What do Mosquitoes Eat?

All mosquitoes, both male and female feed from plants. They live off the sweet nectar and sugar-rich dew of fruits and vegetable flowers. Sugar from these plants will provide enough energy to keep them flying around and moving. Female mosquitoes, however, need to nurture their eggs and they can only do this by providing the baby mosquitoes with protein to eat. Since protein is lacking in sugar, they usually find protein from the blood of mammals. This is why they suck our blood and leaving little red marks when they leave. I bet you didn’t know there are tons of other food sources when it come to mosquitoes, in fact, they will actually consume tiny insects if given the chance.

Meals for Mosquitoes

Typical mosquito diet of human blood

Human blood is the easiest to gulp down, since we are usually preoccupied with something else. They can bite us, inject some chemicals that will numb the area and quickly gather the blood they need to eat to feed their children. Other sources of protein-rich blood include cows, horses, dogs, cats, birds, and even some reptiles. Since humans have thin skin (at least compared to other hosts) and a huge surface area to choose from, they are the perfect target. If you start looking into the life cycle of a mosquito, you will realize there are two main times when the insect requires a food source. If you observe a mosquito very carefully, you will notice that it can also drink nectar and sweet honey from flowers and trees.

The adult female mosquito will then lay her eggs in a small body of standing water. If she is lucky and doesn’t get swatted at, she will continue this process many times throughout the duration of a summer. Only needing to mate once, since she will keep a reservoir of gametes, the chances of this process happening multiple times if one does not take proper precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

Mosquito Diet

Other than using the protein in blood to feed their babies, mosquitoes also feed on a majority of other plant specimens. Many nectar-bearing flowers offer a great source of food for them. While become a symbiotic relationship, the mosquito also pollinates many flowers in the mean time! You may have thought that their needle-like proboscises are used only for sucking blood, but they are also used to dig deep into a flower to drink the sweet juice.  After drinking the nectar, it travels to their stomach which contains two parts. One section digests simple sugars from flowers, and the other breaks down the blood into usable proteins. The second part of the stomach can expand to 10 times it’s original capacity to store the extra blood. If you are wondering what baby mosquitoes eat, they just thrive underwater and feed on the microorganisms that live in their environment. They have mouths that are specially designed to suck in the tiny living bacteria and other swimmers and they quickly digest them.

List of flowers that attract mosquitoes:

  • Sunflowers
  • Bluebells
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Sedums
  • Poppies
  • Roses
  • Goldenrod
  • Common Yarrows

The flowers they choose to eat and digest will change from seasons to season. Usually only the females survive the winter through hibernation and the males will die. Since the females ate extra protein, their bodies will be able to handle the harshly cold temperatures. As the sun starts to produce less UV rays, and the days get shorter, the mosquito genes change. Less and less protein is digest, and more fat-producing sugar is stored. This seems to be an evolutionary trait in mosquitoes so they can live through the winter and reproduce in the spring. Mosquitoes will eat the blood from humans as well as anything that is sweet and contains sugar.

In the wild, mosquitoes will eat and drink the nectar from all types of flowers. Females will land on a victim by following the trail of CO2 and sensing the heat. If she thinks she’s found an especially tasty vein or artery, the female mosquito will insert her proboscis and drink the blood until her stomach gut is completely full. Simply put, diseases aren’t transferred from the blood, but just the saliva, or mosquito spit. Little to many people know, mosquito larvae actually fee don microscopic particles while floating around in water. They start with a mouth that can suck in tiny organisms to feed on. Some species of mosquitoes even feed on tiny insects.

If you want to reduce the amount of mosquitoes around your house, consider removing these plants as well as any sugar water that may be left out. Mixing sugar water with soap will attract them, and since their stomachs can’t digest the soap, they will die. This is a very clean and easy way to kill mosquitoes without having to deal with all the dead mosquitoes laying around.