What are mosquito hawks?

Crane flies are often mistaken for huge, threatening mosquitoes — but they are not mosquitos at all. In fact, they aren’t even related to mosquitoes. They’re also often called “mosquito hawks,” based on a long-held but errant belief that they feed on mosquitoes and their larvae.

Let’s clear up some misconceptions.

First, crane flies are not the only insects called “mosquito hawks.” Dragonflies are also sometimes referred to by that name, since they actually do prey on mosquitoes. Crane flies are also not spiders, though they're called “daddy longlegs” in some regions. Daddy longlegs is actually the common name for a species of spider with long, spindly legs, similar to those of a crane fly. Other common regional names for crane flies include gallinippers, mosquito eaters, and my personal favorite - golly whoppers!

The truth is, crane flies actually feed only on plant matter — usually the roots of a variety of grasses — and only in their larval stage. Adult crane flies don’t eat much of anything at all, let alone mosquitos.

Finally, crane flies do not bite humans, nor do they sting in any way, shape or form. Essentially, mosquito hawks are harmless to humans. They can seem scary, though, when they get inside your house, looking for all the world like a bloodsucker on steroids. Also, mosquito hawks aren’t likely to infest a home, since there typically isn’t anything inside a house to support their life cycle. They can infest a yard or garden, however, especially if it includes an area that's often wet.

So, what should you do about a mosquito hawk infestation in your yard? First, you can simply leave ‘em alone since they are really no threat to people or pets.

Still, you could call a pest control company if you don’t want to spray them away yourself. I recommend McGrath Pest Control. But, this is a simple do-it-yourself project with a liquid insecticide such as bifenthrin. To permanently protect against a mosquito hawk infestation, just keep the ground from becoming too moist. I realize you can’t control Mother Nature, but you can improve your yard's drainage and take care not to overwater.

GardenLine with Randy Lemmon

GardenLine with Randy Lemmon

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