Don't kill crane flies


July 26, 2008|By Ellen Nibali and Jon Traunfeld | Ellen Nibali and Jon Traunfeld,Special to the Sun

A gigantic mosquito got into our house and scared us to death, but we got it before it got us. Where do they breed?

Those giant "mosquitoes" are a type of crane fly also known as mosquito hawks. Crane flies don't bite, and they don't eat mosquitos. In fact, the adults don't eat at all, but they do live in damp areas and certainly resemble a huge long-legged mosquito. In their immature stage, they are slim brownish larvae and feed on dead plant material. They aren't considered a pest but an aid in decomposition. Next time, just escort your flying visitor out the door. It may have been attracted to your lights.

What is the new weed in my lawn that looks like clover but has a yellow pom-pom for a flower? It's the devil to pull up with its wiry root.

Black medic is a tough weed that tolerates nutrient-poor soils and laughs at drought, so it probably got a hold in last year's drought while your lawn was weakened. This is an annual weed. Try to prevent flowering and seed production. Improve your soil and thicken your turf this fall to outcompete it. Meanwhile, the roots of this legume fix nitrogen in your soil.


*Brush Japanese beetles off foliage into containers of soapy water held underneath.

*Save money on mowing by mowing less often when grass growth slows in dry periods.

Ellen Nibali, a horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and Jon Traunfeld is the director of the Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's help line at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at

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