• Call (800) 479-6583
  • Mon-Fri 8am-5pm
  • |
  • Sat 9am-5pm

How To Control DobsonfliesDobsonfly

Dobsonflies may look threatening to us humans due to their scary appearance and the fact that they have pinchers, they are in fact harmless. They do not carry any harmful diseases and perhaps the worst thing they can do when threatened is emit an unpleasant odor.

Dobsonflies are actually aquatic insects which are essential to the ecosystem and are commonly found around fast moving streams. Adult dobsonflies are among the largest-sized insects in the U.S., and the males have large mandibles up to 1-inch or more in length, making them appear to be quite frightening.

Female dobsonflies deposit their eggs near the water or on vegetation that hangs above a stream. When the eggs hatch, the larvae move into the water. The Dobsonfly larvae are called hellgrammites or dobsons. These hellgrammites live under stones in the stream. Their diet mainly consists of other larvae and small animals. Adult dobsonflies don’t eat anything and mainly mate as their lifespan is complete shortly thereafter.

Dobsonflies are normally not a problem to humans because they rarely if ever venture indoors. If a person does encounter a problem with dobsonflies it may be because they were attracted by lights coming from homes and will leave the comfort zone of water by the allure of outdoor lights that they gravitate towards.

Browse our dobsonfly control products below. If you have any questions or concerns, we are available via phone or online chat to help you with your order or give you advice on control methods.

Why Buy These Products


How To Get Rid of Dobsonflies - Solutions 4 Step Process

At Solutions Pest and Lawn, we have all the tools necessary to eliminate any kind of frustrating pest which includes the dobsonfly. Not only do we have professional-grade products proven to be effective, we can also provide you helpful advice online, live in person at our stores or over the phone to guide you through an effective treatment process to get rid of dobsonflies from your property.


Getting rid of dobsonflies is usually quite easy and often times using pest control chemicals is largely unnecessary as they are harmless and are mainly a curiosity. You can choose to ignore the dobsonfly as they have short life spans and won’t be much of a bother. However, if there are large numbers flocking your home, you may want to do something to repel them from your property.


Step 1: Discourage dobsonflies from hanging around your home by reducing or changing the lighting. Dobsonflies have an affinity for bright and especially incandescent white light. If you live in an area prone to infestations, we recommended managing light as much as possible around your home around night time or replacing white lights with yellow diffused bug light bulbs or light made from high-pressure sodium vapor. You should also do what you can to reduce the amount of light that escape through windows by closing curtains and your shutters tightly.


Step 2: Reduce standing water as much as you can around your home. Dobsonflies like to gather around water sources, mainly to drop their eggs. If you have a pool, keep it covered at night.


Step 3: Vacuuming up dobsonflies which are gathering outside of your home or trying to get in is also an effective way of getting rid of them. Make sure to use a disposable vacuum bag and replace it immediately.


Step 4: If you have a large swarm of dobsonflies near your home or lakeside where you are residing, we recommend using a spray like Essentria IC3 Natural Pesticide. Essentria has a quick contact kill and can be sprayed freely without worry about harming any other aquatic life. Spray Essentria around bushes, trees, your lawns walkways and banisters and all around the lights they tend to gather at.


If your dobsonfly activity is in a place where there aren’t bodies of water, we recommend using a product like Talstar Pro instead. This product will do a great job and will dry clear on the surfaces you treat, however the Essentria because it is all natural, will have a stronger odor of peppermint/spearmint when you do the application and may linger for a few hours after treatment. Talstar, on the other hand, is odorless.


Learn More About The Dobsonflydobsonfly on a leaf

The Dobsonfly isn't a widely known pest that you would think of amongst the array of creepy crawlies you'd find on the planet, however it populates a significant portion of it. The normal reaction after discovering this insect is typically a frightened scream, a startled jump and running as far away from its presence.


Though the scary looking mouthparts of the dobsonfly may convince you otherwise, the dobsonfly is practically harmless, and is a greatly beneficial part of the ecological environment. The species are absolutely not uncommon, they are just hard to find. Their nighttime nature and short life expectancy make them a rare insect to encounter. If you ever do find yourself face to face with this insect, it's best to be educated about it, as they are not your average pest.


Check our More Pests Section To Find Out Info About Other Bugs That Are Bothering You!


Biology Of The Dobsonfly

The Dobsonfly is easily recognized by its long thin appearance. It is normally a dull brown with dark and dim markings, though lighter colored dobsonflies are not uncommon. They are known to grow up to 5 inches long, from mandible to the end of their collapsed wings. These wings can be up to two times the length of the body.


Large mandibles are typical of male dobsonflies while shorter pinchers are found in females. The antennae of the dobsonfly are long and curved and usually segmented. The body of the dobsonfly has a twig-like appearance, and has an overall brown color scheme which helps it to blend well in the forest and woodsy areas though it is mostly an aquatic insect.


The Dobsonfly spends most of its life as a larvae. The adult stage of its development is only a fraction of it's entire life compared to other phases. Between one and five years are spent in the larvae cycle for the dobsonfly. This stage generally happens in aquatic areas.


