It looks like a giant mosquito and tends to get stuck inside your home during late summer and early fall. It’s huge, it’s scary, and there are tons of myths and misconceptions about it.
What is it? Why, it’s a mosquito hawk, of course!
The truth is, mosquito hawks are probably not as scary as you think, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause some problems around your property. So, without further ado, join us today as we set the record straight on mosquito hawks and learn how to get rid of these common pests.
What Is A Mosquito Hawk?
Contrary to popular belief, mosquito hawks are not mosquitos nor do they eat mosquitos.
Most accurately known as a crane fly, the mosquito hawk is a species of fly that, while distantly related to mosquitos, is not a mosquito at all. Some people also refer to mosquito hawks as skeeter eaters, daddy longlegs, or mosquito eaters, with the common misconception that these massive insects eat mosquitoes or are in fact spiders. Neither, as we mentioned above, is true.
In reality, most adult mosquito hawks don’t eat much if anything, and solely rely on food they consumed in their larvae stage to mate and clumsily fly about during their short adulthood.
The below video talks more about the many misconceptions surrounding the mosquito hawk.
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Mosquito hawks are incredibly common throughout the United States and even the world. In fact, they live everywhere on the continent except for Antarctica. There are thousands of species of mosquito hawks in the US, with many being no larger than ⅓ of an inch in length.
However, the most popular mosquito hawk species we know and many of us fear is the larger mosquito hawk who grows to be around 1.2 inches in length.
Though they do resemble massive mosquitos, mosquito hawks cannot bite and do not suck blood. They also don’t sting, and spend the majority of their adult life procreating. Upon mating, female mosquito hawks look for an area rich in moisture to lay her eggs before she dies.
Some mosquito hawks are beneficial pollinators, with a few species of adult mosquito hawks feeding on nectar from flowers and blooms, however most adult crane flies don’t consume anything at all, as we mentioned above.
Still, many consider mosquito hawks to be pests because of the damage they cause in their larvae stage. Also known as leatherjackets, mosquito hawk larvae are typically born in water or beneath moist soil. They are most active during spring and early summer.
Leatherjackets are problematic because they feed on the roots and of plants and turf, causing massive dead and dry patches in lawns. These are very common pests that can wreak havoc on landscaping in large numbers, so it’s important to get a handle on them early if you can.
Unfortunately, dead and dying grass can be caused for a number of reasons, from stress factors to other pests to improper care.
So, how do you know for sure you’re dealing with the larvae of a mosquito hawk? That’s what we’re here to find out.
How To Identify A Mosquito Hawk Problem
Dead or dying patches in your lawn are telltale signs of mosquito hawk larvae.
As we mentioned above, mosquito hawks are not dangerous nor destructive in their adult state. Their larvae, however, are an entirely different story. Though mosquito hawks only live for about a year, they spend most of their life in their larvae stage, which means they are able to spend a lot of time below your lawn feasting.
Leatherjackets look like large grubs and grow to be about 30 mm in length. They can be a multitude of colors including tan, beige, grey or even green. They feed on a variety of organic matter including plant roots, root hairs, crowns, and plant leaves. In small numbers, mosquito hawk larvae are not much of a concern. However, in large numbers, they can cause serious destruction to lawns and gardens.
In order to treat a mosquito hawk larvae problem head on, you must first be able to identify a problem. Remember, dead and dying grass can certainly be an indicator of leatherjackets below the surface, but this is not always the case as grass can and does die for many other reasons.
Before you dig up your truf looking for leatherjackets, look for these other signs of a mosquito hawk problem around your property:
- An abundance of adult mosquito hawks
- Birds and other animals digging up areas of your lawn looking for these grubs
- Small plants and seedlings dying off in flower beds or vegetable gardens
- And of course, patches of yellow or brown grass in your lawn
There are a few ways to identify for sure if you have leatherjackets in your lawn. One of the easiest is to saturate a patch of lawn where you believe the problem to be and cover it with a tarp so it is shaded. Leave the patch overnight and return the next day to check. If leatherjackets are the problem, you’ll find these grubs at the surface of the lawn in search of air.
