Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mosquito Hawk


My Backyard Bird newsletter has a column titled "Mosquito Hawk Mistake," which makes the claim that young people call dragonflies 'mosquito hawks' while "baby-boomers and their parents" use the term for the crane-fly (see picture). Interesting. I am certainly of the latter group, demographically and linguistically. And it's news to me that mosquito hawks (as I know them) do not in fact eat mosquitos! I checked DARE and it looks like both usages have been around for a while, actually. In fact, using the term for dragonflies goes back to at least 1737 ("The Muskeetoe-Hawks, are Insects, so called, from their continually hunting after Muskeetoes, and killing and eating them"). So all these years I was careful not to kill mosquito hawks (=crane-flies) because I thought they ate mosquitos. Hah! No more Ms. Nice Person, Mr. Crane-Fly!

6 comments:

lynneguist said...

Meanwhile, in the UK, crane flies are called 'daddy long-legs', which in the US is a spider. (See here, if you're interested.

Anonymous said...

No reason to kill the crane fly. They do not bite or sting. They eat only roots of grasses!

Anonymous said...

The dragonfly/mosquito hawk DOES eat mosquitoes--200/day-- and in some places is sold as nymphs -- in great numbers exactly for the purpose of maturing and looking after mosquito control!

Anonymous said...

they do eat mosquitoes, but in a larvae stage....they do not go around killing the flying ones.
If anyone knows where to buy these things in the US , let me know!

Ashley said...

It may have gotten its name from the fact that crane fly larvae sometimes feed on mosquito larvae. But you should still get a trap if you're looking to kill mosquitoes. I've read about those Mosquito Magnet traps. They break the breeding cycle and can provide mosquito relief for an entire season long.

Anonymous said...

The crane fly is not what is referred to as a mosquito hawk in S. Georgia. Some people refer to them as dragonflies, but there is a difference in their wing structure. The dragonfly is more delicate, while the mosquito hawk is a little larger and stronger looking. They come in many colors: red, aqua, blue, copper, brown, green, orange and wine. They skim over the water and rest on small grasses or limbs very briefly and are beautiful. I have many pictures of them if you are interested. If you could tell me how to transport them to your site. packr3002@yahoo.com