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20 Insects Similar to Mosquitoes

Macro shot of a biting mosquito on the skin surface.

One of the biggest pests in the United States is the mosquito. It makes its home in the humid and warm areas down South most of the year. Late in the evening and early morning when the sun starts to set, they will fly around and start to take bites out of those working, playing, or just enjoying the warm outdoors.

Once these pests reach maturity, the male mosquitoes dine on sugary fluids from plants while the females seek out blood meals. They are not the only pests flying around your face, taking a bite out of you here and there. Some insects you see look like mosquitoes but may actually be something completely different.

Other insects are not like the mosquito in appearance, but they share similar habits. You may be surprised by some of the insects that have similarities to the mosquitoes and what the differences are. 

1. Owl Midges

Owl Midges in the long grass.

Around the time mosquitoes are out and attempting to be dominant in the air, owl midges are also circling areas that are holding water. Both the mosquito and the owl midge have similarities in where they like to reside. Both of these insects enjoy stagnated water, water build-up, and anything that resembles a swamp.

When there is a water leak in the home, you are likely to find one or both of these insects nearby. One big difference between the two is their bodily texture. The mosquito is skinny and thin with longer wings.

The owl midge, however, has shorter and stocker wings that are thicker and not quite as translucent. The mosquito is also a stronger flier than the owl midge, which can only fly small distances. 

2. Mayflies

Macro shot of mayfly on a green background.

Another insect that finds residence near the water is mayflies. These actually look similar to mosquitoes, as they have large wings that are translucent, and they can fly pretty well with four wings. Like the mosquito, they enjoy an area with water nearby and will colonize these areas.

They do prefer warmer temperatures, especially in areas where the temperature is warm around the clock. They find bright lights to be a direct point of focus and will come in large swarms towards the light at dusk. It is important to note, though that these insects are essentially harmless since they do not feed on humans like the mosquito.

While both have small lifespans, the mayfly seems to be just a few days shorter.

3. Wood Gnats

Wood Gnat life on the meadow.

In the same swampy area where mosquitoes are making their homes, the wood gnats are also feeding on the rotting vegetation and grass in the area. They enjoy areas that stay wet and damp all the time. They are small and slim like the mosquito, but they have smaller wings.

They will start to swarm around you when you come outside close to their habitat. They are curious about bright lights and will come out in swarm groups to explore the new area. They are pests like mosquitoes, but they do not feed and have darker spots on their wings.

These wood gnats also do not live as long as mosquitoes, only surviving for a week at a time.

4. Crane Flies

Macro shot of three Crane Flies hanging in the air.

Probably the most confusing to the eye, the crane fly is often mistaken for mosquitoes. This is because they have a similar body type, they are just larger than a mosquito. If you think you have come across a super mosquito that has been feeding well, chances are it is just a crane fly.

They do not fly as well as the mosquito, often swaying and appearing off balance when flying through the air. They do not live more than a couple of days as adults and unlike mosquitoes, they do not feed once they reach adulthood. 

5. Crane Flies

Winter Crane Flies swarming the wound on the skin.

Larger than the average crane flies, winter crane flies are found in areas with lots of moisture, especially rotting trees and areas that are damp. They look like super mosquitoes but they seem to be more resistant to colder temperatures than the mosquito. You may find them flying around you while you are out in the fall working, but they are not feeding on you.

They, too, have a short lifespan like the mosquito and the crane fly, but since they stop eating as an adult, they only live for a few days after reaching maturity. These winter crane flies seem to hold residence in areas that are cooler than what mosquitoes like, living in caves that are cooler than the swamp temperatures preferred by mosquitoes.

6. Dance Flies

Mating Dance Flies on a white background.

A cousin of the mosquito, dance flies are related in the fact that they only have two wings like mosquitoes. Not all the insects related to mosquitoes share this similarly. However, what they prefer to eat and how they eat differ significantly.

The dance fly is attracted to sugary treats, so fruits and vegetables are their preferred food while mosquitoes feed off of sugar and human blood if they are female. While the mosquito will probe their food source for what they need, the fly does it a little differently. The dance fly will actually excrete some digestive juice on their food and then come back to digest it after it has broken down.

