Whether you call them crane flies or mosquito hawks, most of us are all too familiar with the dainty, long-legged, winged insects that sometimes call our homes their own.

These are flies which are found in many parts of the world. They’re nocturnal but, like many insects, are attracted to light. Adult crane flies rarely eat, but their larvae live in the soil and eat plants.

Crane flies are the subject of some misconceptions, most commonly that they’re bigger, more dangerous versions of mosquitoes, and that they can cause harm to people.

In reality, crane flies and mosquitoes are not the same and crane flies are actually pretty harmless.

Do crane flies eat mosquitoes?

Another really common misconception about crane flies is that they eat mosquitoes. This is simply not true. In fact, adult crane flies only eat nectar and the dew from the surfaces of plants and fruits. However, crane fly larvae has been known to eat mosquito larvae.

Crane fly vs mosquito

Even though crane flies are often called mosquito hawks, crane flies and mosquitoes are actually very different creatures. 

Firstly, you may be pleased to hear that crane flies are completely harmless to humans. They don’t even bite. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, do bite and can spread nasty diseases like encephalitis and malaria.

You’ll also have very different experiences of crane fly infestations and mosquito infestations. If you have crane flies, you may notice that the plants in your yard are being eaten. You might also notice yellow grass, an uneven lawn, and large holes in your soil. These holes could be from animals such as badgers digging to find crane fly larvae.

When crane flies come indoors, it’s accidental and they’ll be trying to get back outside. Whether they’re outdoors or indoors, crane flies won’t bite you and will be nothing more than mildly irritating and great entertainment for indoor cats.

A mosquito infestation is likely to be painful and itchy as you’ll get bitten, but you may also find mosquitoes flying around food, and hear a distinct, high-pitched buzzing sound. 

Crane flies and mosquitoes also look different. Crane flies have two wings and mosquitoes have four wings. A crane fly’s wingspan is twice the size of that of a mosquito. Mosquitoes are around 0.15-0.4 inches in length, whereas crane flies can grow to around 1.2 inches in length.

One of the giveaway characteristics of a mosquito is its proboscis (a straw-like organ used to suck blood). The lifespan of an adult crane fly is 15 days and the lifespan of a mosquito can range from around 1-4 weeks.

How to get rid of crane flies

Crane flies are harmless to people but can cause damage to plants and your lawn. Plus, they can be really annoying if they make their way into your house! Luckily, if you want to get rid of crane flies, there are some things you can do.

  • Birds eat crane flies. So, if you attract more birds into your yard (e.g. with a bird feeder and a bird bath), you may notice a decrease in your crane fly population.
  • Aerate and dethatch your lawn. Upholding a proper lawn maintenance routine can prevent crane flies from settling there. Also, reduce the amount of water you give your lawn if you can, as crane flies love a moist environment.
  • Call a pest control expert who can identify, remove, and prevent crane flies at your property.

We know how tough it is to have unwanted critters in your home. That’s why we provide Houston and Austin, Texas with green pest control services.

For more information on pests, including identifying pests and removing and preventing them, take a look at our blog.

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