Fact or fiction: 'Mosquito-hawks' eat mosquitoes - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Fact or fiction: 'Mosquito-hawks' eat mosquitoes

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The spring brings a boom in the number of crane flies, which are known to many people as "mosquito hawks" or "flying daddy longlegs."

The flying creatures are beloved by many Southern Louisianans who say the insects are not to be killed because they eat mosquitoes.

Zack Lemann, the animal and visitor programs manager for the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, busted the myth.

"No, they don't eat mosquitoes, but they also don't bite. And they're very interesting critters!" said Lemann.

Lemann brought nets into a field in order to catch a crane fly and explain the truth about the giant flying creatures that often find their way into homes and garages.

He explained that most types of crane flies only eat decaying plants as they grow up, and the adults usually don't eat anything at all.

Lemann explained that elsewhere in the country, dragonflies are also known as "mosquito-hawks." Dragonflies do eat mosquitoes, so Lemann said that could be where the confusion with crane flies originated.

Lemann said crane flies are harmless. He said a crane fly's main defense mechanism is its ability to shed its legs, and it's a defense they use so often that it's uncommon to find an adult crane fly that spends it's entire two-week life span with all six legs intact.

Since crane flies are so abundant, Lemann said, they're an important food source for many other animals. So he asks New Orleanians to try to still appreciate crane flies - even though they don't eat mosquitoes.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.

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