What male mosquitoes eat

By Jackie DavisJackie Davis



The Question

I’ve heard that male mosquitoes don’t drink blood. What do they eat? —Marvin Ludwig, via e-mail

The Answer

Actually, both male and female mosquitoes eat the same things—nectar, plant sap, or honeydew (a sticky substance excreted by aphids)—for energy. But only female mosquitoes imbibe a blood meal, says entomologist Joseph Conlon of the American Mosquito Control Association in New Jersey. The females need the protein in blood platelets to develop eggs.

Some mosquito species have host preferences and, like today’s vampire boyfriends, don’t blood feed on humans. In fact, according to Doug Currie, entomology curator at the Royal Ontario Museum, some species (about eight out of 75 in Canada) don’t take blood at all—the females need only a carbohydrate meal to make eggs. Though not common in Canada, one such species, Toxorhynchites, has been bred elsewhere as a biological control for certain blood-sucking mosquitoes, because its larvae eat the larvae of other mosquitoes.

Unfortunately, says Conlon, “using Tox as a control methodology has never quite panned out.” For one thing, since the larvae are cannibalistic, that makes large-scale rearing extremely difficult and expensive. “They tend to eat each other too.”


Published in the June 2011 issue of Cottage Life.


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Jul. 17, 2011

9:48 pm

So what d they eat when we aren't around?

Temagami bound

Jul. 11, 2011

1:55 pm

I've also heard that taking Vitamin B helps keep the mosquitoes and blackflies at bay if you start about 3 weeks prior to heading out to the cottage, or the backwoods.


Jul. 6, 2011

11:46 am

i have heard that hunters purposely don't eat bananas from April til Oct to smell less attractive to mossies but then purposely eat a lot more citrus during the summer too


Jun. 17, 2011

2:58 pm

So many mosquitos. So few mammals. I've always wondered what becomes of the female mosquitos on my island. I mean, how far DO they fly? Could they really be flying between the mainland and my island, on a regular basis? There are just so many of them, yet almost no larger living things. We have one or two squirrels (although I haven't seen one this year), the occasional swim-up visitor (raccoon, porcupine, deer, bear, geese...although none of these stay), mice & voles, frogs, snakes, mosquito-eating bats, and that's about it. We're at the island maybe 10-20 days per year, on average. And there are always plenty of big, fat female mosquitos looking for blood. Do they always find a blood meal somewhere? How territorial are they?

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