Bugs That Look Like Mosquitoes: An Intriguing Guide to Common Imposters

Mosquitoes are often associated with annoying bites and disease transmission. However, not all insects that look like mosquitoes pose the same threats. In fact, some bugs only resemble mosquitoes in appearance, without actually causing harm to humans or animals.

One such example is the crane fly, which bears a striking resemblance to mosquitoes but doesn’t bite or carry diseases. On the other hand, midges are small insects that are also similar to mosquitoes in appearance, but their biting habits and potential to spread diseases can vary depending on the species. By understanding these differences, we can better identify harmless insects from those that pose health risks.

Common Bugs That Resemble Mosquitoes

Crane Flies

Crane flies belong to the Tipulidae family and are often mistaken for mosquitoes due to their similar appearance. However, there are some key differences:

  • Crane flies are larger than mosquitoes
  • Crane flies have elongated legs, while mosquitoes have shorter legs
  • Crane flies do not bite or feed on blood

For example, the Tipula paludosa can be easily distinguished from mosquitoes by its larger size and long legs.

Midges

Midges are another group of insects that are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes. They belong to the family Chironomidae, and some examples include the Dixid midge and the Buzzer midge (Chironomus plumosus). Here are some differences:

  • Midges have shorter, bushy antennae
  • Midges usually do not bite or feed on blood
  • Mosquitoes have a distinct proboscis for feeding

Mayflies

Mayflies, also known as shadflies or fishflies, can look similar to mosquitoes, but they belong to a different order of insects called Ephemeroptera. Key differences include:

  • Mayflies have two or three long, slender tails
  • Mayflies do not feed on blood or bite
  • Mayflies have short-lived adult stages

For instance, the Ephemera danica is a common mayfly species with these characteristics.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are small, delicate insects that resemble mosquitoes and belong to the family Sciaridae. Here are some ways to differentiate them:

  • Fungus gnats are smaller than mosquitoes
  • Fungus gnats have long, bead-like antennae
  • Fungus gnats do not bite or feed on blood

A common example is the Bradysia sp., which is often found indoors near potted plants.

Feature Mosquitoes Crane Flies Midges Mayflies Fungus Gnats
Size Varies Larger Similar Varies Smaller
Legs Shorter Long & slender Similar Similar Similar
Antennae Proboscis Varies Short, bushy Varies Long, bead-like
Biting / Blood Feeding Yes No Rarely No No

Identifying Key Differences

Appearance and Size

  • Mosquitoes:

    • Small and slender
    • Length: 1.5 to 10 mm
    • Wings: clear and scaled
  • Crane flies:

    • Larger and more robust
    • Length: 10 to 60 mm
    • Wings: clear and unscaled

Insects sometimes mistaken for mosquitoes include crane flies, wood gnats, and dance flies. Crane flies are larger and have a more robust body than mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have clear and scaled wings, while crane flies have clear and unscaled wings.

Habitat and Behavior

  • Mosquitoes:

    • Frequently found near sources of stagnant water
    • Bite humans and animals to draw blood
    • Active mainly during dawn and dusk
  • Crane flies:

    • Found in damp places, such as wetlands or woodlands
    • Do not feed on blood or bite humans and animals
    • Adult crane flies have short life span and may not feed at all

Mosquitoes are commonly found near sources of stagnant water and feed on blood, while crane flies typically inhabit wet environments and do not bite or draw blood. Crane flies are not known to spread diseases, unlike mosquitoes that can transmit serious diseases.

Life Cycle

  • Mosquitoes:

    • Eggs: laid on water surface or moist areas close to water
    • Larvae: live in water, breathe through a siphon
    • Pupae: non-feeding stage, similar to a cocoon
    • Adult: emerges from water after metamorphosis
  • Crane flies:

    • Eggs: laid on soil or aquatic plants
    • Larvae: live in soil, decomposing plant material, or in water
    • Pupae: non-feeding stage, resembles a barrel
    • Adult: emerges on vegetation after metamorphosis

The life cycle of mosquitoes and crane flies follows the egg-larvae-pupae-adult pattern, but with notable differences. Mosquito larvae live in water and breathe through a siphon, while crane fly larvae live in soil or aquatic environments and feed on decomposing plant material.