Once an egg of the dobsonfly hatches it enters into what is called the Hellgammite stage. After hatching, the dobsonfly hellgammite scurries on the stream bottom hunting for food. Before transitioning into adulthood, the Dobsonfly goes into a pupa, or the stage of morphing into an adult where it undergoes a complete metamorphosis.


When the hellgammite is ready to enter the cocoon phase it stays close to the water, staying on or near the shore where it will remain for a number of weeks. The cocoon protects the dobsonfly from the frigid temperatures that exist mainly in the climate of the Eastern Dobsonfly which thrives in North America. The dobsonfly hellgammite has no silk weaving abilities so it creates a basic casing underground which protects it. When it performs its final shedding of skin, the cocoon is complete.The adult life of a dobsonfly is very short compared to it’s duration of being a larvae. As a fully grown adult, the Dobsonfly only lives for a few days. It is at this time that they lay their eggs and make way for a new generation.


dobsonfly on a stickWhere Do Dobsonflies Live?


Dobsonflies usually live on or along bodies of water such as streams. It is important that the streams are not silt based because larvae attach themselves to the bottom of rocks for feeding and protection from predators. They are a very adaptable insect, living in a range of climate condition on continents from Asia, to South America and North America.


The Eastern Dobsonfly in particular lives in a mild climate. This species lives from the Colorado Rockies all the way to Maine, and parts of Canada. There are very few places in this world where the dobsonfly will not be able to survive. A key component of survival of the dobsonfly when it comes to habitat, is the existence of other aquatic insects. The dobsonfly, during it’s Hellgammite phase, eats smaller insects while at the bottom of a stream for its sustenance. Since the majority of the dobsonfly's life is spent as a Hellgammite, a drought or stressed conditions where food or water is scarce could eliminate the population.


Where in the World Are Dobsonflies Found?


The Eastern Dobsonfly(Corydalus cornutus lives) lives mostly in the Eastern region of North America. Dobsonflies in general can be found in a wide range of regions such as Mexico across Central America and into South American countries such as Brazil or Argentina. The dobsonfly is also found in Asia inhabiting regions of China, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia.


The diverse range of places the dobsonfly lives is a testament to its adaptability in various climates. The dobsonfly is able to survive winters when protected by its cocoon underground during the pupation phase. When temperatures are high in the summer, the dobsonfly is most likely a Hellgammite which has a regulated climate as a result of its environment being in water and under rocks. During the adult stage dobsonflies live very briefly, so any extreme conditions would have to kill this insect within a week to make any impact on it's thriving in that location.


Dobsonfly Mating and Reproduction


Male dobsonflies have large menacing looking mandibles, but thats not really to bite or eat, but it’s for the purposes of mating. The mandibles allow the male to hold the female and is to compete against other males who are trying to mate with the female.  The pinchers on females on the other hand are intended for biting insects or any unfortunate human who mishandles the pest.


Dobsonflies only mate when they have reached adulthood which isn’t for very long since they live as adults for about a week. When mating occurs, both male and female will die after all the eggs have been fertilized. The eggs are usually found on logs or rocks on a fresh water stream. The white substance that covers the eggs serves as protection from the elements and from potential predators.


The mating process consists of firstly an egg hatching from which a Dobsonfly larvae emerges, which is essentially a small Hellgammite. After several years of feeding, the Hellgammite emerges from the water to transition into the pupa stage. After a few weeks, the dobsonfly reaches adulthood.. If it is male it will seek a female for mating and compete against other males to fertilize her eggs. If it is a female, her eggs will be fertilized and she will lay them on an area close to a stream to restart the cycle.


Life Cyclehellgrammite

The Dobson fly spends most of its life as a larvae or hellgammite. During this stage it will live underwater where it will feed and shed it’s skin at least 10 to 12 times within the span of 1 to 5 years. When they are ready to pupate they leave the water and then look for a suitable place to dig a cocoon and pupate underground.


After a week or two the dobsonfly will emerge from the ground as a winged adult and will live for about one week for the purposes of mating. After mating is complete the dobsonfly will die because they no longer serve a purpose. When a female lays her eggs they are close to the site where they themselves were born.


Dobsonfly Diet and Eating Habits


Dobsonflies are nocturnal hunters and eat the most during their hellgammite phase of development. Their diet at this time consists of other smaller aquatic insects like caddisflies and blackflies. During adulthood the dobsonfly may not eat much but they have been noticed eating berries and honey in small amounts.


The dobsonfly may look scary but they are actually a benefit to the environment. They eat insects such as mosquitoes and flies when they are still in their larvae stages. As a results, the dobsonfly helps control the population of these pests without damaging the environment around them.


Hellgammites are often used as bait for the purposes of fishing.


Are Dobsonflies A Threat To Humans?


The dobsonfly may look dangerous but they really are harmless. Like we mentioned earlier, the male dobsonflies large mandibles are not used for biting but are used to grasp the female while mating. And they are so long that the male can’t exert enough pressure to hurt you with them.


On the other hand, females have pinchers which are short and sharp which can make your fingers bleed and your eyes water but they aren’t aggressive attackers and will only bite if you mishandle them or purposely let them bite you.


Additional Info:


eastern dobsonfly - Corydalus cornutus (Linnaeus)

Genus Corydalus - Dobsonflies - BugGuide.Net


Dobsonfly - New World Encyclopedia

Contact Us