Polk County Conservation

Purple Martin House

  • I was thinking about putting up a purple martin house on my property because I’ve heard they eat a lot of mosquitoes. I thought it would be an environmentally friendly way to get rid of mosquitoes in my yard. My husband thinks it’s a crazy idea, what do you think?

    I appreciate you searching for an environmentally friendly way to rid your yard of mosquitoes, but purple martins aren’t the answer. The notion that purple martins are mosquito eating machines has been widely circulated by purple martin house manufacturers for years. There have been numerous studies on the diet of purple martins and the studies revealed martins prefer larger insects such as dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, katydids, mayflies, cicadas, beetles, flies, wasps, midges, and flying ants.

    Why don’t purple martins eat mosquitoes? The amount of energy a martin expends in capturing a single large insect like a dragonfly is minimal compared with the energy it would require to capture hundreds of mosquitoes that would equal the same amount of food as the single dragonfly. Martins and mosquitoes rarely cross paths since they fly at different heights and at different times of day. Rather than erecting a martin house to attract these insect eating birds for mosquito control, you should install one if you enjoy watching these birds and want to provide them a place to live.

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    Administration Office
    12130 NW 128th St
    Granger, IA 50109

    P: (515) 323-5300
    F: (515) 323-5354

    Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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