Feature Mosquito Crane Fly
Size Small Larger
Wings Clear, scaled Clear, unscaled
Habitat Stagnant water Damp places
Biting Yes No
Larval habitat Water Soil or aquatic

Do They Pose a Threat?

Biting and Health Risks

Bugs that resemble mosquitoes, such as mosquito hawks and chironomus plumosus, may alarm homeowners. While mosquito hawks, also known as crane flies, have a similar appearance to mosquitoes, they pose no health threat. In fact, they neither bite humans nor transmit diseases.

Chironomus plumosus, or non-biting midge, also resemble mosquitoes but do not pose a direct health risk. However, their presence in large swarms can be annoying and disruptive.

Comparison table:

Bug Biting Health Risk Annoyance
Mosquito Hawk No No Low
Chironomus Plumosus No No Moderate

Damage to Lawns and Gardens

While adult crane flies do not threaten the health of humans or lawns, their larvae, known as leatherjackets, can cause damage by feeding on the roots of grasses and other plants. Signs of leatherjacket infestation include:

  • Patchy, yellowing grass
  • Birds digging at the lawn surface

To reduce the risk of infestation, engage in proper lawn care, such as regular mowing, aeration, and overseeding.

Chironomus plumosus, on the other hand, do not cause any damage to lawns or gardens.

Summary of damage:

  • Mosquito Hawk (leatherjacket larvae): Can damage lawns
  • Chironomus plumosus: No damage to lawns or gardens

Prevention and Control Measures

Natural Predators

One way to help control bugs that look like mosquitoes is by encouraging their natural predators in your environment. For example:

  • Dragonflies: Known to consume a large number of bugs, including those that resemble mosquitoes.
  • Birds: Some species, such as swallows, feed on insects and can contribute to controlling their populations.

Home and Yard Maintenance

Proper home and yard maintenance can assist in reducing the presence of these bugs:

  • Remove standing water: This prevents breeding grounds for insects like mosquitoes as well as their look-alikes like owl midges and leptoconops torrens.
  • Clean gutters and drainage systems: Prevent accumulation of organic material which can harbor larvae of chiggers and other insects.
  • Keep the grass and vegetation trimmed: Overgrown grass can provide hiding spots for various insects.

When considering control methods, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Here is a comparison table for two popular approaches:

Method Pros Cons
Chemical treatment Fast-acting May harm beneficial organisms
Organic treatment Environmentally friendly Slower results

In conclusion, using a combination of natural predators and proper home and yard maintenance can help control bugs that look like mosquitoes. By focusing on these methods, it’s possible to create a more comfortable and bug-free environment.

The Role of These Insects in the Ecosystem

Pollinators and Decomposers

Some insects that resemble mosquitoes, such as wood gnats, play an essential role as pollinators. They help propagate plants by transferring pollen from one flower to another, which is crucial for plant reproduction. Decomposers, like leatherjackets and other insects, break down dead organic matter and recycle nutrients back into the ecosystem.

  • Pollinators (e.g., wood gnats)
    • Transfer pollen between flowers
    • Support plant reproduction
  • Decomposers (e.g., leatherjackets)
    • Break down dead organic matter
    • Recycle nutrients back into the ecosystem

Food Source for Other Species

These insects also provide a vital food source for various species, like birds and fungi. For example, many bird species are known to feed on such insects, and fungi can also depend on them as an essential nutrient source by breaking down their exoskeletons.

  • Birds
    • Depend on these insects for sustenance
    • Example: songbirds feeding on wood gnats
  • Fungi
    • Gain essential nutrients by breaking down insect exoskeletons

Comparison Table

Feature Birds Fungi
Dependence on insects
Examples Songbirds Decomposer fungi
Role in ecosystem Predator Decomposer

Overall, insects that resemble mosquitoes contribute significantly to the ecosystem by acting as pollinators, decomposers, and food sources for various species.

