Dobsonfly – All You Need To Know

In this article, we cover the dobsonfly and its larval form, hellgrammites, in detail

Dobsonflies are one of the scariest-looking insects on earth. These flies have large mandibles that can grow up to almost an inch and bodies that grow upto half a foot! 

If you are scared of insects, the sight of a dobsonfly will send chills down your spine. 

But are they as dangerous as they look? What do they eat, where do they stay and how likely are you to meet them? Let’s find out.

What Is A Dobsonfly?

Dobsonflies are a species of aquatic insects that are huge in size and look fearsome. Both males and females have mandibles that look like pincers. 

The male adult dobsonflies have bigger mandibles compared to the females. Due to the difference in the size of their jaws, the males look much scarier than the females.

These aquatic insect species are nocturnal and are highly active from late spring to summer.The male jaws, despite their size are largely for show. 

Due to their enormous size, they don’t have the bite force in their chewing muscles to deliver bites than can break past the human skin. 

How Big Are Dobsonflies?

Many different species of dobsonflies are found in the US. In fact, these insects are one of the largest aquatic insects in North America. 

An adult dobsonfly will show an average growth of 2-4 inches in length (excluding the size of the mandibles). 

The males appear bigger due to the presence of long pincer-like jaws that we mentioned earlier. 

The females, on the other hand, have shorter jaws and appear smaller and a little less frightening. 

Male Dobsonfly

The wings of a dobsonfly are grayish-brown and have several vein-like patterns on them. 

Although the accurate average weight of dobsonflies is unknown, they have thin bodies and won’t weigh more than a few ounces. 

They can grow to be equally big during their larval stage as well. 

Since they spend most of their lives in that stage, you might likely meet them as hellgrammites rather than as their final fly form.

What Do Dobsonfly Eat?

Dobsonfly adults live for a very short time and usually do not feed at all. They live off whatever fat they have built up during their earlier life stages.

But the larva is a great aquatic hunter. The aquatic larvae are known as hellgrammites. They live in well-oxygenated and clean waters. 

They are experts in hunting down small insects and fish. Caddisflies, immatures of mayflies, chironomid midges, and stoneflies are some organisms they consume.

Where Do They Live?

Eastern dobsonfly is common in the eastern regions of North America and in some parts of Mexico and Canada. 

You will find them near flowing streams. 

The survival of the larvae highly depends on the water quality. The stream needs to be clean and well-oxygenated. 

You will find them at the base of rocks in aquatic bodies with fast water currents. 

Also, you will be surprised to know that the larvae have gills and easily survive in water without coming out to the surface for air.  

Male Dobsonfly

Life Cycle of A Dobsonfly

The life cycle of these bugs starts when the males start looking for females to start mating. 

In many cases, these insects are seen jousting with other males to grab the attention of the females during mating and earn mating rights. 

After mating, the female searches for a suitable spot to lay the eggs. 

These females often select spots on structures flowing above the water surface. Sometimes they go for rocks near the edge of the stream as well. 

The eggs are covered with a white film that protects them from being destroyed in the heat.

These eggs hatch during nighttime. As soon as the larvae come out crawl directly into the water. Each mating cycle produces around 10-12 larval instars.

They feed on these waters for around 1-3 years before entering the pupation stage.

Before starting pupation, they come to the surface, where they enter the moist soil to become a pupa.

It takes around 7-14 days for the adults to emerge from the ground. These adults don’t live for long and spend most of their time mating and continuing the cycle.

Hellgrammite

 

Do Dobsonfly Bite?

Dobsonfies can bite, but surprisingly, the bites from the males are not harmful. 

This is because they don’t have strong chewing muscles that are good enough to transfer biting force to their enormous jaws. 

The females have shorter jaws and are capable of delivering painful bites. The bites are strong enough to break past the human skin and cause bleeding. 

Do Hellgrammite Bite?

Unlike male dobsonflies, hellgrammites have short but sharp jaws. 

