What do mosquito hawks eat? Do they feed on mosquitoes?
The mere mention of mosquito hawks paints a mental picture of a mosquito predator or eater. In response to such a reaction, we’re interested in finding out if these insects indeed feed prey on mosquitoes.
If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely asked such a question in the past to know.
Anything that preys on mosquitoes is a welcome development for most people due to the deadly diseases transmitted by them.
Such diseases include malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus, West Nile virus, yellow fever, St. Louis encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, and eastern equine encephalitis virus among others.
About Mosquito Hawks
Contrary to what you may think, mosquito hawks aren’t birds but insects. These are also called crane flies and have a striking resemblance to mosquitoes. Oh! So that’s where the name was gotten from right?
Absolutely! Still, on resemblance, one key feature that sets them apart from mosquitoes is their size.
Mosquito hawks are typically larger than mosquitoes. Crane flies also look similar to mayflies. When fully mature, mosquito hawks only live for a few days before they die.
Crane flies spend most of their life as larvae after which they molt through 4 phases to become adults.
Are you still wondering why crane flies are thought to be mosquito predators?
The erroneous belief that crane flies prey on mosquitoes is fuelled by the alias they’re given. As mentioned above, the name mosquito hawk sounds menacing.
Probably they got such a name from their large sizes relative to mosquitoes.
In reality, these distant cousins of mosquitoes are anatomically incapable of preying on mosquitoes. You’ll have to look elsewhere for solutions to your mosquito problems.
Do Mosquito Hawks (Crane Flies) Eat Mosquitoes?
We’re sorry to disappoint you if you’ve hoped that mosquito hawks are mosquito predators. The answer is no!
Contrary to what you had thought, mosquito hawks do not feed on mosquitoes. So, what do they feed on?
You’ll need to read along to find out.
If They Don’t Eat Mosquitoes, Do These Insects Bite Humans?
Before now, we’ve described mosquito hawks as having a striking resemblance to mosquitoes.
In other words, they look much alike to mosquitoes but are mostly differentiated by their bigger sizes. Now, the appearance or features of mosquitoes look menacing based on the knowledge of problems caused by them.
Since mosquito hawks look similar to mosquitoes, it’s logical to ask if they do bite humans. Luckily they don’t. As such, you’re under no risk of getting transmitted with viruses as is common with mosquitoes.
Mosquito Hawks Won’t Solve Your Mosquitoes Problems Either
Crane flies do not feed on mosquitoes. This also means they’ll do nothing to drive out mosquitoes from your surroundings.
Crane flies have no dealings with mosquitoes. This means they’ll have no bearing on your mosquito problems. You’ll have to find ways to deal with such.
What Mosquito Hawks Feed on
Mosquito hawks are most problematic at the larval stage because they feed on the crown and roots of grasses and other forage crops. What more? Grass seedling is another food consumed by crane fly larvae.
When these larvae finally molt into adult mosquito hawks, they feed on nectar.
So is there a problem with their presence? Are mosquito hawks also harmless to the environment? To answer this question, you’ll have to consider their diet.
Although these insects won’t prey on mosquitoes or bite humans, they’ll easily destroy your lawns.
The Larval Stage of Mosquito Hawks Calls for Concern
When mosquito hawks lay their eggs, such eggs are eventually hatched into larvae in fall. A crane fly larva is in the form of a stout and short worm. Typically, larvae should spend about 4 weeks in this form.
However, such time can be extended significantly when it overwinters.
Now, that is worrisome because the larval stage is the most destructive. You want to get rid of these pests as quickly as possible as they feast on your lawn. So, how do you know that your lawn is under attack?
Your lawn steadily discolors when it’s significantly damaged.
Identifying Mosquito Hawk Larvae
Due to the damage caused by crane fly larvae, it’s important to inspect your surroundings for tell-tale signs. To begin with, you’ll need to be able to identify crane flies. This helps you know what to look out for.
As mentioned earlier, crane flies are stout, short worms.
The longest worms will measure about 2 inches. In terms of comparison with other worms, these larvae look like legless caterpillars.
Plus, they have thick grey skin. Before they molt into adults, crane fly larvae must pass through 4 stages. As they feed, these larvae grow in size before they eventually turn adults.
So what’s the Function of Adult Mosquito Hawks?
Well, you’ll have to look at this from the angle of reproduction. Because crane flies only live for a few days (about 10 to 11 days) after turning adults, they’re well developed to lay eggs to reproduce their kind.
It’s important to state here that adult crane flies won’t prey on any insect but only feed on nectar.
This testifies to the “harmless” nature of fully developed mosquito hawks. Before long, they die off and a new cycle continues.
Do you care enough for your lawns?
Since mosquito hawks won’t kill mosquitoes, how about your lawn? Do you care enough for it? If you do, you’ll need to have your surroundings treated.
Pest control services provide all sorts of solutions. You may also want to consider the introduction of beneficial nematodes to your lawns.
Help May Come from the Most Unlikely Places
At this stage, it’s clear that mosquito hawks cause no problems to mosquitoes, but how about other insects and animals that do feed on mosquitoes?
You can begin by introducing mosquito predator species, bats, geese, ducks, frogs, turtles, dragonflies, damselflies, aquatic beetles, and turtles just to name a few.
Each of these will help with natural mosquito control.
Mosquito hawks do NOT eat mosquitoes. We’ve provided a wide range of explanations highlighting this fact. However, other insects and animals do as shown above.