Mosquito Hawk or Giant Mosquito?
If you have seen too many of these large flies on your porch lately or buzzing around your house, that just means Spring is here in Texas. Many folks think this large fly is either a super-duper mosquito predator or even a giant mosquito. This Spring insect is actually called a Crane Fly. They are very abundant from mid- March through early April of most years. The Crane Fly is part of the Order Diptera and Family Tipulidae and the immature form of the insect is a legless larva called a “leather jacket” because of its brown tough and smooth covering. Native Crane Flies cause little damage to turf or flower beds. The immature has not been shown to cause much damage in North America, but the European cousin is a significant turf pest in Europe. In Texas, the gangly insects just flock to our porch lights and make their way indoors to torment the dogs and cats we share our homes with.
Do they eat mosquitoes?
No. The adult Crane Fly does not have functional mouthparts and does not really even feed. They don’t really need to eat since the adults live for a few days. The adults emerge, fly around our porch lights, breed, lay eggs, and die. This insect spends most of its life time as a larva eating away at decaying organic matter in our turf, flower beds, forests, and other damp areas. So while they have somehow earned a place in our hearts as Mosquito Hawks, Skeeter Eaters, and other endearing names, your resident mosquito population will unfortunately suffer no harm at the vestigial mouthparts of the Crane Fly.