Mosquitoes vs. Greenheads — What’s the Difference?

The comparison of mosquitoes to greenheads is actually stark; however, there are similarities. Both are biting insects, but their bites are quite different. The bite from a mosquito is akin the bite of a small puppy. The bit of a greenhead is more like having your arm ripped off by a bull mastiff. It is the bite of both of these annoying insects that plague humankind. They are both diptera which means they are both flies. Their mouth parts are very different. Both pests use an anticoagulant to keep blood from clotting. That is what itches. The mosquito uses a needle-like stylet and gently pierce your skin. They drink your blood through what is essentially a straw. The greenheads use something akin to a pair of scissors. They rip open a wound, slicing through every vein and capillary in the process to create a pool of blood. So while they are the same, they are also quite different. Mosquitos predominantly prefer hunting at night and Greenheads during the day.

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Controlling Greenheads and Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes spend part of their lifecycle as aquatic insects in shallow pools in salt marshes and bogs in wooded areas. Greenheads spend part of their lifecycle burrowing through the moist, rich soil of salt marshes. This is a primary reason why mosquito abatement programs do not affect greenhead and other horseflies. Mosquito abatement treats standing water. The horsefly reproductive cycle, including that of the brutal greenhead, takes place in a very different environment even though it is in the same neighborhood. This is one of the reasons that it is so difficult to treat horsefly populations. In fact, humanity has tried and failed to kill off greenheads with pesticides. Horseflies are rugged tanks with wings that insecticides are not very effective in controlling. How then do you control greenheads if you cannot use pesticides? The only real option is an ingenious invention called the fly cage. As a tool, it mimics some of the things that attract greenheads to their victims. It is large, dark colored, and has a bit of movement to it. The process is mechanical rather than chemical. Horseflies and greenheads swoop in for a blood meal and never return.

How Are Mosquitoes and Greenheads Alike?
Oddly, for as different as the two pests are, they share a similarity. The females of both species do the biting. When they are ready to lay eggs, both the female mosquito and the female horsefly need red blood. The protein in the blood helps in their reproductive process. Both species of females seek out humans, horses, sheep, goats, and other large animals on which to feed. Without that blood meal, neither insect can successfully reproduce. That is another reason why the Fly Cage is so successful. It mimics the victims of greenheads.
If you were counting on mosquito abatement to help rid your place of greenheads, you will be “sorely” disappointed – pun intended. We all know how painful greenhead season is to anything that stands still for half a second. There is help available.