These jaws are capable enough to deliver excruciating pain through bites. Therefore you must be careful around these aquatic larvae. 

Are They Poisonous/Venomous?

No dobsonflies and hellgrammites are not poisonous or dangerous in nature. Yes, the bites from females and larvae can be painful, but they won’t cause fatal injury or illness. 

Are They Harmful to Humans?

Male dobsonflies may look intimidating and scary, but they are entirely harmless to humans

The large mandibles are not equipped with chewing muscles strong enough to generate a solid biting force. 

The females have shorter jaws that can break past human skin and cause bleeding. But thankfully, they are not poisonous at all. 

The bites will cause temporary problems like bleeding, irritation, redness, and swelling but won’t have any long-term fatal effects. 

Hellgrammite

Can They Come Inside Homes?

Since they mostly live around clean streams with high currents, there are fewer chances of them entering your home. 

However, if your house is near a clean water body, adults might come near your house as they are highly attracted to light in dark. 

What Are Dobsonfly Attracted To?

As mentioned in the sections above, these insects are nocturnal creatures and are highly attracted to light sources during the night. They have a tendency to fly toward a light source. 

Dobsonfly Defense Mechanisms &Structural Adaptations 

Dosbsonflies have developed an interesting set of defense mechanisms and structural adaptations to help them survive as adults and larvae. 

Here are a few of the notable defense mechanisms and adaptations:

Defense mechanisms:

These insects have huge mandibles that are almost an inch in length. 

While the males can’t generate enough bite power to deliver painful bites, they use them to fight other males and defend themselves against predators. 

Also, they give them a fearsome appearance to insects, which works to keep predatory dangers away.

Like many other insects, they also release a foul smell when they sense danger. This happens because they have Malpighian tubules in their excretory system. 

These tubes emit a foul-smelling odor which helps to keep predators away.

Their enormous size is a great way to look more dangerous. This keeps humans and other dangers away from approaching these insects. 

Birds are one of the biggest predators of hellgramites. Therefore, the females lay eggs in clusters. They are arranged in three layers and are protected by a white fluid. 

This fluid protects them from the heat and makes the cluster look like bird droppings. As a result, birds ignore it and fly past it. 

Structural adaptations:

As mentioned above, hellgrammites are excellent predators. These insects have an advanced touch and chemical sensing that they use to hunt more efficiently. 

This touch and chemical sensing, paired with their visual ability, goes great for hunting down small aquatic insects.

Hellgrammites have terminal hooks at the end of their body. This helps them to clasp onto rocks to stay still in running water bodies. 

This adaptation helps them a lot to hunt insects without getting swept by the current. 

Dosbsonflies use scent to find mating partners. They have glands near the abdomen which secrete these odors. 

The larvae have the ability to breathe in water and on land as well. They have eight pairs of appendages.

These look like pairs of legs and have gills attached to them.

Female Dobsonfly

How To Get Rid of Dobsonfly?

There is ver little chance of dobsonflies entering your homes because they live for very little time as adults. But if they do, here are some tips to get of them:

Since these insects barely cause any problems and are harmless, if you don’t threaten them, you can leave them be. 

The adult doesn’t live for long, so they’ll probably die voluntarily and walk out of your home. 

If you can’t bear the sight of these fearsome-looking insects near your house, you can use pesticides to drive them off. 

The most effective way is to use a dry insecticide. Make a dilute solution by mixing an ounce of insecticide in one gallon of water. 

Store the solution in a spray bottle and sprinkle it on areas where you see these insects. 

Since they are highly attracted to lights, you can place traps near a light source to catch these flies and get rid of them instantly. 

