Mosquito Hawks

Mosquito Hawks

The insects we have all called “mosquito hawks” aren’t…and their reputation is a hoax.  I’m covering what to do about the supposed mosquito hawk; ultimately what NOT to do.  First, I must dispel some myths and rumors.  NO…..Tropical Storm Bill did not bring in, or help spawn, a mutant-sized mosquito.  Much like the “termites in mulch” myths following Hurricane Katrina, these are not some gargantuan, Frankenstein-ish mosquitoes on the loose.     

As for the supposed mosquito hawk actually eating other mosquitoes, it’s just myth or hoax, that has duped a great many Houstonians for years.  These long-leggedy things we see flying around and bumping here and there in its flight is actually an adult crane fly as opposed to the mosquito hawk.

Yes, there really is a mosquito hawk, but it is a mosquito that only kills the larvae of other mosquitoes.   Plus, you know it’s gotta’ be the crane fly when they flap around the house or inside a car bouncing like helium balloons off walls and ceilings. Even if you’ve never heard of them referred to as crane flies – an attribution derived from their resemblance to the birds of the same name with long leges and slow flight – we know them well.

Many of us tolerate the gentle giants and practice a “catch and release” policy, catching them gently so as not to snap off any appendages and watching them wobble off when set free outside.  Others detest them for their “distractor factor”: tickling our shoulders, flying in front of our faces, and cluttering up our homes with bits and pieces of themselves.  The crane fly doesn’t eat mosquitoes or much of anything else.  

Maybe the hoax isn’t along the lines of the Lochness Monster or Sasquatch, but you know for years we have all wanted to believe this fragile, clumsy, goofy insect was/is the ultimate “beneficial” in its supposed ability to silence its annoying insect cousin — permanently.   Sad to report, it does not!!!

So, hopefully someone is now asking “do we need to control these crane flies, and if so, how?”   Frankly, in my opinion, you don’t ever need to do anything to “control them”, because like their moth and June bug compatriots, they are simply attracted to light, have a very short life span and are harmless to humans.  If the kids like to save them (as my kids do) don’t bust that myth just yet! I haven’t told my kids the whole truth just yet, because I like seeing their compassionate side.  If you still think these are gargantuan, lab-experiment-gone-wrong mosquitos, just remember that a crane fly can neither bite, draw blood or sting.

They’re also great meals for birds, reptiles, amphibians, other insects, and fish. Because fish love them (particularly trout), they’re good fishing bait and are models for numerous artificial lures – I’m guessing that last part, and probably should ask our outdoor specialist Doug Pike, if in fact that’s true.