There are a host of insects that to the untrained eye can appear to be mosquitoes. It just so happens that few of these insects like to hang around our homes often in large numbers which can make the homeowner believe that he or she has a severe mosquito problem. Below is a list of the most common cases of mistaken identity when it comes to mosquitoes.
Crane flies (Tipulidae) are probably top on the list of insects commonly mistaken for mosquitoes. They are often falsely referred to as "mosquito hawks" but they do not bite people and they do not eat mosquitoes. These insects are not predacious and are usually much larger than a typical mosquito.
This species is usually the one to blame when we receive complaint calls that "huge mutant mosquitoes" are hanging around a person's home. Crane flies are strongly attracted to porch lights so it would be a good idea to use a yellow "bug" bulb or leave lights off if these insects are causing a nuisance.
Mayflies (Ephemeroptera) are another group of insects that are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes. Though they do not resemble mosquitoes as closely as some other insects, the fact that they breed in the same aquatic habitat as mosquitoes invariably draws attention to this species from concerned citizens.
Despite how they may look Mayflies do not bite or sting, in fact, they are very important to their local aquatic environment providing food for fish, dragonfly nymphs, and birds.
Non-biting Midges (Chironomidae) are one of the widest spread and most numerous insects that are often mistaken for mosquitoes. Adults are often seen in massive swarms or 'clouds" and as such are often a concern for residents who believe them to be mosquitoes.
This group of insects also includes certain species of gnats which can also easily be mistaken for mosquitoes, especially when they are in a mating swarm. One sure way to tell is if you are being bitten. If you are surrounded by hundreds of these insects but are not being bitten, it is likely not mosquitoes you are seeing.