What Are Mosquito Hawks?

This long-legged, flying insect may look like a giant mosquito. They can be found outdoors in the garden, and you might observe these insects inside your house. These mosquitoes display unusual flying behavior, characterized by slamming into ceilings and walls.

It’s common for insects to gather in large groups outside the house. Exactly what are mosquito hawks?

  • A mosquito hawk is another name for a crane fly, and are also called “mosquito eaters“. 
  • They look like mosquitoes with long legs and wings but are unrelated to them.
  • A mosquito hawk is not harmful to humans. They don’t bite or sting you.

These insects are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes but don’t worry, they are harmless and don’t transmit disease. Read on to learn about what a mosquito hawk is, what damage they can do and how to prevent them from entering your home.

What Are Mosquito Hawks?

Mosquito hawks are crane flies. Their appearance may resemble mosquitoes, yet they belong to a separate family.

A cranefly is characterized by long legs and a skinny body, similar to mosquitoes. However, upon closer inspection, they differ. If you notice adult mosquito hawks, your yard likely has an infestation of larvae.

Despite mosquitoes being harmless to you, they can seriously damage your plants and grass.

Larvae are the first stage of development for mosquito hawks. The larvae resemble brown slugs crawling across your lawn, which are far more dangerous for your garden than actual slugs.

Plants suffer from a lack of nutrients because these pests eat their bulbs and roots, leading to their eventual death. 

How to Tell the Difference Between Mosquito Hawks and Mosquitos

The mosquito hawk can be confused for a mosquito due to their similar bodies and long, thin legs. The main difference is that the mosquito hawk is much larger than a mosquito.

The mosquito hawk is much larger than a mosquito.

An adult mosquito hawk can grow up to two inches long, whereas an adult mosquito can only grow to a length of one-quarter of an inch.

The feeding habits of mosquito hawks can also help you identify them. Larvae of mosquito hawks devour plants as a major food source, but also eat mosquito eggs. They are known as Mosquito Eaters, but they don’t actually eat mosquitoes — only the eggs.

Female mosquitos, on the other hand, only consume the blood of mammals. 

Are Mosquito Hawks Harmful?

Mosquito hawks do not threaten humans and pets. They don’t live inside your home as there is nothing in a house that can support their lifestyle. They may wander in from time to time, but you don’t have to worry about them infesting your place.

They will not stay long.

They look like they will suck the blood right out of you as mosquitoes do, but this is simply a misconception. Mosquito hawks don’t bite or sting.

Mosquito Hawks: How Can I Prevent Them?

crane fly mosquito eater

1. Avoid Lights 

Night lighting attracts mosquito hawks. It would be best if you kept the outside lights off. Draw the curtains if the lights are on. Install sensor lights outside so lights will only be on occasionally and go off automatically shortly after illumination.

2. Use Screens on Your Windows

Insects cannot pass through mesh screens because they are tightly woven. It’s important to note that mosquito hawks are bigger than regular mosquitos, so they will not be able to fit through a traditional mesh screen.

3. Encourage Mosquito Hawk Predators in Your Yard

Make your home a haven for sparrows and other birds, as they love eating mosquito hawks and larvae found in the soil. Make your yard more bird-friendly by installing bird feeders and birdbaths to assist birds in controlling crane fly (mosquito hawk) larvae.

The Best Trap for Killing Mosquito Hawks

Due to crane flies’ haphazard flying style, they frequently bump into objects. If you hang fly ribbons in your backyard or patio, they can be more easily trapped and killed.

Place the strips around your backyard in random locations, and you will be certain to capture many of them. You can also use these to catch other flying insects, like house flies and mosquitoes.

Do Crane Flies Cause Damage to Your Home and Garden?

Regarding crops and lawns, mosquito hawk larvae pose a serious threat. The European crane fly is a prime example and has spread to North America and Europe.

The larval stage of these insects feeds on plant matter, causing damage to grasses, pastures, and vegetable and fruit crops.

Mosquito Hawk Lifespan

In general, mosquito hawks live for about a year. Upon laying an egg, the mosquito hawk larvae hatch in one to two weeks. The larvae will eat leaves, roots, and other plant material. They will feed for a few months then they start the molting stages. 

Mosquito hawks live for about a year.

After pupation for a few weeks to several months, the mosquito hawk emerges as an adult. The adult mosquito hawks live only a few days – a maximum of 10 to 15 days – during which they lay their eggs and then die.

What Other Names Do They Go By?

The mosquito hawk is known by several names, including crane fly, skeeter eaters, mosquito eaters,  gallinipper, daddy longlegs, and golly whoppers. Their extremely long legs sometimes lead people to mistake them for spiders. The larvae are also known as leather jackets.

Scientists call crane flies by different names, such as the European crane fly, tipula oleracea, and tipula paludosa. 

Fun Facts About Mosquito Hawks

  • The mosquito eater does not eat mosquitoes. They indeed eat mosquito larvae when they are in the larval stage. However, this is a rare occurrence.
  • Nectar from flowers is their primary source of nutrition.
  • Although they are larger than mosquitoes, they are unable to kill them.
  • It‘s common to find these long-legged flies buzzing around your outdoor lighting fixtures.
  • When they are adults, crane flies rarely consume food due to their focus on mating and reproducing.
  • As larvae, crane flies typically measure between 5 millimeters and 4 centimeters until they become pupae.