Read Our Reviews

How to Get Rid of Crane Flies in 5 Steps

September 07, 2019 Vinx Pest Control blog
How to Get Rid of Crane Flies in 5 Steps

If you’re wondering how to get rid of crane flies, you’re in the right place. When I first saw a crane fly, I thought it was a giant mosquito looking at me like I was its next dinner. There’s no doubt that these insects can look scary, and it wasn’t unrealistic to think that they were mosquitos. Thankfully, I was told that crane flies are mostly harmless but very annoying. So, even though I was glad that they weren’t going to eat me, I knew I had to get rid of them.

But before I teach you how to get rid of them, here’s my shameless plug. We’ll do it for you. If you don’t have the time or you just want to make sure the job is done and done right and you live in the DallasFort WorthCharleston, or Greenville, SC areas, then give us a try. Click here to see our crane fly pricing

After a lot of studying, I came up with five simple steps to take to get rid of these frustrating bugs. The good news is that it is possible to get rid of crane flies, but you have to be diligent and attack the problem head-on. It may take some time and work on your part if you don’t call a pest control company, but the reward of fewer crane flies is worth it. To get rid of pesky crane flies, you need to follow these five steps:

  • Identify the crane flies
  • Inspect your yard for their nesting sites
  • Encourage natural predators to cut down on their population
  • Apply insecticide to kill the leatherjacket larvae
  • Prevent them from coming back next season

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re dealing with crane flies, keep reading to learn more about them and how to get rid of them for good.

Crane fly vs mosquito

We often get asked how to identify crane flies when they look so much like mosquitos. It can be difficult! Crane flies look a lot like mosquitos, but they couldn’t be further from the blood-sucking insects if they tried. However, if you’re trying to identify whether you’re dealing with a crane fly or a mosquito, there are a few things to look for. Their sizes are different, their bodies are different, and if you look even closer, their mouths are different.


The first difference between crane flies and mosquitos is their size. Mosquitos are relatively small. They are easy to spot, but there’s also a good chance that they will sneak up on you and you won’t see them. Crane flies, on the other hand, you’d have to have pretty bad eyesight to not see!

Imagine that mosquitos are like dimes, and crane flies are like silver dollars. Quite the size difference! Mosquitos will grow to be about ¼ of an inch. Crane flies can be anywhere from 3/8 inch to over 2 ½ inches big! So, when you think that there’s a giant mosquito headed your way, then chances are, it’s just a crane fly.


Though at first glance crane flies and mosquitos look to be nearly identical, there are many differences. Mosquitos have thicker and shorter bodies. Their legs are closer together and bend more. Their wings are about the size of their body and tend to be right above their abdomen. Crane flies have a long, skinny body with wings that shoot out to the side. Their legs are long and don’t bend nearly as much as mosquitos.

They are also different colors. Mosquitos tend to be more of a brownish color once they’ve fed on blood. Crane flies are harmless and a light brown or gray color. Crane flies also have a pointed end at the bottom of their abdomens. Many people think that this is some sort of stinger, but it’s not. They cannot suck your blood through this point, nor is that how mosquitos get their blood.


One of the most important differences between mosquitos and crane flies is their mouths. Or, perhaps we could say, their lack of. Mosquitos suck up your blood through something called a proboscis. It’s a bit like a sharp straw that pierces your skin and allows them to slurp it up. Gross, right? 

Thankfully, crane flies don’t have a proboscis. In fact, adult crane flies don’t even eat. They only live for a few days, and they never have to eat in that form. Only the larvae eat. So, if you look at a crane fly, you will see a space between its two front legs. On a mosquito, between the front legs, there is a long proboscis which can look a little like a third leg.

Do crane flies eat mosquitos?

Many people believe that crane flies eat mosquitos. They are called mosquito hawks because they are supposed to go after them like hawks and eat them. While that certainly would be beneficial (and we’d all start having crane fly farms), it’s not true. 

Crane flies do not eat mosquitos because adult crane flies don’t eat anything. So, where’d that name come from? Well, it turns out that the myth may not be totally false. Crane fly larvae do eat, and sometimes, they’ll eat mosquito larvae. However, they don’t actively search for the larvae because they mostly eat plants and crops.

What do crane flies eat?

Adult crane flies don’t eat anything. They only live for a few days once they become adults. In fact, they die so quickly that they never need to refuel! So, while these bugs are certainly annoying, they won’t be in your hair for too long.

That being said, crane flies aren’t totally innocent. In fact, they can destroy your yard if you let them run rampant. Because of that, it’s important to get rid of them. Crane fly larvae are super hungry insects. They have to eat a lot to grow so big, and the only way to do that is to feed where they hatched.

