Mosquitoes are quite the nuissance in many parts of the world. And since nobody likes their annoying buzzing, let alone their itchy bites, people tend to go on a killing spree at their very sight. But did you know that there are a lot of bugs that look like mosquitoes, which are not, in fact, mosquitoes?
Know Your Mosquitoes and Your Bugs
Just because a bug looks a certain way doesn’t mean that is definitely what you are looking at. There are many bugs that resemble one another. From a distance or under bad lighting conditions, it can be easy to mistake a particular bug for another more common one.
Knowing what type of insect you are dealing with is important if you want to keep things under control around and in your home. Some insects are not worth fighting too hard because they do little more than buzz around a bit of water in most circumstances.
How to Distinguish a Mosquito
Before we even begin to discuss the common bugs that look like mosquitoes, let’s resume our knowledge on how mosquitoes look. Here are their main distinguishable features:
- The proboscis – the elongated proboscis extends long and forward from mosquitoes mouth parts. It is the “organ” they use to suck your blood.
- The “humpback” body – female mosquitoes, when resting, do not touch surfaces with their bodies.
- The long, fringed wings – Mosquitoes’ wings are usually longer than their bodies and feature scales that give the edges a fringed look.
Looking like a mosquito can offer some advantages to insects in the wide world. Here are some of the many bugs that look like mosquitoes but are far from it.
2 Bugs That Look Like Mosquitoes the Most
As we said, there are plenty of insects looking like mosquitoes, but two of them are the most common doppelgangers you are likely to encounter in your everyday life.
1. Crane Flies
While these flies won’t bite you, they will cause a lot of trouble for your yard. Dead brown patches are a sign that you have a crane fly issue.
They look very similar to mosquitoes so beware.
Crane Flies vs. Mosquitoes
Here are some crane flies’ features you need to know if you want to differentiate between them and mosquitoes:
- Size: larger than a common mosquito, the crane fly (sometimes called “daddy-long-legs”) vary in size from size from 1/4 inch to up to 1 1/2 inches in length;
- Legs: very long, thin legs;
- Proboscis: most crane flies do not have a proboscis, but even if they do, they cannot bite you with it;
- Wings: crane flies have smooth wings, not fringed ones like mosquitoes;
- Body: when resting, a crane fly will keep its body straight to the surface in comparison to mosquitoes’ humpack appearance.
Keeping Crane Flies Away from You
If you want to eliminate crane flies, you should use an organic spray because birds feed on crane flies. In turn, they can become ill if they eat flies that have consumed or been exposed to nonorganic sprays.
Keep in mind that crane flies bring in birds to your home. Therefore, if you like seeing different species of birds you might consider leaving crane flies alone.
The midge is more like a gnat than a mosquito but on a first glance, you would swear it was a mosquito you are dealing with. Midges like water, particularly stagnant water. You may see a lot of midges around a single pool, just like mosquitoes. However, they do not bite and do not carry/transmit diseases.
Midges vs. Mosquitoes
But here are some elements that can help you make the difference between them easier.
- Size: smaller in size than mosquitoes;
- Legs: similar to those of mosquitoes;
- Proboscis: midges do not feature a proboscis;
- Wings: these insects have smooth-edge wings, as they do not present scales;
- Body: when resting, midges will keep their bodies straight, with their thorax close to the surface.
Keeping Midges Away from You
Ponds, fountains, and boggy places are all common places to find midges.
- Declogging pumps and getting the water flowing again so it does not stagnate is the best place to start.
- If you don’t want to buy a new pump, then consider getting rid of the water feature if you don’t want midges around.
Other Bugs that Look Like Mosquitoes
An owl midge is somewhat hairy looking and likes to live in shower drains, sewers, and other places where water is present. These midges look like small yet very hairy flies that don’t fly so well even though they can move quite fast.
- If you see this type of midge around your home, then you should take a glance around for signs of leaks.
- A leak in your plumbing that is caught soon is going to be a lot less hassle and money to fix than later on.
Keeping Owl Midges Away from You
- A soap spray or pouring a bit of bleach, vinegar, or oxygen cleaner in your drain can get rid of them.
- However, you still don’t want to overlook finding out why they were hanging around in the first place.
- Not all leaks are major ones. Look around rooms that have plumbing and feel for any signs of moisture.
