Have you spotted a mosquito hawk flying around your home? Maybe there’s one dancing around your head as you read this? You may be worried by these gangly legged creatures, do they sting or bite? Are they poisonous? Do they transmit diseases?
You’re not alone, many people have misconceived ideas about these mysterious bugs, and the fact that they’ve been called mosquito eaters doesn’t help. Their common name is crane fly and if you’re desperately trying to find a way to get rid of these flies, don’t worry, we’ve got some great tips and advice on how to rid your home of them.
We’ll explain what these little creatures are and where you’re likely to find them. We’ve also answered some questions that may be on your mind about how to eliminate these flying bugs from your house.
The good news is that these ferocious-looking beings are completely harmless, with no biting or stinging from these bugs. Adult crane flies are, however, pretty annoying and are generally considered a nuisance, particularly when you’re trying to sleep and one decides to flutter right next to your face.
There are ways to humanely get rid of them and in this useful guide, we’ll show you how, so make sure you read on to achieve a crane fly free environment!
Let’s take an in-depth look at these little mosquito hawks. How do you recognize them? Where do they live? You’ll find all those answers and more in this section. We’ll also explain a few simple and easy ways of getting rid of them if they are causing a lot of annoyance.
Mosquito hawks, commonly known as crane flies, are huge insects that resemble large mosquitoes. Fortunately, they’re not mosquitoes and they’re completely harmless in their adult form. Although, because of their stature they can look pretty scary!
Although they look terrifying when they fly into your home, you’re very unlikely to suffer a true infestation of them. Since mosquito hawks eat hardly anything, and they typically die within a few days, they wouldn’t be around long enough to cause an infestation.
Crane flies in their larval stage can be harmful to your lawn though. You should be extra vigilant if you live in a wet region as this is a dream environment for crane fly larvae to grow and feed in.
In summer and fall, adult crane flies will pop out from beneath the soil in yards and other grass areas. Female crane flies get to work quickly and mate and lay eggs in the first 24 hours! These eggs will then hatch into small crane fly larvae with extremely tough outer layers that are called leatherjackets.
The crane fly larvae are usually found in wet environments such as streams and wooded areas. Crane flies in this stage have mouths that chew, usually on decomposing plant matter.
This is the part of their life span that is actually the most destructive. Once spring arrives, they enter what’s called the pupal stage. This is where they don’t feed and they sit just below the soil surface. Once late summer comes around they will make their way to the surface and emerge as adult mosquito hawks
With the larvae being the most troublesome stage of the crane flies life span, treating your lawn should help you get ahead and control these pesky bugs.
Given the size of these monstrous-looking creatures, you would be completely forgiven for thinking that they were indeed, large mosquitoes. Luckily, they’re not, they’re just big bugs! Crane flies are part of an order called Diptera, from the Greek words “di”, which means two, and “ptera” that translates to wings. This basically means that only real flies have one set of wings.
Adult crane flies tend to be very fragile with a tan-colored body, although this varies between species. Their bodies can grow to up to 2 inches in length with easily broken legs that are usually twice as long as they are.
Their wings can reach up to 1 inch in length and there is a structure called the haltere behind each wing. They act as gyroscopes to prevent the crane fly from rolling or spinning out of control whilst they fly around, usually searching for the nearest glow of light.
Halteres are common on other Diptera species, but they are very visible on crane flies and can usually be spotted just with the naked eye. You can also quite often, tell males and females apart as well.
Males have slim abdomens that are round in shape while females have longer abdomens as they’ll be carrying the eggs. Her abdomen does extend into an ovipositor which can be mistaken for a stinger, don’t worry, it’s not!
Male crane flies tend to have a weird flying technique too, they’ll rise and fall almost as if they’ve had a bit too much to drink but a female will fly in a straight line with perfect control. After mating, the male dies and the females carefully lay their eggs into a moist or wet spot where the cycle will begin all over again.
The crane fly larvae look very much like short, fat worms. Their skin is super tough and usually gray in color, hence why they’re called leatherjackets. They can grow up to 2 inches in length and can look like later stage caterpillars without legs.
Mosquito hawks are present in most countries, including North America. They thrive in moist or wet areas and as adults they can frequently be found stuck to windows or the walls of your house, trying to get in. Once they do manage to sneak in, they have a distinctive bouncing motion, as if they’re now looking for an escape.
Mosquito hawks are most prevalent in early spring and fall. If you happen to see two of them around this period then they’re most likely nesting in your backyard. They are almost guaranteed to be in wet soil areas as these are the perfect environments for the crane fly larvae to grow.
It’s advisable to check every part of your yard that’s damp. Any flower beds, pipes that are leaking, or if you have a water feature, these are just a few areas where mosquito hawks could be hiding. In these wet areas, you should come across the adult crane flies and their larvae.
It’s also a good idea to check your lawn for any discolored patches. This is a sure sign that there are crane fly larvae hidden in the soil, as they eat away at the grassroots and other plant matter. To check, simply dig up a small amount of soil and you’ll be able to see if the larvae are there or not.