Male Dobsonfly

Fascinating Facts About Dobsonfly

Here are a few things you would love to learn about these insects:

  1. Adult dobsonflies barely consume any solid food substance. The females, on rare occasions, might feed on nectar, but the males barely need any food to survive.
  2. Dobsonflies have a short life span as adults. They spend the majority of their adult lives searching for mating, fighting for mating rights, and mating. 
  3. The dobsonfly larvae are one of the rare insects that can survive on land and underwater. 
  4. Dobsonflies have a strange way of flying but can cover great distances using their wings.
  5. At the end of the mating process, some species of male dobsonflies give nutrient-rich spermatophores to females as gifts. 

Female Dobsonfly

Frequently Asked Questions 

What happens if a dobsonfly bites you?

If a male dobsonfly bites you, there will hardly be any pain. But if a female bites you, it will be highly painful. 
Female bites can easily break past the human skin and cause problems like bleeding, pain, and irritation. These bites are not poisonous and won’t cause any fatal injuries.

What does a Dobson fly eat?

Adult dobsonflies do not eat; they spend their short adult life mating. The larvae are great hunters. 
They are carnivorous in nature and are experts in hunting down aquatic insects found in clean water streams with high currents. They can also hunt small fish.

Can you hold a dobsonfly?

You can hold a male dobsonfly but do not try to hold or pick up a female dobsonfly. The females have the ability to deliver painful bites. 
These bites can cause bleeding. You should also not hold a dobsonfly larva; they can also bite with good force. Wear safety gloves if you want to touch these insects.

How long do Dobson flies live?

Dobsonfly larvae live from 1-3 years underwater. Here they actively hunt and consume insects to stay healthy. 
The adults, however, do not survive for a long time, the males die within a few days, and the females can live up to 10 days.

Wrap Up

Dobsonflies might look fearsome, but they are nowhere near dangerous to humans. 

Especially the males might look too scary with those huge mandibles but are not capable of causing any harm to humans and pets. 

If you ever encounter these insects, there is no need to be scared, as long as you don’t threaten them, they won’t do a thing. Thank you for reading the article. We hope it was informative.

Reader Emails

Over the years, we have been blessed with a vast collection of dobsonfly and hellgrammite sightings from all over the world through our readers.

Please go through some of the emails and comments below to watch these bugs in their natural habitat.

Letter 1 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Interesting KY Find Location: South of Mammoth Cave Karst area June 15, 2013 6:20 am I live near Bowling Green, Ky in the Drake community. I found this insect on my front porch. I do not recall having ever seen one before now. It has not survived, but was still alive when I saw it and took the picture. About 4.5 inches long with a very slender, soft body. Pointed protuberances from the head with additional feelers. When the wings were stroked, it reared up to try and get to whatever was disturbing it. Can you help me identify this insect and is it indigenous to my region? Thanks in advance. Signature: Meg Pennington
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Meg, Nate from Bowling Green sent us a similar image, albeit a lower resolution format, and included only the tersest of information:  “Subject: moth?  Location: bowling green  June 14, 2013 8:33 am  Found on my porch today. 6/14/13.”  We haven’t had a chance to respond to him yet, but we will be posting your submission because of the higher resolution as well as the chattier message you submitted.  This is a male Dobsonfly.  Despite his frightening appearance, he is quite harmless.  Those scimitar-like mandibles did not evolve for either either eating or for biting attackers, but rather, we suspect they are used between males when vying for the attentions of a prospective mate, or for mating purposes.  We are always hoping to someday receive photos that will confirm one or both of our suspicions.  Female Dobsonflies have much more practical mandibles that are capable of producing a nip if they are carelessly handled.  The predatory larvae which are known as Hellgrammites, are a prized bait for freshwater fishermen and they can also deliver a nip, though they are not dangerous.  David Gracer indicates that Hellgrammites are edible, and we suspect adult Dobsonflies might also be edible.  Hello Daniel, Thank you for your swift response!  I have encountered several wonderful (or startling) specimens in this rural area.  I will continue to be observant for any ‘new’ insects where I live.  Have a wonderful day!! Respectfully, Meg P

Letter 2 – Gray Fishfly, possibly California Dobsonfly

 

Bug on the Wall
I reside In Merlin, Oregon. This wonderful bug is on our garage outside wall but the light. It looks like one of the bugs on your site but I can’t tell for sure. I would love to know his name.
Barbara, Merlin, Oregon USA



Hi Barbara,
This is a Gray Fishfly in the genus Neohermes. They are distinguised from other members of the family Corydalidae by the moniliform antennae that are like a string of beads. Bugguide does not explain how to tell the various species from one another, but seeing as you are on the west coast, this is probably the California Dobsonfly, Neohermes californica.

