect your home.
Animals That Eat Mosquitoes
Protecting yourself from mosquito bites can mean everything from citronella candles to mosquito repellents containing DEET. But what about building an environment in your backyard that attracts animals, insects and birds that eat mosquitoes?
A Mosquito’s Natural Enemies
Most insects have natural enemies and finding the ones that make your backyard comfortable just takes a little research. For mosquitoes, their most common natural enemies, other than man, are bats, dragonflies, birds, fish and turtles.
Bats: Man’s (Other) Best Friend?
Bats have had a bad reputation since the Middle Ages, but they’re actually very beneficial for the ecosystem. One of the main meals of choice for bats is mosquitoes. Go down to a bridge by a river around dusk and you’ll see the bats sleeping under the bridge come to life with a flurry of activity as they come out to feast on all the gathering mosquitoes. Bats feast on mosquitoes and other flying bugs and leave behind their guano (or droppings), which makes fantastic fertilizer for your garden.
The biggest drawback to having bats around your house is that they tend to also nest in the dark corners of overhangs, carports and garages, causing damage to your home. And if their guano isn’t cleaned up quickly, it can cause breathing problems for those with sensitive lungs. Learn more from Bat Conservation International about how to construct and install a bat house to provide a suitable home for these mosquito-eating mammals and contact a pest professional if bats are causing more problems on your property than they are solving.
Birds Can Banish Your Bloodsucking Backyard Residents
You may have heard that purple martins are perfect for keeping mosquitoes away, which is true, but they’re not the only bird that loves to snack on mosquitoes. Barn swallows, robins, mockingbirds, geese, ducks and songbirds all include mosquitoes in their diets. And who doesn’t love waking up to the sound of birds singing in the morning?
Inviting birds to your yard has many benefits, but there are also drawbacks, mostly in the form of nest building and droppings. If you put a bird bath in your yard to attract more feathered friends, make sure to add mosquito “dunks” to the water, which won’t harm the birds but will prevent mosquito larvae from hatching in the standing water. Keep bird seed containers in tightly-sealed containers and indoors so you don’t attract rodents and other types of wildlife.
Dragonflies Dine on Mosquitoes, Too!
Dragonflies are beautiful to watch as they flit from plant to plant. The colors of their wings catch the light just right and bring a swatch of color only seen in rainbows. These insects are very efficient eaters of mosquitoes and harmless to humans. Beauty and benefit – what more could you ask for? As with bird baths, just be careful about adding standing water to attract dragonflies, since this provides a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Fish and Turtles also Provide Natural Mosquito Control
As we have already discussed, having a water feature in your yard is a double-edged sword. It not only gives a place for mosquitoes to breed, it also provides a place for their predators to live and breed. As a matter of fact, it’s less the adult fish and turtles and more their infants that feed on mosquito larvae, stopping mosquitoes before they even develop.
Having a water feature with living residents is a great way to add a special touch to your yard, but you have to be careful that the water moves and doesn’t become stagnant. Stagnant water attracts more mosquitoes and other undesirable inhabitants. You will need to make sure you keep the area clean and well cared-for as leaves and other debris can also provide mosquitoes with a place to lay eggs.
Putting It Together
The best way to keep mosquitoes from bugging you this summer is to plan early to attract animals that eat mosquitoes. Here are some easy tips:
- Add birdhouses, bird feeders and bird baths to your yard. Not only will they attract birds to your backyard, it will liven up your environment. Get creative with different styles and types of feeders and houses to add some flair to your yard décor.
- Keep insecticide away from your yard. Remember that those animals that eat mosquitoes and other bugs rely on them being available, so if you kill them off, the birds won’t stick around.
- Plant night-blooming flowers to attract bats. Flowers such as datura, yucca, evening primrose and cleome add not only beauty to your back yard but will attract the bats that will eat the mosquitoes.
- Add a water feature to your yard. Everyone loves the sound of gurgling water over rocks. A water feature doesn’t have to be big to support the dragonflies, frogs, turtles and smaller fish that thrive on mosquito larvae.
- Get rid of standing water. Mosquitoes love standing water, so make sure any water features you have in your yard are flowing.
Above all, keep your yard well-trimmed and maintained. By adding just a few features to attract those animals that eat mosquitoes, you can have a beautiful, relaxing, mosquito-free summer.
ABC Can Tackle Your Mosquito Problem
At ABC Home & Commercial Services, we understand how annoying mosquitoes can be when they invade your outdoor spaces. If you need help putting together a landscaping plan to attract beneficial bugs or animals, or if you’d rather leave the pest control to the pros, we’ve got you covered. Set up a consultation today and we can get started on making sure you enjoy your yard without being bitten by these pesky pests.