When summertime gets underway, it can be difficult to figure out what exactly is flying spastically around your face, into your nose, biting you, and giving you the best arm workout you’ve had in a while. When an insect is quickly darting all over your personal space, it’s easy to assume that pest is a mosquito, but don’t be so quick to judge. There are actually 7 insects commonly mistaken for mosquitoes.

Insects Commonly Mistaken for Mosquitoes

  1. Crane fly:  Ranging from.25 inch to a whopping 1.25 inches in length. These doppelgangers, which are sometimes referred to as “mosquito hawks”because they are somewhat larger than the typical mosquito, will actually not bite you at all. So that’s something to happy about.
  2. Mayflies: These insects have a great affinity for water and do not typically stray far from their water sources. Also, they hatch from spring to autumn, not just in May as their name might imply. Ranging from .12 to 1.18 inches in length, mayflies have notoriously short life spans compared to a mosquito’s life span (anywhere from a few hours to a couple days after emerging as an adult).
  3. Midge: Of the mosquito look-alikes, midges are the most numerous and widespread. Their numbers are so great that they are often seen in swarms, almost cloud-like forms. Unfortunately, they do bite. Midges live about seven days, typically, and just like mosquitoes, their larvae develop in large areas of stagnant water (learn more what attracts mosquitoes) And man do these insects have interesting love lives! Males will group together and form a cloud, intensely listening for any wing-beat frequencies of approaching females. This makes the male swarm incredibly sensitive to sound. If an onlooker should clap their hands or even speak, the swarm will make an erratic change in their swarm pattern.
  4. Fungus gnat: These winged creatures are much smaller, at about .079 to .197 inch long, and are most commonly found around decaying vegetation which is what their larvae feed upon. Even then, the adult fungus gnats only live two or three days. Most species are nonbiting. The dagger fly is also commonly mistaken for a mosquito. These insects have a large range of diversity, but are generally small to medium in size and particularly bristly, which is where they get their name. These flies tend to be a bit sly. Some species capture other insects in a frothy bag on their body and display them to attract female mates. Other species will forego with the froth altogether and just catch and display their live prisoners in front of their lady guests. Others, still, can enslave their prey with an empty ball of silk.
  5. Sand fly: is also a well-known biting pest. Most species feed on the blood of people commonly mistake them for mosquitoes. Specifically, only females are blood feeders; the males survive on the sugars of plant nectar or honeydew. Be extra careful of these pests. Instead of transmitting Zika Virus or dengue, these insects are known to transmit the following diseases: cutaneous leishmaniasis, visceral leishmaniasis, sand fly fever, Carrions disease, Pappataci fever, and the vesicular stomatitis virus.
  6. The dagger fly: Commonly mistaken for a mosquito. These insects have a large range of diversity, but are generally small to medium in size and particularly bristly, which is where they get their name. These flies tend to be a bit sly. Some species capture other insects in a frothy bag on their body and display them to attract female mates. Other species will forego with the froth altogether and just catch and display their live prisoners in front of their lady guests. Others, still, can enslave their prey with an empty ball of silk.
  7. Wood gnat: Attracted to light, wood gnats are generally found near windows, particularly in the springtime, though they are indeed active all year long. The larvae can live in a great variety of environments: rotting plants, fermenting sap, animal manure, tree trunks, mud, and even sewage.

There are many ways to keep mosquitoes and their look a likes away. Try these homemade mosquito traps, plants that repel insects, tea tree oil repellent, or natural insect repellent soap to keep all insects away during the summer heat!

 

References:

Biting Flies Illinois Department of Public Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.

Doucette, David.;Mosquito Mistaken Identity: These Flies Don't Bite – After Bite Insectlopedia.; After

Bite Insectlopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.

Mistaken Identities.; American Mosquito Control Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.

Sand Flies; Orkin. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2016.