You can also dig up a small piece of turf from your lawn. While a few grubs are common in the soil below the grass, finding an abundance of leatherjackets means it’s time to create a game plan for treatment.
What Attracted A Mosquito Hawk To Your Home?
Bodies of water and excess moisture are highly attractive to adult mosquito hawks.
Because they don’t eat much (if anything at all), adult mosquito hawks are typically attracted to areas rich in moisture for the sole purpose of mating like lakes, ponds, and marshes, but they may also be found nearly anywhere in moisture-rich environments where conditions are ideal.
As adults, mosquito hawks only live around 10 to 15 days. During this time, they look for mates and lay eggs below the soil in lawns or near and sometimes in bodies of water. Like many flying insects, adult mosquito hawks are also attracted to light. This is often why they fly into homes, finding themselves stuck.
To keep mosquito hawk adults away and out of your home, you can consider keeping your porch light off during the seasons they are most active. You can also invest in a yellow porch light specifically designed to repel flying insects, which we’ll talk more about further down.
However, keep in mind that your real enemy is an abundance of mosquito hawk larvae. Luckily, you can be proactive and take measures to protect your lawn and stop these grubs once their eggs are laid before they cause too much damage.
Let’s talk about treatment methods for leatherjackets and mosquito hawks below.
How To Get Rid Of A Mosquito Hawk – Most Popular Methods
Mosquito hawks lay their eggs in grass or water, which leads to problematic grubs.
The specific method of treatment you will use for your mosquito hawk problem will depend on if you’re dealing with adult mosquito hawks or their larvae. However, there are four basic methods you can choose from regardless.
These methods include:
- Natural Products
- Home Remedies
When it comes to using insecticides for leatherjacket control, it’s important to note that most chemical methods are no longer widely available, nor are they as effective when it comes to control. In fact, some of the best pest control options for leatherjacket management happen to be organic and natural. Still, there are some insecticide products you can purchase online or in your local gardening store.
Before you buy an insecticide grub control product for leatherjacket control, make sure the use of these insecticides are legal in your area.
Of course, there are plenty of brands and options to choose from, so it’s important to do your research before you choose the method and product that works best for you.
If you’re not yet sure what you will need to treat your mosquito hawk infestation, don’t worry. We will go over the above methods in more detail below and list some of the best products you can use for mosquito hawk control below.
Let’s begin first with how to get rid of mosquito hawk larvae, also known as leatherjackets.
How To Get Rid Of A Mosquito Hawk Larvae In Your Lawn
Crane fly grubs are the real problem when it comes to destruction in your yard.
Many people prefer natural products when it comes to pest control because they work without the use of harsh chemical ingredients. Natural products are often free of toxins that can be dangerous to people, pets and the environment, and experts agree that natural products can be just as effective for pest control as chemical products when used correctly.
In the case of leatherjackets, you may not have a choice. A number of regions both in and outside of the US have banned chemical insecticides for leatherjacket control, seeing as organic and natural products have been found to work just as effectively and without the same environmental consequences or health concerns.
That said, it’s important to make sure you are using the proper natural products for the pest you are dealing with, which, in this case, is the mosquito hawk and/or its leatherjacket offspring.
Let’s take a look at some of our favorite products specifically designed for mosquito hawk and leatherjacket control.
Scotts GrubEx Grub Killer
First on our list of leatherjacket control is a grub killer by GrubEx. This product is a granular grub killer that treats up to 10,000 square feet and not only controls leatherjacket larvae from mosquito hawks but also other problematic grubs like webroms, japanese beetle grubs and white grubs.
You can order it in a smaller package if needed. Just make sure you apply it in early summer to keep grubs and larvae from growing and reaching the damaging stage where they feed on your lawn and roots.