Unlike other flies, dance flies, take on random and scattered flight patterns, giving them their name. 

7. Fungus Gnats

A portrait shot of Fungus Gnats.

Another annoying pest that is found in the same environments as mosquitoes are the fungus gnats. They can come in all types of sizes, being super tiny to larger than a mosquito based on their diet. They enjoy areas with lots of fungi, including indoor plants that suffer from too much water.

They are not able to bite like mosquitoes, but they will certainly swarm and become as irritating as mosquitoes ever thought to be. When you find one fungus gnat, you find many, as they often travel in groups but they are harmless.

8. Horsefly

A horsefly perched on an adult's hand.

Another two-winged insect that is not only a pest but painful is the horsefly. They are larger than mosquitoes when it comes to thickness, but they share a lot of similarities. Their females, also, are the only ones out for blood and need it in order to develop eggs like the mosquito.

They are often competitors with mosquitoes, as the males of both species are fighting for nectar and other sweet excretions from plants to survive. When bitten by either mosquito or a horsefly, expect swelling and pain to come in the next few days. Both the horsefly and the mosquito share one last similarity, and that is their lifespan.

Both of these insects can live anywhere from one to two months at a time. 

9. Caoborid Gnats

Caoborid Gnats in a daisy full of drops of morning dew.

The translucent appearance that mosquitoes have is also shared by caoborid gnats. Like the mosquito, they are growing their larvae in water, giving them ample resources so that they can grow into pestering adults that spend their time hovering above the water. Like mosquitoes, they are summer pests because they will not leave the water and while they will not bite, they will swarm and make you uncomfortable until you leave the area. 

10. Chiggers

Red bug mite Chigger walks around the small rocks.

There is one insect that is similar to the mosquito, but it never goes in the air. Red bugs or chiggers, as they are known, live near water and will bite like the mosquito. When they bite, they are not actually seeking blood for food like the mosquito, but the skin cells are what they prefer.

They will also hide in tall grass, so if you are out in the wild during the summer months, you need to make sure you have long pants on. They do come in large numbers like mosquitoes, and they prefer similar environments which is where much of their similarities come in. 

11. Dixid Midges

A little Dixid Midges on portrait shot.

Another flying insect similar to the mosquito is the dixid midge. This insect looks almost identical to the mosquito, with long legs, two wings, and a translucent appearance. They like to find homes in areas where there are gardens and other vegetation growing.

They have a similar lifespan to the mosquito, making it almost a week as an adult. They prefer to come out right at sunset, competing for food with mosquitoes. While many of the dixid midges can live a month or longer, they often do not make it past that point due to competition and larger insects preying on them in these environments. 

12. Fleas

Close up macro shot of a sand flea.

They bite, jump, and are super pesty. Fleas have some similarities to mosquitoes and a few differences. The flea likes to reside on animals, so those with pets have to keep their animals treated regularly.

They will bite your animals, feeding off of their blood, and have been known to also bite humans, just as female mosquitoes. Like mosquitoes, fleas have the ability to transfer diseases because they bite multiple hosts throughout their lifetime, giving the disease through the bite. There are at least four different types of fleas that are found based on the type of animal.

They prefer cats, dogs, squirrels, and rats, with each having its own subtype of these pests. While only the adult mosquitoes feed on blood, both larvae and adult fleas use blood as their main food source. 

13. Biting Midges

Biting Midges on a green surface.

While some of the midges that have been mentioned do not partake in biting their hosts, there are some species that do need blood meals for survival, which is similar to the mosquito. Like the mosquito, these biting midges will bite anything that has blood, including humans, pets, livestock animals, and wildlife. They will also go from host to host, if necessary.

Since they will transfer from host to host, they are a risk of carrying diseases, like the mosquito. The difference between the two insects is really the difference in looks and their size. These biting midgets are less than 3 mm in most cases. 

14. Chironomid Midges

Chironomid Midges on a vertical shot.

