Do Birds, Bats & Traps Really Work?
Let’s face it – mosquitos have a bad reputation. The impact of their bites can be as minor as a slight irritation, or as serious as the transmission of diseases like the West Nile and Zika viruses. Mosquito season begins when temperatures reach a consistent 50 degrees and mosquito eggs begin hatching. In Maryland this commonly occurs in early to late April.
Are Bats Considered Effective Mosquito Control?
Mosquitoes have various natural enemies, bats perhaps being the most well-known. These species seem to have a reputation as vast mosquito predators, but the truth is that they don’t serve as effective mosquito control. Studies show that a colony of bats can consume over a quarter of a million mosquitos per hour, but you must account for the fact that the experiment took place in a lab where mosquitoes were the only offered food source.
So, What Else Do They Eat? Hungry Bat Facts
Bats do eat mosquitoes, but mosquitos only make up a small portion of their diet when you consider that they also like to eat moths, beetles, flying ants, leaf hoppers and crickets. In fact, studies revealed that little brown bats showed only 1.8% mosquitoes in their fecal pellets, compared to 71% moths and 16.8% spiders.
Bird Alert! Purple Martin Predators for Pest Control
Like bats, purple martin birds have a reputation for preying on mosquitos despite their vast diet. Mosquitoes mainly prey at night, while purple martins prefer to feed during the day. Mosquitoes have never been proven to make up more than 3% of their diet, so they aren’t viable as fully effective mosquito control. Purple martins can be helpful in eliminating garden pests like cucumber and Japanese beetles; however they also eat mosquito predators like dragonflies.
Mosquito Traps to Avoid
There are various types of mosquito traps on the market, most requiring some form homeowner maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they’re all effective. Before you rush to the hardware store to purchase an ultrasonic device for your mosquito concerns, you should know that at least 10 studies in the past 15 years have unanimously revealed that they have no repellency value whatsoever.
How to Minimize the Impact of Mosquitos
Baited mosquito traps are put into place to decrease the number of egg-laying females through their capture and have great potential to do so, but noticing a considerable reduction in the population depends on various factors. Bug-zappers that utilize black lights for control have been proven to attract and kill thousands of insects in a single 24-hour period, yet studies found no significant difference in the number of mosquitoes found in yards with or without bug zappers. The following tips are ideal for homeowners who want to reduce mosquito bites:
- Avoid outdoor activities during dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most active
- Wear light, loose-fitting clothing
- Install General Electric yellow “bug lights” on your deck or porch (they are not repellant, but they don’t attract mosquitoes like other incandescent lights do)
- Turn on any outdoor fans you may have (mosquitos are weak fliers)
- Light citronella candles (while mildly repellant, any candle producing smoke will help)