These little insects are most commonly found in moist areas with a lot of vegetation.
Keeping Dixid Midges Away from You
You can prevent dixid midges by draining wet areas or encouraging fish and other predators.
- If you are getting a lot of them around your home, then you need to try to improve drainage.
Midges feed on algae and phytoplankton that is present in pools of water. You are most likely to see midges around ponds, swamps, lakes, creeks, and slow moving rivers.
Mayfly nymphs are distinguished from mosquitoes by their wings. A mayfly has more pronounced wings and you can find it near freshwater sources.
They are an important source of food for fish and other wild life, so it is good just to leave them alone if they are not causing you too much discomfort.
May flies can live in fairly fast moving streams and rivers, so you have likely seen a lot of them before, even if you didn’t realize it at the time.
- A mayfly has large compound eyes, short, bristle like antennae, and function-less mouth parts and digestive tracts after they reach the winged stage.
- They have a very short life span but play an important role in the ecosystem.
These gnats are hard to distinguish from the mosquito. They feed on plant roots and fungi. If you have a lot of wild mushrooms growing, or you grow your own, then you may have some trouble with these types of gnats.
Large numbers of fungus gnats on a plant can lead to it being weakened if the root system is not substantial enough to deal with being preyed upon.
- If you enjoy growing shiitake mushrooms or button mushrooms, you will want to get rid of these guys as soon as possible if you want a good crop.
This type of gnat is drawn to decaying organic matter. Compost piles are another common area to see them at.
- If you must compost, consider a closed barrel system to reduce the number of gnats.
- Alternatively, simply compost further away from your home, so gnats are not as much of an issue for you.
The dance fly is part of a large group of flying insects known as Empididae.
- These brown fliers are small but have a large thorax and long abdomen. Males are very easy to tell apart from females. They have a strange courtship ritual for such a simple insect.
- The male dance fly will present a female with a dead fly.
- After she feeds on the fly, they resume their courtship and breed.
These flies are impressive because there are so many types of them although the untrained eye will likely not notice this.
- The legs are much thicker and longer than that of a mosquito, so that is a feature to look for.
Moist soil and damp areas with decaying leaves and other organic matter are prime spots to find a dance fly population.
- If you see a suddenly large amount of them in a spot where there was none before, be sure to look for a source of water.
- Sometimes the flow of water changes underground, and this can cause wet spots to appear.
- This usually occurs when the water table is high, such as after a big storm or several days of rain.
These little guys may get in your hair or buzz around your food, but they don’t sting or carry the diseases and viruses that mosquitoes sometimes can.
- Wood gnats are heavily attracted to light, so you see them near windows or outside lighting quite often. These gnats are some of the most common.
The wood gnat larvae live in rotting and decaying plants and woody debris. Unhealthy and slightly rotting tree trunks are a prime place to find a population of wood gnats.
- Animal manure is another attractant, so if you keep any livestock or even just have a dog, good sanitation and predator insects can help discourage too many wood gnats from making an appearance.
Livestock can be very affected by wood gnats because they get in eyes and cause a lot of irritation. This can be very frustrating if you are trying to work with them or groom them.
- Commercial insect sprays for livestock can offer some immediate relief.
Avoid Mosquito Panic
Surely, mosquitoes are not pleasant and can cause some irritating stings and marks. Nevertheless, it is important to consider that the chances of them causing a very serious condition for you or an animal is very small statistically.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned and take measures to reduce populations. On the other hand, there is no need to get paranoid and scared every time you hear a buzzing sound near you.
With all the news one hears about Zika and West Nile Virus, it is all too easy to get worked up and afraid to spend time outdoors, especially in hotter climates where diseases have been reported.
Thousands Of Bugs That Look Like Mosquitoes
There are thousands of different insects in the dance fly family alone. Mosquitoes bite, so that is a major sign that you are dealing with them. Gnats and other look-alikes are mostly annoying with only some causing a lot of damage.
FAQs Regarding Bugs That Look Like Mosquitoes
The most common insects that look like mosquitoes are crane flies and midges.
Big mosquitoes – the male mosquitoes – are not dangerous, as they don’t bite. Only females need blood meals. Crane flies, also mistaken with big mosquitoes, are harmless, despite their look.