Conclusion

In this article, we explored various bugs that resemble mosquitoes. Some of these insects include crane flies, midges, and fungus gnats. It’s important to remember that while they may look similar, their behavior and effects on humans can vary significantly.

To help distinguish these bugs, we’ll compare their characteristics in a table:

Bug Size Bite? Habitat
Mosquito Small Yes Standing water
Crane Fly Large, long legs No Damp, vegetated areas
Midge Tiny Some Aquatic environments
Fungus Gnat Tiny No Overwatered plants

Here are some key features of each bug in bullet points:

  • Mosquitoes: small, slender body, and transmit diseases
  • Crane Flies: large, long legs, and harmless to humans
  • Midges: tiny, often form swarms, and some species bite
  • Fungus Gnats: tiny, attracted to overwatered plants, and do not bite

Being able to identify these insects helps in preventing unnecessary panic and taking appropriate action if necessary.

While mosquitoes are known for spreading diseases, it’s important to keep in mind that not all bugs that look like mosquitoes pose the same risks. Educating ourselves on the differences will help us respond appropriately and maintain a healthy environment.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mosquito Larvae

 

Subject: what is this
Location: south carolina
June 4, 2015 7:10 am
I found these in my dogs water bowl. I thought they were tadpoles until I took a closer look. Any ideas?
Signature: megan

Mosquito Larvae
Mosquito Larvae

Hi Megan,
Out of curiosity, how often do you change your dog’s water?  These are Mosquito Larvae and they are generally found in stagnant water.

I normally change it daily, but last week was crazy and I missed a couple of days…never again. Thank you for letting me know what they are. They have been in a jar for 3 days (and are now disposed of).

Letter 2 – Mosquito Larvae from Australia

 

Subject: Spikey Black inch long larvae/caterpillars?
Location: Sydney, Australia, NSW
April 4, 2017 4:41 am
So a friend of mine found these larvae(?) in his fish pond, dozens of them, they breathe through a snorkel and are almost an inch long. I have yet to see them in person, but I don’t seem to be able to find anything that fits closely and hes never had them before. Maybe of note is that we have had a lot of rain lately so perhaps they are thriving because of all of the fresh rainwater and his pond only has floating duckweed and salvinia. Does he need to be worried about his smaller baby fish if these are carnivorous?
Signature: Ashton

Mosquito Larvae

Dear Ashton,
What kind of fish does your friend have?  We would think fish would gobble up these Mosquito Larvae.  Your friend might want to consider adding some Mosquito Fish to the pond to help eliminate these aquatic larvae that will eventually become blood-sucking, flying Mosquitoes.   Here is a Getty Images image to support our identification.  Here is a larval comparison image from NSW Arbovirus Surveillance & Vector Monitoring Program.  Mosquito Larvae are commonly called Wrigglers.

Thank you for the photo references.
He has koi fish which logically should be eating them.
Its weird though ive never seen wrigglers as large as he was telling me as i personally collect them to feed to my aquarium fish at home. What he explained was that they were the size of grubs. Hes collected wrigglers for his smaller fish for years and has never had ones like these so maybe theyre from a different species of mosquitoe to usual.

Update:  April 10, 2017
On second look, they look a lot like the culex variety. Will have to research mosquitoe varieties in my local sydney area.

