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Mosquito Hawks: Identification, Prevention, and Removal

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Are there huge mosquitos flying outside and inside your home? You might have heard them called mosquito hawks because they eat smaller mosquitoes.

Although they don’t eat mosquitoes, they aren’t pleasant to have around your home.

Don’t worry; I’m here to help. In this article, I’m going to help you identify and get rid of mosquito hawks.

Let’s get started.

What Are Hawk Mosquitoes?

Mosquito hawks, also known as crane flies, are a large fly species. The size of the mosquito hawk, coupled with the myth that it eats mosquitoes, is the reason this creature is named “mosquito hawk.”

However, it’s important to note that mosquitoes are not included in the diet of mosquito hawks. Likewise, mosquito hawks mostly consume pollen and nectar.

They are a species of large flies. While they look similar to mosquitoes they don’t have any proboscis. 

What Is a Large Mosquito?

In most cases, large mosquitos are also crane flies. However, while mosquitoes can become roughly ½ inch big (give or take), mosquito hawks can grow to be almost three times this size at 1 ⅕ inch .

Now, certain crane fly species can turn out smaller than this; however, in most cases, mosquitoes bigger than ½ inches are not really mosquitos, but rather crane flies.

Mosquitoes vs. Crane Flies: How to Spot the Differences?

Mosquitoes and crane flies resemble one another; however, here’s how to spot the differences:

  • Wings: Crane flies’ wings rest on their sides; however, wings of mosquitoes rest above the abdomen or backward.
  • Legs:  The legs of crane flies are longer and come with several joints.
  • Proboscis: Crane flies lack a pointed mouth or proboscis to bite any mammal, including humans.
  • Flying: Mosquitos are better fliers than crane flies; mosquitos’ flight capabilities are also why they can reach intended destinations and bite humans.  
  • Size: Crane flies are usually bigger; however, mosquitoes can’t grow beyond ½ inch long.
  • Abdomen:  Mosquitoes have more narrow, tinier abdomens than crane flies. 

What attracts mosquito hawks?

1. Lights

Lights draw in mosquito hawks, just like other flying insects. This is why mosquito hawks often get stuck inside homes. In addition, porch lights, window lights, and other lights around structures attract mosquito hawks indoors.

Specific light wavelengths and UV rays, particularly incandescent and blue lights, attract insects indoors.

Some folks use yellow light to keep mosquito hawks away; however, this isn’t always efficient. While LED lights can be more effective, any light can attract mosquito hawks.

You can also try turning off your outdoor lights and keeping your windows shut at night to repel mosquito hawks during their most active seasons.

Another effective way is to use motion-activated lights. This will keep your lights off when they are not in use.

2. Moisture

Wet areas like grass puddles, ponds, mud, lakes, marshes, and soil attract mosquito hawks. They will target soil around these areas becuase the high moisture content allows them to lay eggs and makes it easy for their larva to find food. 

The lifespan of adult mosquito hawks is 10 days to 15 days. While alive, mosquito hawks seek mates and warm, wet places (like lawn soil, water puddles, etc.) to lay their eyes. 

3. Nectar

Like male mosquitoes, adult crane flies ingest pollen, nectar, and other sweet liquids. Flowers, trees, fruits, and humigbird feeders are other common items that will attract mosquito hawks.

Any items that are sweet or provide nectar will attract adult mosquito hawks. Remember that mosquito hawks don’t travel far for food. They tend to stay around moist areas so that they can mate and lay their eggs. 

Mosquito Hawk Damage

The larvae cause the most damage, in fact, adults don’t cause any damage to your home or your garden.

The larvae eat grass, plants crowns, roots, and other aboveground parts. Strong, healthy turfgrass can take minimal to mild populations; however, March and April brings the most obvious damage with dying turfgrass patches.

You can expect dead patches of grass, dying plants, dying flowers, and excess weeds around your home.

Lifespan of mosquito hawks

Adults

For adult mosquito hawks, lifespan ranges between five days to two weeks or even two months in the best environments. 

 

Larvae

The larvae look like small grubs that live under the soil. Crane flies spend most of their lives in this life stage. They can spend anywhere from one to five years. 

 

Pupae: 

The larvae will enter the pupae stage when they are ready to become an adult. This stage is highly dependent on the conditions outdoors. Mosquito hawks prefer humid, moist conditions with moderate temperatures. This stage can last from two days to 3 months depending on the conditions. In ideal conditions, it will last less than ten days. 

Mosquito Hawk Life Cycle

During late summer, adults come from pupae in soil; within one day, females use turfgrass to copulate and lay eggs.

These eggs become “leatherjackets,” also known as wormlike larvae.

Plant crowns and roots are eaten by leatherjackets during spring and fall.

They typically stay underground but sometimes eat plant parts above ground during warm, wet nights.

Leatherjackets stay within soil during winter, not feeding before the climate warms.

They become pupas during spring beneath the soil’s covering; adults rise in fall and late summer to restart the process.

How To Get Rid of Mosquito Hawks

1. Turn off lights

Get motion-activated lights; they’ll provide the necessary light and bring fewer crane flies than fence or porch lights.

Also, try changing your light bulbs from yellow to LED lights. However, all lights may bring mosquitoes; therefore, try limiting your lights’ brightness. Finally, consider avoiding outdated sodium lights with high pressure; although, the more advanced LED lights can bring more bugs.

