Feb 23, 2024 - News

Mosquito hawks aren't as helpful as we've been told

Shows a gif of a mosquito hawk on a fence that flies away.
Mosquito hawks are commonly seen along doors and fences and frequently bumble along the ceiling in houses. Image: Carlie Kollath Wells/Axios

It's all been a lie. Mosquito hawks, also known as crane flies and mosquito eaters, don't actually eat mosquitoes.

Why it matters: We no longer have to give these annoying insects grace when they sneak into our homes and cars.

Driving the news: Mosquito hawks are swarming in New Orleans right now.

  • It's common this time of year to have a large emergence of adult crane flies, Audubon Insectarium curator Zack Lemann tells NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.
  • The numbers are in line with previous swarms, writes Julia Guilbeau at NOLA.com, despite social media chatter that it seems like more than normal.

What they eat: Not mosquitoes, Lemann tells Axios. The adults eat nectar or nothing.

Zoom in: The adults only live for about a week. That gives them enough time to mate and deposit eggs, LSU Ag Center says.

  • They are attracted to lights, and that's why they are often on porches and ceilings at night.

What's their purpose: To annoy humans and entertain cats. Ugh. The Ag Center says these flying bugs, which can grow to almost 2 inches not including wings and legs, are an important food source for birds, lizards and bugs.

  • Check out this gross photo of a spider eating a mosquito hawk.
  • The larvae are important for breaking down organic matter and improving the soil, Lemann adds.

Threat level: They don't bite humans or pose a threat to people.

What's next: Another annoying and disgusting flying insect — formosan termites — historically starts swarming in April and May.

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