Letter 3 – Mosquito Pupa

 

Subject: Unidentified larva in pond
Location: NNorthern Central Valley California.
March 14, 2014 10:09 am
I started a new frog pond and began seeing Mosquito larva. At first I hunted them down individually with a turkey baster and got rid of them until I suddenly had hundreds! I purchased a biological remedy safe for other wildlife and all the mosquito larva disappeared overnight thankfully. BUT there are some other larva that were unaffected. The behavior is similar to a mosquito larva as they wiggle underwater when I shine a flashlight on them but they are oval shaped when viewed from above as they keep their tailed curled underneath them. they have two tiny nubs of an antenna as well. I caught one and observed it (Too small for a picture really although I will make the attempt). But they resemble a small grammarian and most definitely have metallic green coloring as well as black. I put it right back into the pond thinking perhaps it may be a larva of something beneficial??? I absolutely love your site and use it often! Thanks!
I have already submitted this once but after poking around on the net I found a much better picture posted by someone from Colorado. I used a bacterial larvacide to get rid of the hundreds of mosquito larva in my newish pond yet these were unaffected. Behaviorally they act very much like mosquito larva but look very different. I have captured two and I am keeping them to see what develops. The other person who posted this image was unsuccessful after posting his picture on ten sites. I will not simply eradicate any animal no matter how small unless it is harmful. West Nile is active in my area so mosquitos are sentenced to death immediately but I want to give these little buggers a chance.
Signature: All life (unless it sucks blood) lover

Mosquito Pupa
Mosquito Pupa

Dear All life (unless it sucks your blood) lover,
Your remedy might have gotten rid of the Mosquito Larvae, but it did not eliminate the next stage in the metamorphosis process, the Mosquito Pupae.  This is a Mosquito Pupa, sometimes called a Tumbler, while the larvae are called Wrigglers.

Solved my own riddle!  They are Mosquito pupae and I imagine because they do not eat at this stage they are immune to the bacterial larvacide.  Luckily there are only a few that reached this stage and I am hunting them down with my trusty Turkey baster!  Love your site!  Thank you so much for the reply, I poked around on the internet and found an answer.  I am hunting these things down individually with a turkey baster and putting them into a jar with bleach.  Thank you so much for the reply.  I and my children use your site constantly.  Thank you again!

We fully understand your war on bloodsuckers.  Here at the offices of WTB?, we catch Mosquito Larvae and Pupae and feed them to our Angelfish.

Letter 4 – Mosquito Larvae Control

 

Mosquito Larvae control
August 3, 2010 2:05 pm
I love your website and am a huge insect fan and I know that you are against the kill of insects but I am not sure how you feel about mosquitos. We have storm drains in our backyard to prevent flooding of our yard and basement. we just returned from a trip to Florida and I have noticed there are mosquito larvae in the storm drains in some water in the drains. I am curious, is there a natural way to dispose of the larvae without polluting the water in the storm drains or hurting killing other insects in the area? Would dish detergent added to water then dumped in the drains do the trick or are more drastic measures needed? any info you can provide me with is greatly apprecatiated and please keep up the great work. i try to preach to friends and family not to squish every bug the see but I feel like I am fighting a losing battle
Ryan Hoffman

Mosquito Larvae

Hi Ryan,
Your situation poses some interesting challenges.  In warm weather, Mosquitoes can mature in a very short span of time.  Obviously, draining the water is the ideal solution because without the stagnant water habitat, they will not proliferate.  Mosquito Fish are used as vector control in many places where there are ponds and other bodies of standing water, but your storm drains do not sound like they would be conducive to supporting vertebrate life.  In lieu of not having any natural predators that can eliminate the infestation, we believe your idea to use a mild dish detergent solution should help the situation.  As an aside, we are including a photo we recently took of Mosquito Larvae captured in our bird bath.  We feed them to our freshwater aquarium fish who gobble them up eagerly, but they must be netted at the source for that to be of any benefit.

