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All About Mosquitoes

What Are (and Are Not) Mosquitoes

Characteristics of a mosquito:mosquito

Insects Commonly Mistaken for Mosquitoes

Crane Flies

crane flyCrane Flies (Tipulidae) vary in size from ¼ inch to as large as 1½ inches in length. The largest crane flies are sometimes called "daddy-long-legs", "gully nippers", or "mosquito hawks". However, they do not bite people and they do not eat mosquitoes. Some species of crane flies emerge from aquatic sources and others from terrestrial or decaying vegetation sources. Crane flies are not predacious and usually many times larger than a typical mosquito. Adults are strongly attracted to porch lights. The larvae live in loose soil or organic matter and feed on the roots of plants.


may flyMayflies (Ephemeroptera) can be quite abundant near creeks, flood control channels and other water sources throughout the United States. Their larvae are found in most aquatic habitats and can live in moving water. Adult mayflies are recognized by the way they hold their wings at rest and the presence of two or three long "caudal" filaments at the tip of the abdomen. Though not even closely resembling mosquitoes, their seasonal occurrence at porch lights and on the walls of buildings near their aquatic breeding sources invariably attracts the attention of some concerned residents. These annoying insects may fly into one's face, ears, hair, land on clothing, crawl behind eyeglasses and splatter car windshields. Mayflies do not bite or sting nor feed on homes, furnishings, food, etc.


midgesMidges (Chironomidae) are the most wide spread and numerous insects resembling mosquitoes. Adult Midges are commonly observed flying in swarms or "clouds", or are seen resting on fences, walls, under eaves and in protected areas such as porches and entryways. The larvae develop in sources having extensive areas of standing water.

Fungus Gnats

fungus gnatFungus Gnats (Sciaridae) are small (about ¼ inch long), black flies commonly found around decaying vegetation. They have large wings and long antennae, but they are weak flyers and do not move far from the breeding site. Fungus gnats occasionally become a nuisance indoors when adults emerge in large numbers as mosquito-like insects from potted plants or flower boxes containing damp soil rich in humus. Adults are attracted to lights and are often first noticed at windows.

Dance Flies

dance fliesDance Flies (Empididae) appear like mosquitoes by the way they swarm in sunlit areas in backyards and other sheltered situations. The vertical movements of the swarming adults gives them their common name. Larvae are usually found in rich, moist soil, decaying vegetable matter and in aquatic associations, or under the bark of trees.

Wood Gnats

wood gnatsWood Gnats (Anisopodidae) are some of the better known gnats, they are attracted to light and can be found near windows, especially in spring time. The adults can be found all year long, though. The larvae live in rotting plants and rotting plant parts, fermenting sap, animal manure, tree trunks, mud and sometimes sewage. Adults are found on foliage in or near damp places, some are found around flowing sap. They are sometimes seen in small swarms. Adults appear in two variations: greyish black or reddish.

**Information provided by AMCA (www.mosquito.org)

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