Letter 3 – California Dobsonfly or Gray Fishfly

 

Dobsonfly Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 9:06 PM I’m pretty sure this is a female Dobsonfly. It’s not a bad photo, thought you might like to add it to your archives. She was in our kitchen this evening but is now safely back outside. Ann R. Auburn Area – California
California Dobsonfly
California Dobsonfly
Hi Ann, The California Dobsonfly, Neohermes californicus, is in the same family as the Dobsonfly, Corydalidae, but it is classified in a different genus.  According to BugGuide, the California Dobsonfly is actually a Gray Fishfly, and its antennae are quite different from the eastern Dobsonfly.

Letter 4 – California Dobsonfly

 

Unknown Bug From San Diego County July 28, 2009 Found this Bug on the side of a shaded rock adjacent to perrenial creek with a really low water flow. Found it during the day on July 20. When I approached it to photograph it it did not move away at all. Frank Santana Boulder Creek, San Diego California
California Dobsonfly
California Dobsonfly
Hi Frank, Our reference book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin by Charles Hogue, identifies this as a California Dobsonfly, Neohermes californicus.  This is a distinct genus from the eastern Dobsonfly, Corydalus cornutus, which is a much larger insect and can be viewed on our site as well as on BugGuide.  Your specimen is classified on BugGuide as a Gray Fishfly in the genus Neohermes, but there is no page devoted to Neohermes californicus.  There is an acknowledgment on the genus page that the species Neohermes californicus is known as the California Dobsonfly.  We provide this background information because when we did a web search of California Dobsonfly, we found some wonderful images on BugGuide that referenced out own website as a source.  Interestingly, those photos from El Dorado County in northern California were taken the same day as your photo.  Since it is not terribly professional to cite oneself when doing research, we wanted more assurance that we could properly identify your impressive creature.  So, for clarification, your insect is Neohermes californicus, a Gray Fishfly sometimes called the California Dobsonfly.

Letter 5 – California Dobsonfly

 

insect that was two inches long not counting antennae. Location:  Temecula, CA August 10, 2010 8:07 pm This insect reminded me of that disturbing movie ”Mimic” some years ago. It was on the wall by the entry, and not counting the antennae it was about two inches long from head to end of wings. I’ve never seen one of these in the twenty years we’ve been in this house. Any ideas? I thought about it but I did release it. Gene
California Dobsonfly
Hi Gene, We love the movie Mimic and we actually wrote about it in our upcoming book.  The California Dobsonfly in your photo is not nearly the threat to humanity that the mutated predators in Mimic pose.  The California Dobsonfly, Neohermes californica, does not feed as an adult.
California Dobsonfly

Letter 6 – California Dobsonfly

 

Mystery Bug Location: Shingle Springs, CA August 6, 2011 3:52 am I just moved to the country, and the first thing I’ve noticed is this huge bug that looks like a mutated dragonfly. I’ve trying searching images for it but I really had no where to begin. So here is a nice close up picture for you in the hopes you will know! Signature: Niki
California Dobsonfly
Hi Niki, This is a California Fishfly, Neohermes californicus, which Charles Hogue refers to as the California Dobsonfly in his book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin.  You can see some additional photos on BugGuide as well as on CalPhotos.  BugGuide provides additional information on the genus info page.  Charles Hogue indicates that it is a stream loving species with aquatic larvae that are adapted to going dormant during dry periods.

