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Mosquito-like Insects

There are several insects within the order Diptera (True flies) that closely resemble mosquitoes. The Solano County Mosquito Abatement District (SCMAD) frequently receives phone calls and service requests from the public regarding these mosquito look-a-likes. As a mosquito abatement district, our services exist to protect public health from nuisance mosquitoes and mosquito-borne disease in Solano County. Below is a list of various mosquito-like insects that are the usual suspects of the non-mosquito related complaints that we receive:

May contain: invertebrate, insect, animal, dragonfly, and anisoptera
Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

Crane Flies, also known as "mosquito-eaters" or "mosquito hawks" are often mistaken as mosquitoes. Adult crane flies possess no biting mouth parts and do not consume food at this stage of their lives.  Crane flies are attracted to artificial lights; they are often seen flying around the front doors of homes and also inside of houses. They do not eat mosquitoes, nor do they bite people or pets.

Non-biting midges (chironomids) resemble mosquitoes but are usually seen in “swarms.” The wings of these insects do not extend beyond the length of the body and they lack a proboscis. These flies occur in the same fresh water and brackish water environments as mosquitoes do, but they do not bite. They are attracted to porch lights and will often be seen in great numbers under the eaves of houses, porches, on cars, around street lights and other areas sheltered from the wind and sun. Although they may be attracted to people, they pose no threat to you or your pets.

May contain: insect, mosquito, animal, and invertebrate
Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

Fungus gnats (family Mycetophilidae) are another flying insect that resemble mosquitoes morphologically and behaviorally; however, they lack a proboscis. These insects are often found inside the home and thrive in the wet soil of houseplants. The adults are attracted to people, but pose no biting threat. They are generally a symptom of overwatered house plants.

No-see-ums or biting midges (Ceratopogonidae) are flies that inflict painful bites to people and animals. They are similar to mosquitoes in many ways: the immature life stage is aquatic, females require a blood meal, and they can also be vectors of parasitic nematodes among other diseases. They are generally very small (< 1/8”) and have very large wings in proportion to their stubby bodies. They lack a proboscis and instead have sawing mandibles.