Mosquitoes pursue the blood of humans and animals for food, but they are food for many creatures, especially when they are in the larvae form. Some people spray to reduce mosquito numbers, others reduce habitats where mosquitoes might breed. Another way to cut the mosquito population is to help their natural predators thrive. This can be an effective way to limit mosquito-borne transmission of diseases such as encephalitis, West Nile disease and heartworm.
Salamanders and fish such as minnows, Gambusia, and guppies love "wigglers," or mosquito larvae. In a balanced aquatic ecosystem, they can reduce the number of mosquito larvae in a short time. However, some of these predators will not be able to survive winter temperatures.
Purple martins have had a reputation for mosquito control, but they have the reverse effect. Purple martins will eat mosquitoes, but they actually prefer dragonflies, which happen to be excellent mosquito predators. Insect-eating birds such as swallows do help reduce the mosquito population to some degree. Some seed-eating birds feed mosquito larvae to their young. The best way to attract helpful birds is to add wildflowers, bushes and berry trees, and install and maintain a birdbath.
Insects common around ponds, such as dragonflies and damselflies and surface insects such as water striders and water spiders, eat mosquito larvae in the water. Diving beetles, also known as "water tigers," also consume mosquito larvae. Supporting these predators means being careful with insecticides and keeping their environment healthy and unpolluted.
Bats are well-known mosquito predators, but don't make a huge dent in the mosquito population by themselves. It may look like bats are out all night catching mosquitoes, but in fact they may fly as little as an hour to catch their fill of a variety of insects. Bats will devour dense clouds of mosquitoes each night, but that accounts for thousands of skeeters when there are millions in the area. In water, frogs, snakes and crayfish eat adult mosquitoes and the larvae.