Letter 7 – California Dobsonfly, we suppose

 

Subject: Is it a…moth? Location: Lassen Volcanic National Park, California July 15, 2014 9:45 pm This was on a door at the Drakesbad Guest Ranch in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Everyone said this is a moth, but it doesn’t look like any moth I’ve seen. What’s that bug? Signature: StephenBugged
Fishfly
Fishfly may be California Dobsonfly
Dear StephenBugged, This is a Fishfly in the family Corydalidae, however, your image lacks the necessary clarity to determine a more specific identification.  The shape of the wings is a bit unusual, especially the tips.  Our best guess is that this might be a California Dobsonfly, Neohermes californicus.  Of particular note are the claspers at the tip of the abdomen, which matches the claspers on the abdomen of this individual on BugGuide. Daniel — I accidentally had uploaded the out-of-focus shot. Here’s the in focus version: Does this help or change your thoughts about this being a California Dobsonfly? Stephen
California Dobsonfly, we suppose
California Dobsonfly, we suppose
Dear Stephen, Thanks for sending a sharper image, but we still can’t make out the details in the antennae that we would like to see.

Letter 8 – California Dobsonfly

 

Subject: What’s this bug? Location: California June 8, 2015 1:28 am Hi! I found this wicked-looking bug that freaked my cousin out quite a bit. It looks vaguely ominous, so I trapped it in a jar (with breathing holes!) until I could do more research. I’ll set it free tomorrow. I think it may be a female dobsonfly…? I’m not sure. Signature: DLM
California Dobsonfly
California Dobsonfly
Dear DLM, This is an insect in the order Megaloptera, and we matched your individual to an image on BugGuide that is identified as Neohermes californicus.  There is no common name according to BugGuide, but Charles Hogue’s marvelous book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin calls it a California Dobsonfly.
California Dobsonfly
California Dobsonfly
Thank you so, so much! Khephra Owl, Department of Mysteries, Order of Merlin, First Class

Letter 9 – California Dobsonfly

 

Subject: What in the world is this bug? Location: Bella vista, ca June 6, 2016 9:08 am This bug was just sitting on the wall for about a week not moving, then suddenly flew away. Signature: Laura Merrill
California Dobsonfly
California Dobsonfly
Dear Laura, Though it is commonly called a California Dobsonfly, Neohermes californicus is actually a related Fishfly in a distinct subfamily.  According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “This is a stream-loving species … it is common in higher elevations.”  Here is a matching image from BugGuide.

Letter 10 – California Dobsonfly

 

Subject: They’re huge! LOL Location: Tuolumne, CA July 19, 2017 12:00 pm No idea what kind of insect this is but it is on our front porch with some of its friends. Any insight would be helpful. Thanks! Signature: Heather
California Dobsonfly
Dear Heather, We are quite confident, because of the moniliform or beadlike antennae, this is Neohermes californicus based on this BugGuide image.  BugGuide does not provide a common name, but Charles Hogue, in his awesome book Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, calls this a California Dobsonfly.

Letter 11 – California Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Found in Danville Ca. Location: Danville, California August 5, 2017 1:08 pm My friend texted me this pic of a cool bug. She’s disgusted, I think it’s awesome. Any idea what it is? Signature: Michell
California Dobsonfly
Dear Michell, We agree with you that this California Dobsonfly, Neohermes californicus, is awesome.  We are surmising there is a stream near where this Danville sighting occurred.

Letter 12 – Female Dobsonfly eats Blueberries and lays Eggs

 

Blueberries for Bailey
Hi, and thanks for such a wonderful website! Thanks to your site we were able to identify our dobsonfly. My boys named her Bailey. We’d also like to confirm that adult females do eat. I read they liked blackberries but having none I substitued blueberries and she does indeed like them. I have video of her mouthparts working the blueberry. She lives in this cage but freely comes and goes at will as the top of the cage is open. Our question is has she laid eggs? There is a frothy looking white patch in the third picture. Thanks a billion bugs!
Mary, Cal, and Cade
P.S. If these pics are too big I can resize them. I wasn’t sure what works best for you.



