Mosquito Hawk vs Crane Fly: What’s the Difference?

In the world of flying insects, confusion often arises between certain species, particularly when they have similar appearances or nicknames. One common mix-up is between the so-called “mosquito hawk” and the crane fly. Despite their superficial similarities, these two insects are quite different. Let’s delve into the distinctions between the crane fly and the mosquito hawk, and clear up any misunderstandings.

What is a Crane Fly?

A crane fly, often mistaken for a mosquito due to its long legs and slender body, is a harmless insect belonging to the family Tipulidae. Unlike mosquitoes, crane flies do not bite humans or animals, as most adult crane flies do not feed at all. Their larvae, known as leatherjackets, feed on decaying plant matter and can sometimes be a nuisance in gardens.

Appearance and Habitat

Crane flies have a wingspan that can reach up to 2.5 inches, making them much larger than mosquitoes. They are commonly found in moist environments such as wetlands, meadows, and even your backyard. Their presence is most noticeable in late summer and early fall when they are most active.

What is a Mosquito Hawk?

The term “mosquito hawk” can be a bit misleading, as it’s often used to refer to different insects, including dragonflies and the crane fly itself. However, if we’re talking about a true predator of mosquitoes, then we’re referring to dragonflies. Dragonflies are skilled hunters that feed on a variety of small insects, including mosquitoes.

Dragonflies: The Real Mosquito Hawks

Dragonflies are beneficial predators that help control the population of mosquitoes and other small insects. With their agile flight and keen vision, they are able to catch their prey in mid-air. Unlike the crane fly, dragonflies have robust bodies and two pairs of strong, transparent wings.

Crane Fly vs Mosquito Hawk: Key Differences

When distinguishing between a crane fly and a mosquito hawk (dragonfly), there are several key differences to consider:

  • Diet: Crane flies do not prey on mosquitoes; in fact, most do not eat at all as adults. In contrast, dragonflies are predatory and regularly consume mosquitoes.
  • Bite: Neither crane flies nor dragonflies will bite humans. Mosquitoes, on the other hand, are known for their biting behavior.
  • Body Structure: Crane flies have delicate bodies with long, thin legs, resembling that of a large mosquito. Dragonflies have stockier bodies and wings that spread horizontally when at rest.


Understanding the differences between a crane fly and a mosquito hawk can help dispel myths and appreciate the roles these insects play in our ecosystem. While crane flies are benign and do not bite, dragonflies are the true mosquito hawks that help keep mosquito populations in check.

Turn to On Demand Pest Control for Expert Insect Solutions 

If you’re dealing with an insect problem and need professional assistance, On Demand Pest Control is here to help. Our knowledgeable technicians can accurately identify and manage various pests, ensuring your home and garden remain comfortable and pest-free.

Serving South Florida, including Pembroke Pines, Fort Lauderdale, and Pompano Beach, we offer comprehensive pest control services tailored to your needs. Don’t let misconceptions about insects lead to ineffective control measures. Contact On Demand Pest Control today for a free consultation and let us help you maintain a healthy and balanced environment.

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