Mosquito Hawks? Giant Mosquitoes? Nope. They're Crane Flies!
Around late winter and early spring the District will start getting reports of GIANT mosquitoes. Fortunately, these are not actually mosquitoes but a type of fly known as the crane fly. There are 1,458 species of crane flies that belong in the insect family Tipulidae. Within this family, mosquitoes are a distant relative.
Crane flies range in size from 1/16 inch to 1-1/2 inches long, and they have very long, delicate legs. The larger species have a wingspan of up to 3-inches and are also known as “mosquito hawks,” "giant mosquitoes", “skeeter eaters,” or “daddy long-legs.” Contrary to common belief, they DO NOT feed on blood or eat mosquitoes. They lack the long, needle-like sucking mouth parts of a mosquito. Some adult crane flies have short mouthparts for feeding on flower nectar, but most species have no functional mouthparts and focus only on reproducing during their short adult life stage.
Crane flies are valuable food items for bats, birds, lizards, spiders, and predatory insects. Skunks and other animals may damage lawns while digging for crane fly larvae which are called "leatherjackets".