Host specific Bacteria to target Mosquito Larvae
mosquito dunks…
Hi Daniel,
Just FYI for the person wanting to kill the mosquito larva…there are mosquito dunks that have a host specific bacteria in them (bti) that feeds on the larva of mosquitoes, but not other beneficial insects.  They can be used in ponds as well to keep the mosquito population under control.
From the Valent BioSciences Corp website…
VectoBac®/Bactimos® – VectoBac and Bactimos, naturally occurring larvicides based on Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, control certain pests from the order diptera. Around the world, VectoBac and Bactimos are routinely used to control populations of mosquito and black fly larvae, which are primarily nuisances in the U.S., but also transmit life-threatening diseases like encephalitis, malaria, dengue and onchocerciasis (river blindness) in other parts of the world. VectoBac and Bactimos have the ability to eliminate 95-100% of all black fly and mosquito larvae – quickly and effectively.
VectoBac and Bactimos are Bti larvicides sold by Valent BioSciences Corporation. Biological testing has shown VectoBac and Bactimos to be two of the most ecologically friendly insecticides in use today. These products kill larvae of mosquitoes but do not adversely affect other wildlife or beneficial insects, or more importantly, people or pets.
Liz

Letter 5 – Mosquito Project

 

My Mosquito Project
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
September 15, 2011 10:47 pm
Hey Bugman,
As we share a love for bugs and everything creepy crawly, I figured I’d share some of the photos I’ve taken during my Mosquito growing project. Our pool had become like a pond, and there were 1000’s of mosquito larvae swimming about. After learning about their process, I became so interested, I wanted to watch the whole thing, so I scooped some up, along with some algae and other things for them to eat in a jar and am having a LOT of fun watching this. I lost 90% of them when the cold snap hit, but the ones I have left are troopers and I actually have a few eggs left and a new one just hatched today, so here’s hoping 😉
Signature: Amanda Gorman

Mosquito Larvae

Hi Amanda,
Thanks so much for sending us your photos.  Do you release the adults?  Are you feeding the adults warm blood?  We are positively intrigued by your Mosquito Project, but we cannot imagine your neighbors are terribly amused.

Mosquito Pupa

Hey Daniel,
I’m glad you guys liked my pictures. I’m actually not doing anything SPECIAL with the mosquito larvae. I had so much fun watching them in the pool, so I learned about them. Then, once I learned about the process, I wanted to watch the whole thing, so I literally just rinsed out a jar and scooped water out of the pool and those were the lives I got. Mostly larvae, a few pupae, and some eggs!!! I put fresh plant life in the jar to create oxygen, and I add a fresh leaf here and there for fresh oxygen. BUT I scooped out a wad of algae from the bottom of the pool so they had a good start on food, and then the jar sits in the sun, so it grows new algae every day. On cloudy days, I add just a little algae from the pool. As far as adults, like I said, it’s just a jar outside, so I’m just letting nature take it’s course. They will fly away when they are ready. I started this last Sunday and at the time between pupae, larvae, and newly hatched eggs (NEARLY microscopic) I had roughly 50 specimens. Then Tuesday morning we started our cold snap here in MI and I lost 80% of them. It seemed I had 9 strong ones that were troopers. 5 full grown larvae, 2 juvenile larvae from Monday, a TINY larvae that had JUST hatched, and ONE pupa. HOWEVER, it was SUPER cold last night and I lost even MORE. I am down to 5 I think. My pupa is gone too, which sucks….but I have eggs, I just doubt they will hatch in this weather.  I sent you all an identification request about a bug that was living with the mosquito larvae in the pool and skitters along the bottom. When I put some fresh algae in today, i must have picked up two of these guys, b/c now I have THEM living in the jar as well, so I attached 2 pictures of this bug in addition to the one I attached to my original identification request. It’s driving me nuts that I cannot figure out what this creature is.
I am having a lot of health issues so I cannot work right now, so this has been an AMAZING occupation of my mind and time. If nothing else this “project” prolongs their life SOME b/c otherwise they would have just all gone when the water drains out and the pool gets vacuumed.
I apologize this response is so long, it’s just no one else I know likes bugs enough for me to tell all the details to, so I got kinda carried away! 🙂 Thanks for what you guys do!!!

Dragonfly Larva

Hi again Amanda,
Thank you for supplying additional information on the scope of your Mosquito project.  The new insect you submitted is a predatory Dragonfly Naiad, and perhaps it is responsible to the losses in your Mosquito Larvae due to predation.