Although they survive best in very wet areas, a mosquito hawk can survive in grassy areas such as fields. They also seem to prefer organic soil and it’s been discovered that they also feast on fruits and vegetables
Adult crane flies are attracted to light and they can often be spotted by streetlights at nighttime. This is why it’s a good idea to switch off any outside lights at night, so as not to attract them.
Because they’re most active in warmer times of the year, it’s easy for them to sneak into the house. Many people leave their back doors open when it’s warm, giving the mosquito hawks a perfect opportunity to get in and cause annoyance.
Crane flies really are some of the most inoffensive flying insects you’ll ever see. They don’t bite or sting and they won’t pass any diseases to you. Unlike house flies that can transmit diseases to humans or moths that destroy clothing and soft furnishings, crane flies are gentle giants who aren’t really considered pests.
The biggest problem would be if a crane fly dances across your face while you’re watching tv or trying to sleep. Apart from this, an infestation is pretty much unheard of. Although crane fly larvae can eat away at the plant matter and grass in your yard, this damage is only temporary and once they turn into adults, the grass will quickly recover.
Although adult mosquito hawks can resemble scary, large mosquitoes, don’t panic, they really are completely harmless. Even if they do get into your house, they generally only live for a few days. You’ll probably find that only one or two get into your house at any given time, they don’t move around in numbers.
The only time crane fly larvae might cause significant problems is if they decide to nest in a place of business like a golf course. Not only do they destroy the work that the groundskeeper does, but the course won’t look aesthetically pleasing and customer numbers may dwindle, resulting in loss of profits.
Depending on the severity of the infestation, the green may need to be heavily repaired or even replaced as a result. In this case, it’s best to deal with the crane fly larvae before it gets to that stage. Now let’s look at some ways to get rid of these little pests!
How to safely remove Mosquito Hawks
Fortunately, getting rid of mosquito hawks is a pretty easy task. Calling in a pest management company is one option, however, with it being such an easy job, you could easily do it yourself. An organic pesticide spray is a perfect solution to getting rid of those crane fly larvae, however, make sure you buy one that won’t cause harm to any of your plants or flowers.
Follow the instructions for use and carefully apply it to all infested areas. If you can, choosing a long-lasting formula will not only get rid of the existing mosquito hawks but will also repel any more from residing on your lawn. Some sprays are capable of repelling the crane flies for up to 3 months.
If you’re into DIY then you could always make your own spray, with lots of different ingredient combinations to choose from. Garlic and chili are a popular choice. Simply crush as many garlic cloves as you need and mix it with crushed chili and water.
Give it a really good mix and stir so it’s well blended and then pour your concoction into a spray bottle, and your homemade organic pesticide spray is ready! Keep in mind that the crane fly larvae will be well beneath the soil so it’s important to make sure your ingredients have been crushed and ground well so they can get all the way underneath the soil.
Treat any plants or flowers that have been affected too. For the infested soil, just spraying them may not do anything. If so, simply pour the mixture directly into the soil so it can seep through and target the larvae. Garlic is the perfect insect repellant as the smell is too repulsive for them, they hate it!
Another method of preventing an infestation is to reduce the wetness in your garden. Crane fly larvae love moist areas, so avoid overwatering your plants and check for any pipes that are leaking.
Keeping adult crane flies out of the house is something that most people want to achieve, however, you can’t keep your windows shut all summer. You need ventilation, so installing mesh screens on your windows and doors will be very effective. Another method is to reduce the amount of lighting you have switched on.
Adult crane flies are attracted to light, so if you’re inside make sure all outside lights are switched off. Likewise, if you’re relaxing in the garden, make sure all the lights inside are off.
Next, we’ll go through frequently asked questions about these little creatures commonly called mosquito hawks. If you’re wanting to know a little more about these giant flying insects, this is the section you need to read. From how to protect your lawn from hungry larvae to whether you should kill these giant flies, we’ve got all of the answers here!
Do mosquito hawks eat mosquitoes?
Contrary to popular belief, mosquito hawks don’t eat mosquitoes. Nor do they feast on people, in fact, adult crane flies have a very minimal diet, usually just nectar or sometimes nothing at all. Once they mature, an adult crane fly has one thing on its mind – to mate, and then it dies.
In reality, a crane fly does most of its eating during the larval stage and even then, it’s usually plant matter such as grassroots, that they nibble on. Adult crane flies eat barely anything, meaning their mosquito destroyer rating is a complete and utter myth.
Unfortunately, we’ve always believed this weak, harmless, and helpless bug can get rid of the disease-ridden mosquitoes for us. The incorrectly nicknamed mosquito eaters don’t eat mosquitoes, never have and sadly just aren’t built to kill or eat them.
It sounds depressing to us but that’s the life of an adult crane fly! Their life span is incredibly short, anything from 2 to 15 days depending on their environment and whether they become victims to a rolled-up newspaper, or become a snack for the family dog!