Usually found in large groups or swarms are the chironomid midges. They are the same color as mosquitoes, but they are lacking the scales on their wings to improve their flying abilities. They have the ability to withstand various conditions and environmental factors like factory pollution and wildfire smoke.

They are not able to bite like the mosquito, so you do not have to worry about swollen bites from this insect. They are very persistent when they swarm, however, so you want to prepare yourself for an unwanted nuisance. They are also out at the same time as the mosquitoes.

These midges can live anywhere from a few weeks to a year provided they have good circumstances and limited predators in their environment. 

15. Body lice

Raw image of lice in hair and comb.

While they do not fly like mosquitoes, body lice can be a significant unwanted pest. They are as resilient as mosquitoes, fighting against pesticides and enjoying meals of human blood. Body lice can be hard to treat if you do not only clean your body but also treat your home so that the lice is destroyed and eliminated.

The bites that they leave on your body are painful and will swell very much like mosquito bites. Typhus can be transferred through body lice and cause significant skin irritation. Body lice has a shorter life span than mosquitoes, living no longer than 30 days. 

16. Fire ant

Red fire ant in nature.

There are some of those species that fly, but one of the most painful bites you can get is a fire ant bite. While fire ants attack like mosquitoes, the reasoning behind a fire ant attack is different than that of a mosquito. The fire ant will attack because it feels threatened and the mosquito bites because it needs the blood for eggs.

When you are bitten by a fire ant, some poison will excrete out into your wound. In a few days, you will see the bump come to a head, which is a puss pocket of the poison. Mosquitoes, however, do not transfer poison in their bites, just diseases in some cases.

While a mosquito can live between one to two months, fire ants have the potential to live anywhere from two to five years.  

17. Wasp

Side view of a yellow jacket wasp on hive.

The wasp does not like a wet or mildewy environment like the mosquito, but they do fly and sting. There are stingers on the wasp similar to the mosquito that penetrates the skin and causes significant pain. These bites go deeper than a mosquito and can cause a reaction if you are allergic to wasps.

Physically, the wasp is more short and more round than a mosquito and they live in hives with other wasps. Unlike mosquitoes, they do not go out looking to be pests but bite when they feel threatened or attacked. Wasps can live anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on their environment and colony size. 

18. Head lice

Close-up of a Head lice infestation.

Head lice are similar to mosquitoes and body lice, as they prefer to feed off of human blood. Head lice, however, have a preferred environment on the human head, hiding in the hair no matter the condition. This is a very different environment from the mosquito.

Both of these insects have the ability to cause lots of itching, irritation, and pain from the bites. However, head lice do not spread diseases like body lice or mosquitoes. Like the mosquito, the head louse adults are translucent and hard to see.

They do not fly like mosquitoes.

19. Yellow Jacket

Yellow jacket sitting on a stem.

Like the mosquito, the yellow jacket is a pretty strong flier. When it is time to go on the attack, the yellow jacket is ready to sting and can cause a bite that is large and swollen like mosquito bites. The difference between the yellow jacket and the mosquito is the reason for the bite.

The mosquito is biting to complete a reproduction task, getting blood in the bite. Yellow Jackets may draw blood, but they are not actively seeking it. Instead, they are biting as a way to attack and send a warning.

In many cases, they can start to attack as a group, getting you multiple bites in a matter of seconds. They are strong fliers, probably more sturdy than mosquitoes. They also have a longer lifespan of 22 days.

They are often predators of mosquitoes and will also wait to come out in dark to capture mosquitoes looking for a host.

20. Bed Bugs

Bed bug close-up on the skin.

A true pest that lives inside your home is bed bugs. These bugs do not fly, but they do attack and have a taste for blood meals like mosquitoes. They are resilient to treatment like mosquitoes and populate rather quickly.

Compared to other insects and mosquitoes, they have a real significant lifespan, living anywhere from 10 months to a year in the right conditions. The warmer the home and environment, the better the chance they have of survival. Like the mosquito, the bed bug will take blood from any host in the environment, which can be humans or pets who are living inside the home.

Like the mosquito, the blood is essential so that they can lay eggs and maintain that reproduction cycle.