Facts, Identification

Insect Name

Order Megaloptera


What Do They Look Like?

Found in North and Central America, the dobsonfly is an insect with a frightening appearance.

  • Length: They can up to 12 cm from pincers to wingtips.
  • Body Shape: Their long, thin bodies resemble those of the stick insect.

How Did I Get Dobsonflies?

Dobsonflies are found primarily outdoors near large bodies of water. Dobsonflies develop in running water and are an important insect that adds value to the overall quality of aquatic ecosystems. While this means properties near streams and rivers experience more activity from the pests, it also ensures that they rarely come into homes.

At most, homeowners might notice adult dobsonflies around outdoor lights. An open window near a light source may encourage one of these insects to come inside.

How Serious Are Dobsonflies?


Adult male dobsonflies have long, curved mandibles, but they are harmless to humans. Females and larvae have smaller, sharper pincers that can pierce human skin. Despite their frightening looks and size, these insects are not a danger to people. Dobsonflies only bite when handled roughly, and while the bite is painful, the effects of a bite do not last very long.


Additionally, these insects are not known carriers of any diseases, and they may emit unpleasant odors when threatened.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

What Do They Eat?

Adults typically do not feed. They are attracted to lights and may been seen resting on walls near outdoor light fixtures. Larvae are aquatic and predators of other aquatic organisms. Fisherman sometimes use them as bait for fish.

Habitat & Reproduction

Where Do They Live?

Females lay eggs in fast-moving streams and rivers. Dobsonfly larvae emerge and often hide under rocks and in crevices. They go through a series of molts until they pupate into adults. The larvae become adults after an underwater stage known as hellgrammites.

Larvae Bites – Signs and Symptoms

Typically living under rocks in flowing rivers and streams, hellgrammite larvae feed on small, soft-bodied insects. Their heads are equipped with sharp pincers capable of delivering painful bites to humans. While hellgrammites are not aggressive, bites from these larvae often pierce the skin and cause very minor bleeding.

  • Black Flies
  • Cluster Flies
  • Crane Flies
  • Crane Fly Larvae
  • Deer Flies
  • Face Flies
  • Flesh Flies
  • Life Cycle of Flesh Flies
  • Green Flies
  • Horn Flies
  • Horse Flies
  • Sand Flies
  • Sparaerocierid Flies
  • Yellow Flies
  • Western Cherry Fruit Flies