Dragonflies have also been dubbed mosquito eaters and although mosquitoes do appear on their menus, they don’t eat enough of them to be considered an effective deterrent against those horrid, pesky creatures.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that crane flies are spiders either. Although they are commonly known as daddy long legs in some places, the same name for a certain spider species that look suspiciously like a crane fly, they don’t belong to the spider family.
The next time you see an adult crane fly burst into your room, you can rest assured that this scary looking bug is completely harmless to you. The downside is that if you’re suffering from an influx of mosquitoes, you’ll have to find another way of eliminating the little pests because that fragile, bumbling crane fly will be about as useful to you as a chocolate fire grate!
What is the purpose of a mosquito hawk?
This is a good question, they seem like pretty pointless creatures don’t they? They actually play a rather important environmental role. The crane fly larvae feed on the organic matter around streams and in forests, enriching the soil quality and creating better habitats for other creatures. They’re also important sustenance for birds, other insects, and even fish.
Because fish find them pretty tasty, they make good fishing bait. They don’t bite, sting, or cause harm, in fact, you’ll probably hardly notice them. If you can cope with a few patches of discolored grass then really, there’s no need to actively try and get rid of crane flies.
Obviously, if they’re affecting your work, for example, a golf course as we talked about earlier, then you’ll probably need to take action as they could affect your business. In 1935, Lord’s cricket ground in London became infested with crane fly larvae and several thousand were picked up by the staff members. The infestation caused numerous unsightly discolored patches on the green, which affected the playing quality over the season.
Although mosquito hawks don’t eat mosquitoes, there is another alternative to getting rid of the blood-sucking pests. A bug zapper is a great way of ridding your home of mosquitoes. Not only are mosquitoes annoying and are capable of ruining a perfectly enjoyable summer barbeque, but they can also carry deadly diseases.
Female mosquitoes bite people as the blood is a good source of protein for their growing eggs. Mosquito bites are a substantial health risk to many people with mosquito-related deaths being very frequent. Malaria is just one of the potentially fatal diseases these horrid little pests can transmit.
This is why it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Being prepared before the mosquitoes strike will help prevent any painful bites. You’ll find some great bug zappers on here, with reviews so you’ll be able to choose the best one for you.
Bug zappers are an inexpensive and efficient way of eliminating mosquitoes, leaving you to enjoy your summer evenings in peace, without fear of being attacked by these vicious, mini vampires!
Should I kill mosquito hawks?
If you’re talking about taking a magazine or a swatter and striking down an innocent adult mosquito hawk, then that’s probably not going to be good for your karma. If however, crane fly larvae are destroying your lawn or your crop fields, then it’s probably best to take action.
There are a few effective ways of making your lawn an unpleasant place for them to lay eggs. Not overwatering your plants or lawn is the first step you can take to prevent a crane fly larvae plague. Make sure your yard has good drainage to prevent pools of water from forming. Not only is this unpleasant to look at, but it’s also a larvae’s paradise for growing in!
Good lawn maintenance is also key to preventing mosquito hawk larvae from destroying your property. During the warmer seasons, make sure you mow your lawn at least once a week. Rake and collect any dead leaves or mulch that the crane fly larvae would love.
If the larvae infestation is getting out of hand, a pesticide is probably the best option. You can either use a shop-bought pesticide or make your own. Either way, you’ll need enough to spray the affected areas thoroughly. As we said before, make sure your pesticide is safe for plants and other flowers, you don’t want to get rid of the crane fly infestation and kill your beloved plants off as well!
Luckily, adult mosquito hawks don’t usually invade your home because there’s not much to attract them. They like to be outside, they aim to mate and lay eggs. Even if one of them does accidentally flutter into your house, they don’t live very long and they’ll probably die before you even realize they’re there!
A well-fitting mesh screen will do a good job at keeping them out of your home, that way you can keep your windows and doors open during the sweltering summer heat.
What are crane flies good for?
We’ve established that the notorious adult crane fly doesn’t actually eat mosquitoes, so what exactly are they good for? They’re incredibly beneficial to the soil and our ecosystem. Because the mosquito hawk larvae feed on decaying plant matter, they create better habitats for other animals. They’re also valuable food sources for many mammals including other insects, spiders, and birds.
Even though they don’t eat mosquitoes, they should in reality be classed as useful insects. Because the mosquito hawk larvae, called leatherjackets due to their tough leather-like outer skin, feed on dead organic matter, they help with the decomposition process.
Now you have some answers as to what mosquito hawks actually do, fortunately, what they don’t do is bite, sting, or harm people in any way. Next time you see a mosquito hawk flutter into your room, don’t be scared. Your best bet is to switch off any unnecessary lights and ignore it.
It won’t harm you and if it is too annoying you could always utilize the old glass and paper trick, and set it free again out of your open window or door. Mesh covers will also be your best friend throughout the sweltering summer months and will keep your rooms free from the bumbling adult crane fly!