Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mosquito Hawks And Other Louisiana Creepy-Crawlies

Blogger's Note: As a small child I came across many strange creatures in my travels through the woods in our backyard, but nothing was quite as mysterious ... and fascinating as the Mosquito Hawk.  With the legs of a Daddy Long-legs and the wings of an overgrown mosquito, it always gives the viewer a "What is it?" moment upon first viewing.  One local reporter felt the mystery of the Mosquito Hawk was intriguing enough to get to the bottom of it, and dispelling some common myths about the fabled creature.

(Above): Are those giant mosquitoes? No. Mosquito hawks? No.

From the WWL - AM870 website article
written by Jim Hanzo:

You may have noticed, what you thought were large mosquitoes buzzing around your yard.   What are these large mosquito-looking insects anyway?

They sure look like mosquitoes, but they're not.

"They are crane flies, they're not mosquitoes, and they're in a totally different family of flies,"  said Dr. Dennis Ring, extension entomologist with the LSU Agriculture Center.  "This is the time when the adults emerge, mate, lay eggs and continue the next generation."

He says crane flies are completely harmless.

"The larvae feed on plant material and the adults may not even eat, but if they do it's going to be on plant material too.  They certainly don't bite humans, mainly just a nuisance because they're around," said Dr. Ring.

And how long will crane flies hang around our yards?

"They should be gone in a few weeks," he noted.

Common names for crane flies include jimmy spinners, mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters, mosquito nippers, gollywhoppers and gallinippers. Although they are known as daddy long legs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand, they are not at all similar to the arachnid that goes by the same name in the United States.

Contrary to common belief, experts also say crane flies do not eat mosquitoes. In fact, they generally don't eat anything... they just reproduce and die.

They have only one purpose, to mate and lay eggs. Crane fly larvae eat plants.

The American Mosquito Control Association says, "They do not eat mosquitoes."