Thx so much!! It was driving me crazy I didnt know what this bug was. I attriibute a combo of the dragonfly naiad and the cold to losing my little wigglers, but such is the circle of life. Im def gonna do this EARLY next summer!!

 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Mosquito Larvae

 

Subject: what is this
Location: south carolina
June 4, 2015 7:10 am
I found these in my dogs water bowl. I thought they were tadpoles until I took a closer look. Any ideas?
Signature: megan

Mosquito Larvae
Mosquito Larvae

Hi Megan,
Out of curiosity, how often do you change your dog’s water?  These are Mosquito Larvae and they are generally found in stagnant water.

I normally change it daily, but last week was crazy and I missed a couple of days…never again. Thank you for letting me know what they are. They have been in a jar for 3 days (and are now disposed of).

Letter 2 – Mosquito Larvae from Australia

 

Subject: Spikey Black inch long larvae/caterpillars?
Location: Sydney, Australia, NSW
April 4, 2017 4:41 am
So a friend of mine found these larvae(?) in his fish pond, dozens of them, they breathe through a snorkel and are almost an inch long. I have yet to see them in person, but I don’t seem to be able to find anything that fits closely and hes never had them before. Maybe of note is that we have had a lot of rain lately so perhaps they are thriving because of all of the fresh rainwater and his pond only has floating duckweed and salvinia. Does he need to be worried about his smaller baby fish if these are carnivorous?
Signature: Ashton

Mosquito Larvae

Dear Ashton,
What kind of fish does your friend have?  We would think fish would gobble up these Mosquito Larvae.  Your friend might want to consider adding some Mosquito Fish to the pond to help eliminate these aquatic larvae that will eventually become blood-sucking, flying Mosquitoes.   Here is a Getty Images image to support our identification.  Here is a larval comparison image from NSW Arbovirus Surveillance & Vector Monitoring Program.  Mosquito Larvae are commonly called Wrigglers.

Thank you for the photo references.
He has koi fish which logically should be eating them.
Its weird though ive never seen wrigglers as large as he was telling me as i personally collect them to feed to my aquarium fish at home. What he explained was that they were the size of grubs. Hes collected wrigglers for his smaller fish for years and has never had ones like these so maybe theyre from a different species of mosquitoe to usual.

Update:  April 10, 2017
On second look, they look a lot like the culex variety. Will have to research mosquitoe varieties in my local sydney area.

Letter 3 – Mosquito Pupa

 

Subject: Unidentified larva in pond
Location: NNorthern Central Valley California.
March 14, 2014 10:09 am
I started a new frog pond and began seeing Mosquito larva. At first I hunted them down individually with a turkey baster and got rid of them until I suddenly had hundreds! I purchased a biological remedy safe for other wildlife and all the mosquito larva disappeared overnight thankfully. BUT there are some other larva that were unaffected. The behavior is similar to a mosquito larva as they wiggle underwater when I shine a flashlight on them but they are oval shaped when viewed from above as they keep their tailed curled underneath them. they have two tiny nubs of an antenna as well. I caught one and observed it (Too small for a picture really although I will make the attempt). But they resemble a small grammarian and most definitely have metallic green coloring as well as black. I put it right back into the pond thinking perhaps it may be a larva of something beneficial??? I absolutely love your site and use it often! Thanks!
I have already submitted this once but after poking around on the net I found a much better picture posted by someone from Colorado. I used a bacterial larvacide to get rid of the hundreds of mosquito larva in my newish pond yet these were unaffected. Behaviorally they act very much like mosquito larva but look very different. I have captured two and I am keeping them to see what develops. The other person who posted this image was unsuccessful after posting his picture on ten sites. I will not simply eradicate any animal no matter how small unless it is harmful. West Nile is active in my area so mosquitos are sentenced to death immediately but I want to give these little buggers a chance.
Signature: All life (unless it sucks blood) lover

Mosquito Pupa
Mosquito Pupa

Dear All life (unless it sucks your blood) lover,
Your remedy might have gotten rid of the Mosquito Larvae, but it did not eliminate the next stage in the metamorphosis process, the Mosquito Pupae.  This is a Mosquito Pupa, sometimes called a Tumbler, while the larvae are called Wrigglers.

