What You Should Know About the Crane Fly

Author: Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC

You just sprayed my yard, and it’s covered in giant mosquitoes! Please come back and spray again.” Receiving a call like this at Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC is our worst nightmare. It is also something we are not accustomed to, and we take it very seriously. We headed out to the house in question that very same day to see what possibly could have happened.

A Giant Mosquito Infestation

Sure enough, the back yard was covered in large mosquito-like insects. Upon closer inspection, however, they were not mosquitoes. They were Mosquito Eaters. Often mistaken for giant mosquitoes these lovely creatures resemble a cross between a mosquito and a Daddy Long Legs with wings. They are also widely known in the south as Mosquito Hawks or Skeeter Eaters. But their proper name is Crane Fly.

What You Should Know About the Crane Fly

  1. Crane flies do not eat mosquitoes. They were named after them because they look like giant versions of them, not because they eat them.
  2. Crane flies do not bite humans.
  3. Adult Crane flies usually don’t eat at all, but their larvae will devour any decaying matter in the water where they live.
  4. Adults only live for 10 to 15 days after hatching.
  5. Living to reproduce, sometimes the female Crane fly will die immediately after laying her eggs.

Crane flies are known for their lazy flight, attraction to light and their long dangly legs. Many of us were under the impression that they were a natural form of mosquito control. If one would get in the house, we might carefully shoo it out, realizing its value in eating mosquitoes was too important to squash. Carefully picking it up and trying to release it back in the wild was always a challenge with their fragile long legs often becoming victims to our goodwill.

Don’t Kill Mosquito Hawks

While you don’t have to “save” them for their mosquito control value, there is no need to eliminate these harmless flies. They serve as food for a large variety of other insects, birds, and fish and their larvae provide a great service in munching away at the decaying matter in wetlands. There have been reports of larvae munching on the roots and destroying lawns when they show up in massive droves, but that is the exception, not the norm.

If you happen to be an angler you might be very familiar with The Crane Fly and its value. But you probably don’t call it a Crane Fly either; you quite likely call it great baitfish food. Known to be a wonderful bait for catching Bass, the Crane Fly can be mighty useful to the fishing sportsman/woman.

While we don’t advocate killing Crane Flies, we do suggest you eliminate its smaller, much more dangerous, smaller namesake – the mosquito.