Since crane flies lay their eggs in soil, that’s where the larvae eat. These larvae eat off of crops, grasses, and seedling field crops. What that means is that though you may not see them, they are eating at your grass in your yard. You may think that your green grass is here to stay, and then, you’ll find large dead spots in the yard. That’s due to larvae eating the seeds, leaving you without grass. After the long hours mowing, seeding, and taking care of your green yard, you could lose it all!

Crane fly larvae

The real offenders when it comes to crane flies are their larvae. When female crane flies are ready to lay eggs, they find a moist spot in soil or water. They carry the eggs in their abdomen and then put them down to hatch. Once these eggs hatch, the larvae come out looking like little worms. Unlike worms, if you press on their bodies, small tentacle-like appendages will come out. It’s like an insect straight from a horror movie!

Crane fly larvae are incredibly resilient. They have extremely tough skin and some people call them leatherjackets because of this. However, this is not a good thing. Their tough skin makes them hard to kill and get rid of, especially because you often don’t see them at all. Larvae are small worm-like creatures that can be white, green, brown, or translucent. 

When these larvae hatch, they are hungry. Still, that doesn’t mean you will see them. Many crane fly species will emerge at night, making them even harder to kill! When they emerge on warm nights, they feed on your grass, killing it at the root. This makes the grass unable to recover and grow back. While there are some crane flies that are active during the day, most larvae will hide underground until it’s dark enough for them to sneak out.

Do crane flies bite?

We’ve already established that adult crane flies do not bite. They lack a proboscis, like mosquitos, so they are unable to bite, sting, or suck up your blood. But, what about the larvae? Thankfully, even though the larvae are as creepy as can be, they are not able to bite you or anyone in your family—including Fido.

What do crane flies do?

Most of the time, adult crane flies just wander. They are often found bumping into walls, people, structures, and windows. Truth be told, the adults are sort of useless. However, the adults allow the life cycle to continue by laying eggs. 

The larvae like to eat. And while eating isn’t normally a bad thing, it is when it comes to crane flies! They eat a lot, and they eat your yard. We know the hours and commitment to your yard you’ve shown, so to see it all go to waste is heartbreaking. Don’t worry, we’ll totally mourn over your yard with you. Larvae eat your grassroots, so say goodbye to green and hello to brown.

How to kill crane flies

In this world, it’s kill crane flies or watch your yard die. The problem is that by the time you get someone out to kill the crane flies, it could be too late. It starts with the larvae, and by the time you see the adults, you can pretty much guarantee there are larvae everywhere. So, how do you kill these larvae?

Well, you need an insecticide treatment. You can try to do this yourself, but if you need to know how to get rid of crane flies quickly and effectively, you should call out a pest control company, like Vinx, to take care of them.

How to get rid of crane flies

Unfortunately, you can kill all the crane flies you want and that may not make a difference. Though killing them will get rid of the adults or larvae for the time being, it may not be enough to stop them from coming back year after year. To do that, you need to get rid of crane flies for good. Thankfully, that can be done in five simple steps.

If you follow these steps, you’re on your way to finally ridding your home of the crane flies. That means you’ll get your yard back, and you’ll no longer struggle with brown splotches or dead grass again. Here are the five steps you need to take to get rid of crane flies:


The first thing you need to do is identify what you’re dealing with. In this article, we detailed how you can tell whether you’re dealing with crane flies or mosquitos. Since it’s important to distinguish which one you’re dealing with, check to see if the bugs look like crane flies.

If you’re dealing with crane flies, the bugs should be over an inch long, long and skinny bodies, wings that are clear and stick out to the side, and long legs that don’t bend. There should also be no proboscis or mouth on the bugs. If the bugs you’re dealing with match this description, they’re crane flies.

But, what if you’re dealing with larvae? The larvae can be about an inch long, green, brown, or white, and have tentacle-like appendages coming from its body. You will find these bugs amongst the grass, wet soil, or leaves.


Once you’ve identified what bugs you’re dealing with, inspect your yard and try to find where the bugs are coming from. If you can find a spot where they are concentrated, this will give you an idea of why they might be there. Crane flies often seek out wet spots in the yard, meaning that your yard doesn’t have healthy draining capabilities. It’s important to identify where you’ve gone wrong and where you can fix things.

It’s also important to know where you should do the next two steps: encourage natural predators and apply insecticide. While you can try to increase and apply all over the yard, it’s better when you have a concentrated area to work with.


