Do Martin Birds Eat Mosquitoes?

Martin birds do eat some mosquitoes, but they do not eat 2,000 mosquitoes a day as the myth suggests. Martin birds are active during the day, while mosquitoes are active at night and in the early morning before the sun rises. Martin birds and mosquitos rarely cross paths.

Martins are known for their violet color, which shimmers with flashes of blue, purple, and even green in the midday sun. They are dynamic birds, catching almost all of their prey in flight. Always on the move, you will see them plunging down from beyond your vision in pursuit of an insect. Martins are not easily startled, making them great birds for humans to observe.

According to a famous myth, Martins eat 2,000 mosquitoes daily, so many people try to attract these birds to their homes. But is that myth true? Could you imagine if it was? Who wouldn’t want to live in a land free of obnoxious mosquitoes? Time to get rid of that bug spray and citronella candle, right?

Not yet, because this claim is largely untrue, no matter how exciting of an idea it may be.

Will a Martin House Ward Off Mosquitoes?

You may still be thinking, why not throw together a Martin house to see for yourself? Worst case scenario, you’ll at least get a family of Martins to keep you company.

However, if you’re hoping this will result in never dealing with a mosquito again, you will likely be disappointed. Even if Martins were the mosquito slayers they are touted as, if you put out a few nest boxes, it still wouldn’t help you. Martins have feeding habits that would end up helping your neighbor more than they would help you.

Martins like to feed far away from their homes. This is a simple instinct to avoid predatory birds that may hunt them and their young.

Wild animals are most vulnerable when eating or sleeping, so Martins wisely choose to separate these two activities.

It’s not uncommon for these birds to travel long distances during the day to find food so as not to attract predators to the homes they’ll return to that night. It makes sense for the bird’s survival, but it will not help you eradicate your mosquitoes.

So you should encourage your neighbors to put out some nest boxes then, right? You still won’t get the desired result due to a few other factors we’ll discuss.

Are Martins “Night Owls”?

Everyone has a friend who comes alive at night. Maybe they’re a musician or a bartender, or maybe they just enjoy the quiet of the twilight hours.

Anyone who enjoys outdoor activities knows that late in the evening and early in the morning is when you’re prone to mosquito bites.

Since the hot sun can dehydrate them, most mosquito species will stay hidden in the weeds during the day. They’ll choose to rest in tall grass, preferably close to some water. The more humid, the better. This allows mosquitos to snack on plant sugars and conserve energy for their night of feeding on humans.

Martins are not on the same schedule as mosquitos. They stick to their circadian biology. If they were human, they wouldn’t be much fun on weekends. Just as the night got started, you’d see them darting home to make it back to their nest before the last traces of daylight fled from the sky.

Due to the strict nature of their habits, mosquitoes and Martins are unlikely to cross paths as often as you would hope. If they do, it’s certainly not enough for the Martins to eradicate mosquitoes from your home.

Where Do Mosquitoes Hang Out?

You don’t need to do any serious research to answer this question. If you’ve spent any time outside, you know where these bothersome bugs like to live. One night by the campfire and you’re sure to have itchy bites around your knees and ankles.

While mosquitoes can fly high, they prefer to linger close to the ground. Why wouldn’t they? The sugars they need are stored in the plants on the ground, and their main feeding source is humans.

Martins are the opposite. They are usually seen darting and diving through the air. The majority of their feeding is done while airborne, too. This just adds to the idea that they won’t feed on many mosquitoes.

Now it’s not to say that they won’t come across a few throughout the day, but their eating habits would make it hard to gobble up the 2,000 mosquitoes that the myth purports.

Attracting Martin Birds Could Make Mosquito Problems Worse

Martins do not eat enough mosquitoes to make a difference, and one of their favorite snacks may even make things worse.

Like most birds, insects make up the bulk of their diet. Flying insects, to be more specific. This includes wasps and bees, flies, moths, and butterflies.

The other most common prey is especially important to note: dragonflies! One of the dragonfly’s favorite snacks is the mosquito! It doesn’t take an environmental scientist to see where this is going.

With a family of Martins soaring about, snatching up all the dragonflies around your home, the mosquitoes may just run wild. This isn’t a guarantee, but if your goal is to neutralize your mosquito problem, you’d want to avoid anything that moves the needle in the other direction.

Unfortunately, it seems like a family of Martins may do more harm than good in this endeavor. Perhaps if you’re really looking to solve your mosquito problem, dragonflies are your answer! For all that they are, these purple-winged swallows are not going to rid you of your mosquitoes.

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