2. Use insecticides

Chemical insecticide is great for repelling mosquito hawks. To do this, use foggers on all areas that crane flies touch. Remember, insecticides only work if you use them on crane flies or the areas they touched. This should be done throughout your home’s surfaces.

Chemical insecticides work short-term. They’ll cut back on mosquitos for multiple weeks; however, fogging isn’t the ultimate solution. After the maturation of mosquitoes, they’ll be back in your home. Follow directions and wear appropriate protective equipment when using chemical insecticides.

3. Use repellent sprays

You can eliminate but cannot kill mosquito hawks with repellent spray. Sadly, you’ll have to put repellent sprays on plants, grass, walls, and other surrounding outdoor surfaces.

This will only work if mosquito hawks rest on sprayed surfaces; coverage gaps will only attract clusters of mosquito hawks.

If you have kids or pets outdoors, repellent sprays may be dangerous. Make use of a pressurized sprayer whenever applying repellents around your home.

4. Close off entry points

Easy points of entry are the culprits of crane flies within your home. Therefore, close all entry points near your home with the following steps:

Seal up crevices and cracks
Make doors and windows weatherproof
Replace your screen

Caulk is the greatest way to cover outdoor crevices and cracks. It will swiftly seal these holes, blocking crane flies from entering.

Review your home’s interior and exterior to weed out open entry places.

Use a caulk wire mesh if your home has large crevices or cracks; this will efficiently seal the open area without wasting caulk.

5. Weatherproof your home

You can also remove crane flies by weatherproofing your home.

Start with setting door sweeps on each door; this will stop crane flies from sneaking beneath your home’s doors. Next, set a seal on all windows and doors with weatherstripping foam. This, too, will ban crane flies.

Keep out crane flies by installing fresh screens on each door and window. Even minor damages and tears can let crane flies in.

Next, put new vent screens in place. Don’t forget crawlspace and attic vents; these are regular places crane flies use to get in.

Typical mesh screens won’t cut it either; they’re so big that crane flies can swoop right in. It could lead to a serious home infestation. Prevent this by replacing and installing every screen in your home.

18 is the typical mesh size; however, you’ll need size 35 to prevent crane flies from getting in. Stop crane flies from entering with at least 50% of your current mesh openings size.

6. Get Rid of Moisture

Water sources usually attract crane flies; however, different species can live and set eggs in rotting organic matter or wet soil. Therefore, you have to remove moist spots near your home.

Regular causes of moisture issues near your home are as follows

  • Fractured gutters or downspouts
  • Pipes with leaks
  • Busted sprinklers
  • Coarse yards

Scan your home for any issues with moisture; handle them urgently. Usually, it’s a quick, easy fix. Areas with poor drainage can create moisture within your home, thus attracting crane flies.

Take off the soil’s top layer to remove excess moisture or mud; then use new soil or gravel as area replacements.

This will effortlessly lessen moisture. However, you’ll need to find the moisture’s source for a permanent fix. The moisture will keep coming back if the source is not handled.

7. Taking thatch off the lawn

The soil’s dense, muddy areas become pudgy so plants and grass can grow. Then, grass and rotted leaves become wet, forcing plants to grow on top of it and generate mushy plants. From here, thatch has to get taken off so healthy grass grows and lets fertilizer and soil receive air.

8. Attract Mosquito Hawk Predators

Attracting mosquito hawks predators is a natural way you can get rid of mosquito hawks. 

If you attract them towards your home they will naturally feed on any mosquito hawk. 

This method is typically not effective at fully getting rid of mosquito hawks but can be combined with another option on this list. 

Some common mosquito hawk predators are most species of flies. 

You can use birdbaths and small amounts of seeds on the soil to attract birds towards your yard and home. 

Try placing the seeds on areas where you see mosquito hawk damage. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Mosquito Hawks dangerous?

Mosquito hawks are not dangerous. They do not bite nor carry diseases. These flies are harmless.

They actually are the food of other animals such as birds, fish, and other insects. Their larvae feast on decaying matter in different wetlands.

Can Mosquito Hawks damage my home?

Mosquito hawks can bother some people when they find them in their homes, but they won’t cause any damage.

They can, however, damage your lawn, and if you own a garden, they can wreak havoc on your crops.

Their larvae are an invasive pest, and they can damage the plants and greenery surrounding your home.

In addition, they lay their eggs in muddy areas, so if you live near a swamp or wetlands, you could have a higher chance of seeing these insects in your yard.

Do mosquito hawks bite?

Mosquito hawks don’t bite or sting. They don’t have mandibles or proboscis, which prevent them from doing either.

Adult crane flies cannot bite or chew, due to a lack of mandibles; their elongated mouths instead let them suck/consume liquids and cannot puncture human flesh.

Do Mosquito Hawks Transmit diseases?

Mosquito Hawks don’t carry the disease on their body. They also don’t transmit any diseases because they can’t bite.

Despite being commonly referred to as mosquito hawks/mosquito eaters, they don’t bite.

The crane flies’ only objectives are mating and dying. They only consume nectar; unlike mosquitoes which lay eggs in damp areas, crane flies use muddy places to lay their eggs.

What is the diet of mosquito hawks?

Adult crane flies consume pollen and nectar; like aphids, they also ingest honeydew. Sweet liquids and hummingbird feeders’ nectar also help adult crane flies survive.

Larvae crane flies consume grass, roots, and other vegetation under the soil. 

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