Mosquitoes lay their eggs in areas with standing water where the larvae can hatch, feed, and mature into adulthood. Many animals will eat adult mosquitoes as part of their natural diets, but only a small variety of insects, fish and other small animals will feed on mosquito larvae.
About Mosquito Larvae
Mosquito larvae usually remain at the surface of a body of water such as a garden pond. Their breathing tubes stick out of the water. If you blow across the surface, you’ll see them wiggling around. They range in size from microscopic to a half-inch long. Mosquito eggs will hatch in about one to five days. The larvae will mature to adulthood in about a week.
Although many predatory aquatic insects will eat mosquito larvae if it is the most abundant food supply, dragonfly nymphs (larvae), water beetles and damselflies eat them as part of their natural diets. Plants such as cattails around garden ponds will attract dragonflies.
Most fish will eat mosquito larvae. A few species specifically consume larvae as part of their natural diets, such as guppies, goldfish, tilapia and some types of cyprinids. The Mosquito fish (Gambusia) in particular is a hardy predator of the larvae. They are able to tolerate varying water temperature changes and chemical and organic pollutants other fish can't. Mosquito fish can eat more than 160 larvae in eight hours.
According to a 2007 study published by the American Mosquito Control Association, red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripts) are highly effective predators of mosquito larvae. The study introduced the turtles to an enclosed ditch area in Louisiana. The turtles reduced the mosquito larvae populations in the area by 99 percent.
Frogs, Toads and Tadpoles
Adult toads and frogs will consume the adult mosquitoes, but they are not a major part of their diets. Tadpoles of some frog species will eat the larvae if nothing else is available. Tadpoles will also compete with the larvae for food. The competition makes it difficult for the larvae to consume enough nutrients to mature.