Solved my own riddle!  They are Mosquito pupae and I imagine because they do not eat at this stage they are immune to the bacterial larvacide.  Luckily there are only a few that reached this stage and I am hunting them down with my trusty Turkey baster!  Love your site!  Thank you so much for the reply, I poked around on the internet and found an answer.  I am hunting these things down individually with a turkey baster and putting them into a jar with bleach.  Thank you so much for the reply.  I and my children use your site constantly.  Thank you again!

We fully understand your war on bloodsuckers.  Here at the offices of WTB?, we catch Mosquito Larvae and Pupae and feed them to our Angelfish.

Letter 4 – Mosquito Larvae Control

 

Mosquito Larvae control
August 3, 2010 2:05 pm
I love your website and am a huge insect fan and I know that you are against the kill of insects but I am not sure how you feel about mosquitos. We have storm drains in our backyard to prevent flooding of our yard and basement. we just returned from a trip to Florida and I have noticed there are mosquito larvae in the storm drains in some water in the drains. I am curious, is there a natural way to dispose of the larvae without polluting the water in the storm drains or hurting killing other insects in the area? Would dish detergent added to water then dumped in the drains do the trick or are more drastic measures needed? any info you can provide me with is greatly apprecatiated and please keep up the great work. i try to preach to friends and family not to squish every bug the see but I feel like I am fighting a losing battle
Ryan Hoffman

Mosquito Larvae

Hi Ryan,
Your situation poses some interesting challenges.  In warm weather, Mosquitoes can mature in a very short span of time.  Obviously, draining the water is the ideal solution because without the stagnant water habitat, they will not proliferate.  Mosquito Fish are used as vector control in many places where there are ponds and other bodies of standing water, but your storm drains do not sound like they would be conducive to supporting vertebrate life.  In lieu of not having any natural predators that can eliminate the infestation, we believe your idea to use a mild dish detergent solution should help the situation.  As an aside, we are including a photo we recently took of Mosquito Larvae captured in our bird bath.  We feed them to our freshwater aquarium fish who gobble them up eagerly, but they must be netted at the source for that to be of any benefit.

Host specific Bacteria to target Mosquito Larvae
mosquito dunks…
Hi Daniel,
Just FYI for the person wanting to kill the mosquito larva…there are mosquito dunks that have a host specific bacteria in them (bti) that feeds on the larva of mosquitoes, but not other beneficial insects.  They can be used in ponds as well to keep the mosquito population under control.
From the Valent BioSciences Corp website…
VectoBac®/Bactimos® – VectoBac and Bactimos, naturally occurring larvicides based on Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, control certain pests from the order diptera. Around the world, VectoBac and Bactimos are routinely used to control populations of mosquito and black fly larvae, which are primarily nuisances in the U.S., but also transmit life-threatening diseases like encephalitis, malaria, dengue and onchocerciasis (river blindness) in other parts of the world. VectoBac and Bactimos have the ability to eliminate 95-100% of all black fly and mosquito larvae – quickly and effectively.
VectoBac and Bactimos are Bti larvicides sold by Valent BioSciences Corporation. Biological testing has shown VectoBac and Bactimos to be two of the most ecologically friendly insecticides in use today. These products kill larvae of mosquitoes but do not adversely affect other wildlife or beneficial insects, or more importantly, people or pets.
Liz

Letter 5 – Mosquito Project

 