BioLogic Beneficial Nematodes
Perhaps one of the most effective treatments for leatherjacket larvae are beneficial nematodes. Beneficial nematodes are small, parasitic worms that devour pests below the surface soil like larvae and grubs. However, they don’t harm beneficial insects and leave grass roots and plants alone.
Best of all, they are completely safe and natural for the environment and for people and pets. The above order comes in 5 to 100 million nematodes. They will need to be applied by being watered into your lawn over the problem areas in order to work.
Natures Good Guys Beneficial Nematodes
Another brand of beneficial nematodes is by Natures Good Guys. This order includes three different types of nematodes to help control different grubs and problem pests in your yard and garden.
Like all beneficial nematodes, these microscopic parasites are safe for people, pets and the environment and do not harm beneficial insects like ladybugs, bees and worms. This order treats up to 12,500 square feet.
Talstar Xtra Granular Insecticide
Talstar Xtra is a granular insecticide designed to control grubs and mosquito hawk larvae before they hatch, and should therefore be applied earlier in the spring, when crane flies are actively mating and laying eggs. That said, they can also work when applied in summer and early fall.
The above insecticide contains the active ingredient Bifenthrin, which is a toxic insecticidal chemical that is not legal in all states. Again, as we mentioned above, make sure you do some research before attempting to use this insecticide for mosquito hawk control in your area.
CSI Bifen L/P Granules
Bifen L/P again uses the active ingredient bifenthrin, so it is not legal to sell in all states. However, it can be an effective way to get rid of a serious leatherjacket and mosquito hawk infestation in your yard or on your property.
These granules are designed to be sprinkled around your lawn and garden and work upon getting wet to soak beneath the soil. Once beneath the turf, this chemical kills a number of lawn-destroying pests from grubs to beetles.
Best Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of Mosquito Hawk Adults and Larvae
You can make a DIY essential oil spray at home to repel crane flies.
If you like the idea of using natural products around your home and garden for mosquito hawk and leatherjacket control, you might also be interested in trying your hand at some do it yourself pest control options.
Both mosquito hawks and their leatherjacket larvae are sensitive pests who can be deterred with a number of household ingredients you might already have on hand.
Take a look.
Essential Oil Mosquito Hawk Repellent
Essential oils will not kill adult crane flies or their larvae, but they can help repel them, which can reduce your chances of dealing with leatherjackets in your lawn or adult mosquito hawks in your home.
The best essential oils to use for pest control when it comes to mosquito hawks are:
- Peppermint Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- And Lemongrass Oil
You can make your own mosquito hawk repellent spray by adding 10 to 15 drops of the above essential oil of your choice to two cups of water and pouring it in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to ensure the solution is mixed, then spray this spray around your home inside and out. Repeat this as necessary to repel mosquito hawks, flies, mosquitos, wasps, gnats, and other flying pests.
Using the soapy water technique is best for small patches of your lawn or garden where you suspect leatherjacket activity. This is a quick and simple way to bring these grubs to the surface, if they are there.
Simply combine a few drops of liquid dish soap to a bucket of water and stir until the water is sudsy. Then pour this bucket directly onto the patches of lawn you find affected. If leatherjackets are dwelling beneath the soil, they’ll soon be crawling their way to the surface for you to identify.
Neem oil contains natural insecticidal properties that are harmless to lawns but deadly to grubs and mosquito hawk larvae. To use neem oil correctly, combine neem oil with water and saturate the affected areas of your lawn and garden.
The amount of neem oil that needs to be combined with water depends on the surface area you are dealing with, so be sure to do a bit of research before you use this method.
How To Get Rid Of Mosquito Hawk Adults
Though mosquito hawks are not dangerous, their presence can be alarming.
Adult mosquito hawks are not destructive and they do not bite. Furthermore, they often flutter about clumsily for no more than 15 days before dying anyway.
