Purple Martin – Don’t Control Mosquitoes

Q: Is it true that purple martins control mosquitoes? I am presently working in Bangladesh. It is the dry season here and mosquitoes are thick as molasses. I hate to think of the rainy season. This is the kind of foreign aid a poor country could really use: a simple, cheap way to improve public health.

A: I’m sorry but the ability of purple martins to control mosquitoes is a myth. According to theAmerican Ornithologists’ Union, a researcher analyzed more than two hundred stomachs of martins collected from February to September throughout the United States and Canada. He reported no mosquitoes in any of the stomachs. Most of the insects found were beetles, flies and butterflies. It makes sense that a voracious bird would prefer insects with some “meat on their bones” rather than tiny mosquitoes.

The situation with bats is much the same. According to Dr. Robert Corrigan, at Pest Control Technology magazine, bats consume all bugs, not bad bugs. They prefer moths and beetles, not midges and mosquitoes. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate both creatures and support their conservation. An effective mosquito repellent is still the best option for you and for the good people of Bangladesh.

American Ornithologists’ Union

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