My Mosquito Project
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
September 15, 2011 10:47 pm
Hey Bugman,
As we share a love for bugs and everything creepy crawly, I figured I’d share some of the photos I’ve taken during my Mosquito growing project. Our pool had become like a pond, and there were 1000’s of mosquito larvae swimming about. After learning about their process, I became so interested, I wanted to watch the whole thing, so I scooped some up, along with some algae and other things for them to eat in a jar and am having a LOT of fun watching this. I lost 90% of them when the cold snap hit, but the ones I have left are troopers and I actually have a few eggs left and a new one just hatched today, so here’s hoping 😉
Signature: Amanda Gorman

Mosquito Larvae

Hi Amanda,
Thanks so much for sending us your photos.  Do you release the adults?  Are you feeding the adults warm blood?  We are positively intrigued by your Mosquito Project, but we cannot imagine your neighbors are terribly amused.

Mosquito Pupa

Hey Daniel,
I’m glad you guys liked my pictures. I’m actually not doing anything SPECIAL with the mosquito larvae. I had so much fun watching them in the pool, so I learned about them. Then, once I learned about the process, I wanted to watch the whole thing, so I literally just rinsed out a jar and scooped water out of the pool and those were the lives I got. Mostly larvae, a few pupae, and some eggs!!! I put fresh plant life in the jar to create oxygen, and I add a fresh leaf here and there for fresh oxygen. BUT I scooped out a wad of algae from the bottom of the pool so they had a good start on food, and then the jar sits in the sun, so it grows new algae every day. On cloudy days, I add just a little algae from the pool. As far as adults, like I said, it’s just a jar outside, so I’m just letting nature take it’s course. They will fly away when they are ready. I started this last Sunday and at the time between pupae, larvae, and newly hatched eggs (NEARLY microscopic) I had roughly 50 specimens. Then Tuesday morning we started our cold snap here in MI and I lost 80% of them. It seemed I had 9 strong ones that were troopers. 5 full grown larvae, 2 juvenile larvae from Monday, a TINY larvae that had JUST hatched, and ONE pupa. HOWEVER, it was SUPER cold last night and I lost even MORE. I am down to 5 I think. My pupa is gone too, which sucks….but I have eggs, I just doubt they will hatch in this weather.  I sent you all an identification request about a bug that was living with the mosquito larvae in the pool and skitters along the bottom. When I put some fresh algae in today, i must have picked up two of these guys, b/c now I have THEM living in the jar as well, so I attached 2 pictures of this bug in addition to the one I attached to my original identification request. It’s driving me nuts that I cannot figure out what this creature is.
I am having a lot of health issues so I cannot work right now, so this has been an AMAZING occupation of my mind and time. If nothing else this “project” prolongs their life SOME b/c otherwise they would have just all gone when the water drains out and the pool gets vacuumed.
I apologize this response is so long, it’s just no one else I know likes bugs enough for me to tell all the details to, so I got kinda carried away! 🙂 Thanks for what you guys do!!!

Dragonfly Larva

Hi again Amanda,
Thank you for supplying additional information on the scope of your Mosquito project.  The new insect you submitted is a predatory Dragonfly Naiad, and perhaps it is responsible to the losses in your Mosquito Larvae due to predation.

Thx so much!! It was driving me crazy I didnt know what this bug was. I attriibute a combo of the dragonfly naiad and the cold to losing my little wigglers, but such is the circle of life. Im def gonna do this EARLY next summer!!

 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

2 thoughts on “Bugs That Look Like Mosquitoes: An Intriguing Guide to Common Imposters”

  1. Amanda, you should get a seamonkey setup. Seriously THEY ARE THE COOLEST, the best is when they actually reproduce. Watching the pregnant ones grow little baby bumps and see the whole process is amazing!

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  2. If you have mosquito larvae in a pot that is 3ft tall & 2ft diameter: circular. Pot holds small flowers. Holes were not drilled in it to drain and it is filled above the soil all the way to the top with water so the dirt is also soaked. looks like over a hundred mosquito larvae swimming around in that! I just found someone to Drill 5 holes at btm to drain it. But draining SLOWLY. advice to kill live ones if no bug killing spray…? This is at a senior citizen building!:-(

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