However, if you’re looking for quick and effective ways to keep them away from your property and out of your home, there are some products you can use to help, which we’ve listed below.
Yellow LED Bug Light
Scientists know that many flying insects are attracted to light, they just don’t know why yet. Still, interestingly enough, experts have found that insects are not attracted to yellow lights, like the above yellow LED bug light by Greenic.
This bug light is a pest repellent and deters mosquito hawks, mosquitos, flies, moths and other flying pests from annoying you at dusk. The bulb can be easily screwed into your regular light socket on your porch light and comes in an order of two.
PyGanic Pyrethrin Concentrate
Pyrethrin is a naturally occurring insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe for people and pets. Dogs especially can have an adverse reaction to this chemical, so be careful when using it.
That said, this concentrate can still be used in organic gardening and is great for ridding your yard of both adult mosquito hawks and their larvae. It will need to be diluted with water and applied correctly, and can work to control leatherjackets, crane flies, mosquitoes, beetles, roaches, ants, and more.
How To Get Rid Of A Mosquito Hawk Problem – When To Call A Professional
Large numbers of adult mosquito hawks could mean you have an abundance of crane fly larvae in your lawn.
Most mosquito hawk problems can be taken care with proper yard care and the grub-control products listed above. However, it is possible for leatherjackets to get out of control and destroy entire lawns and gardens.
If you find that you’ve been unable to get control of your mosquito hawk larvae problem on your property, it may be a good idea to contact a professional. Most professional pest control experts or landscaping professionals charge around $100 to $500 for leatherjacket control, but this could vary depending on your region and the severity of your infestation.
As soon as you’ve managed to get rid of the mosquito hawks, it’s time to build your lawn and garden back up and fight to protect it from these pests in the future.
How To Prevent Future A Mosquito Hawk In Your Home
A healthy lawn is better prepared to withstand grubs like leatherjackets.
Keeping mosquito hawks and their larvae off of your property and out of your lawn is easier than you might think. In fact, healthy lawns with strong grass roots are less likely to suffer from grub and leatherjacket issues. Furthermore, there are ways you can deter an abundance of mosquito hawk adults from choosing your home as a breeding ground.
Take a look at the below preventative measures you can take to ensure your home is mosquito hawk free in the future.
Keep Your Lawn Healthy And Aerated
Routinely aerating your lawn and ensuring it is healthy and lush can help strengthen the grass roots and allow for your lawn to tolerate more pest and grub activity without showing signs of damage.
This will also help reduce stress factors on your lawn that contribute to other reasons for dead and drying patches.
Invite The Predators
Put up bird houses and leave out birdseed for mosquito hawk predators. This will help keep adult mosquito hawks away and thus reduce your chances of dealing with leatherjackets. Birds can also help reduce grubs in your lawn.
However, an abundance of grubs can lead to lawn damage if birds become too active in digging for them in the grass.
Don’t Overwater and Reduce Excess Moisture Around Your Yard
Overwatering your lawn can lead to a weakened turf and an increase in pest activity. The excess moisture can also attract pests like adult mosquito hawks. For this reason, it’s best to only water as needed to reduce excess moisture.
And speaking of excess moisture, it’s also a good idea to reduce other areas rich in moisture around your home like stagnant birdbaths, upturned buckets, old tiers, and the likes.
Keep Up With Routine Home Maintenance
Although mosquito hawk insects are not dangerous or destructive, they can still be alarming when they get inside your home just due to their massive size. To keep these pests outside, make sure you keep up with routine home maintenance.
Ensure doors and windows shut and close securely, and make sure screens are free of tears or rips. It will also help to keep doors and screens shut tightly during spring, summer and fall when these pests are most active.
So, what do you think about the mosquito hawk? Did you realize they weren’t actually giant mosquitoes afterall? We would love to hear your thoughts about these interesting insects. Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.