The next step in getting rid of crane flies is encouraging natural predators. There are a few animals that will eat crane flies, but perhaps one of the best is birds. Birds will eat both the larvae of crane flies and the adult crane flies, which will help you to cut down on the amount that you see. When you allow more birds into your yard, there’s a good chance that you will see a cut in the number of bugs in the yard.

To encourage birds to come into your yard, try putting out some bird feeders. This can help them stay nearby, but it will also let them know that there is always food in your yard should they need it. This may seem counterintuitive to feed them when you want them to hunt for crane flies, but it will bring them into the yard and they’ll continue searching for bugs.

Another way to get more natural predators into your yard is by having a safe place for them to reside. If you have a birdhouse where they can live or nest, birds will keep coming back to your yard. While they are there, they will look for nutrient-rich larvae for themselves and their babies. In addition to that, birds can prevent other bugs from laying their eggs. They don’t just get rid of crane flies, but other pests as well. It’s a win-win situation!


Now, it’s important to remember that insecticide is needed to kill these crane flies and prevent the larvae from becoming adults and laying more eggs. However, this is possibly the most difficult step of all. Crane flies have extremely tough skin and often don’t come out during the day. They like to stay hidden, and by doing so, they can be hard to kill.

Many of the insecticides that you can purchase from the store will not be potent enough to kill the leatherjackets. While it may help to cut down on other pests, when crane fly larvae are burrowing underground and away from the insecticide, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to kill them. You need an insecticide that is incredibly strong to kill leatherjackets, and sometimes, only pest control companies can buy the product needed.

Try applying an insecticide all over the yard. Make sure to pay special attention to the spots that are wet or moist as that’s where most of the larvae and eggs will be. If you aren’t seeing a decrease in the number of crane flies, call a reputable pest control company. The products they use are more effective than the ones you can purchase at the store. Also, many pest control companies have guarantees, which mean they will keep coming back out and retreating until the bugs are gone.


The last step to get rid of crane flies is to prevent them from coming back. Whether you’re a DIYer or you call a pest control company, prevention is truly the most important step. There are a few things that you can do to make sure that your yard is set up so that crane flies don’t come back. You need to make your yard healthy so that crane flies don’t want to lay eggs there. So, how do you do this?

The first thing you need to do is check how well your yard drains. Moist areas are heaven for crane flies, so if there are any spots that don’t properly drain, you need to get those fixed. You should also aerate your soil so that it is healthy and not too wet in one area and not the other.

Another thing you need to do is keep your lawn mowed. Mowing your lawn to a healthy height can prevent leatherjackets. This is because when the lawn is healthy, you won’t have to water it as much, which stops the moist soil that crane flies love so much. You’ll also want to keep out extra piles of leaves or wood around. This can attract the environment that crane flies love so much. 

Key Takeaways

  • Crane flies are much larger than mosquitos, and they are also harmless to humans
  • Crane fly larvae feed on grass and kill your lawn
  • Encouraging natural predators can keep crane fly population to a minimum
  • Applying a quarterly pest control treatment can kill the larvae and adults
  • Keep a healthy lawn and ensure everything drains properly around your home to prevent crane flies

Conclusion: How to get rid of crane flies

Though crane flies may be harmless to you, they aren’t harmless to your yard. They will kill your grass and continue to nest in moist areas. Due to this, you need to keep a healthy lawn and apply a quarterly pest treatment. Since insecticide from the store is often not strong enough to kill crane flies, it’s important to find a reputable pest control company that can get rid of the crane fly population in your home.

If you live in the Dallas or Charleston areas, Vinx Pest Control can help get rid of the crane flies around your home for good. We know how annoying it is to find these large bugs around your home or wake up to brown patches in the yard. Because we’ve been there, we’ve tailored our service to specifically attack crane flies. We offer a premium pest control service that will make sure the only leather jacket you see is the leather jacket hanging in your closet. Not only do we apply insecticide with a liquid treatment, but we granulate your yard, which helps to get rid of leather jackets and other pests that hang out in your soil.

Perhaps the best part of Vinx is that we offer a guarantee. If you are still seeing bugs, give us a call. We’ll come out again and retreat for free until they are gone. Our quarterly treatments will get rid of almost all bugs—including crane flies—and the only finger you’ll have to lift is the one you use to give us a call. If you’re sick of seeing crane flies around the house, fill out the form or give us a call for a free quote. We service, Dallas, Plano, Frisco, Rockwall, Garland, Coppell, Farmers Branch, and more in the DFW area! We also service Charleston, SC, Mt Pleasant, North Charleston and that entire area!