Natural mosquito control is often proposed as an alternative to sprays and mists. If you check out forums relating to controlling mosquitoes, you often see people claiming that natural predators such as bats, birds and fish more effective than using mosquito sprays or mists.
These claims are not based on fact but on opinion or wishes. Here are some facts relating to natural mosquito control versus using insecticides. Keep in mind that you have little control over the presence of natural predators in your yard, other than the fish with which you might stock your pond.
Bats as a Means of Atlanta Mosquito Control
I have read many forum posts suggesting that bats are an effective way of controlling mosquitoes in Atlanta and elsewhere. Let’s ignore for the moment that you cannot buy bats and set them free in your yard, hoping that they will eat all the mosquitoes. That will not happen! Apart from that, there is no evidence at all that bats reduce mosquito populations to any significant extent.
A study was published in 1960 (1) stating that bats can consume 10 mosquitoes every minute. This was extrapolated to 600 every hour for each bat. The weakness here is that the bats under study were released into a closed room filled with mosquitoes. In the wild there are more insects than just mosquitoes for bats to eat at night. Among their potential prey are insects such as the moths they prefer, and also flies, spiders and others.
Another study using the pellets of wild bats (2) indicated that mosquitoes are not a significant part of the small brown bat’s diet. This species is common in Georgia, and the pellets indicated a diet of 71% moths, 16.8% spiders and only just under 2% mosquitoes. The other 10% or so comprises a mix of other insects and bugs.
Relying on bats to control mosquitoes is not a viable means of mosquito control in Atlanta or anywhere else. Apart from the fact that you cannot force bats to live close to your home, they prefer moths to the relatively small mosquitoes and have very little effect on mosquito populations.
Natural Atlanta Mosquito Control by Birds
Birds, particularly the Purple Martin, are said to be effective in controlling mosquitoes. This is another myth. Somebody estimates that a purple martin can eat 2,000 mosquitoes every day. This statement was not based upon any investigation into the martin’s eating habits – we could equally say that South Korean, Sonya Thomas, can eat 65 hard boiled eggs in 6 mins 40 secs (3), and so over 14,000 every day! Luckily for her, boiled eggs are not her natural diet.
Purple martins do not control mosquitoes, and neither does any other type or martin or even any other bird. If these natural predators were effective, why do we have so many mosquitoes ruining our yard activities every year? Even if they were effective, if you managed to find these birds or bats, and introduced them to your yard, do you think they would stay? Of course not! They would return to their natural environment. It’s not viable as a means of Atlanta mosquito control.
Using Fish to Control Mosquito Wrigglers
‘Wrigglers’ are mosquito nymphs or larvae. Many fish have a liking for them, but how many of the mosquitoes in your yard grew up in a pool or pond large enough to hold a stock of fish? If fish were so effective, why is it that most mosquitoes in Atlanta breed in riverbanks, ponds and wetlands?
Natural Mosquito Control: Conclusion
Quite frankly, if natural predators were able to control mosquito populations why don’t they? Why do we have so many mosquitoes in spite of natural predators? The answer is that yes, bats and martins eat mosquitoes and fish eat the larvae. But they don’t consume enough of them to make much of a difference!
The only genuine way to remove mosquitoes from your yard is to use sprays and mists, namely Mr. Mister ClearzoneTM mosquito spray and our automatic mosquito misting system. The insecticide sprays used by Mr. Mister include permethrin, a synthetic form of a natural substance known as pyrethrum that is used in shampoos and for protecting pets from mosquito bites. It is also biodegradable, disappearing from your yard in around 21 days. In addition to that, we have a 100% natural spray that will need to be reapplied every 14 days. Do not rely on natural mosquito control, because natural predators do not consume enough mosquitoes fast enough!
- Griffin D.R., Webster F. A, and Michael C. R. 1960. The echolocation of flying insects by bats. Animal Behavior 8: 141-154.
- John O. Whitaker, William John Hamilton: Journal of Mammalogy 73:646–648 and Mammals of the Eastern United States. Cornell University Press (ISBN 0-8014-3475-0)