Hi Mary, Cal and Cade,
This is an exciting submission for us. We have always believed that adult Dobsonflies do not eat. We will see what Eric Eaton has to say about the blueberry diet. Additionally, we do believe Bailey has laid eggs. The Featured Creatures website states: “Eggs : Dobsonfly eggs are gray, cylindrical and a little less than 1.5 mm in length and 0.5 mm in width. They are laid in clusters (about 2 cm in diameter) with an average of approximately 1,000 eggs/cluster (Baker and Neunzig 1968, Mangan 1992.). The eggs are arranged in three layers, and the egg mass is covered with a clear fluid by a brushing motion of the tip of the female’s abdomen. The clear fluid dries to a white color. Superficially, the egg masses resemble large bird droppings. ” That seems like an accurate description of what your photo depicts.

Letter 13 – Female Dobsonfly

 

What the bug???
I found this guy hanging in the shade. Makes me want to reconsider my affinity for bare-footin! I showed the picture to my dad and he thinks it looks like a gi-mungus termite??? He’s 2+ inches long and bark colored… The closest thing I found on the interned was a "Devil’s Coach Horse? But this guy’s got wings? I’m located in Southeast Pennsylvania. Help? What’s the bug? Thanks,
Jonzy
Skippack, PA
aka- Home of the industrial sized insects!



Hi Jonzy,
If you think your female Dobsonfly is large and impressive, just check out the jaws on the much larger male Dobsonfly we just posted to our site.

Letter 14 – Female Dobsonfly

 

what is this bug?
Hi, I found this bug outside my apartment in Athol, Massachusetts. I’ve never seen anything like it! What is it?
Melissa Paige



Hi Melissa,
Why, it’s our featured Bug of the Month, a Dobsonfly. Your specimen is a female.

Letter 15 – Female Dobsonfly

 

what is this?
I would like to find out what this is. I live outside of Austin, west, and this thing showed up on my shed about 3 or 4 days ago.
Thanks,
tim



Hi Tim,
Your somewhat blurry photo marks what we expect to be the beginning of a swarm of queries regarding the Dobsonfly. Your specimen is a female.

Letter 16 – Female Dobsonfly

 

creepy thing
what in the world is this? I found it and many others attached to some cattle that were being moved to a feed lot in KS. About 4 inches long, mean and smelled like rotten flesh. So stong in fact it was gagable to sniff them.
Thanks,
Mark
Oklahoma City



Hi Mark,
We are usually innundated with requests to identify Dobsonflies from May through July. Your specimen is early. She is a female. We have never heard about the offensive smell you describe. Are you sure it wasn’t the cows?

Letter 17 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Dobsonfly picture
Dear "What’s That Bug",
Some friends of mine and I were amazed and yet very scared of this huge bug attached to our dorm-room side door. We attend Bible college, are from ages 18-24, and yet we’re very freaked out by this thing that looked like it could eat our soul. It was definitely dying, but still… We took pictures and went around online looking for it and found your site (and we now assume it’s a Dobsonfly). Does this thing bite? Also… did Japan use this bug as a basis for Mothra? Thanks for making our search quick and easy,
~Scared JBC Students
P.S. Wow! God has creativity!



Dear Scared Students,
Evolution and Natural Selection truly are wondrous. The Dobsonfly does not eat as an adult. The male has formidible pincher jaws used in mating and the female has more useful jaws for biting and she will bite for defense. It is very necessary for her to be able to protect herself before she lays her eggs. We are not really sure what the actual inspiration for Mothra was, but we assume it was a Saturnid Moth.

Letter 18 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Dear Bugman:
Is the attached creepy bug a female dobson fly? It measures approx 4-5 inches from pincher to bottom of wings. We found in on our window screen early in the morning in early July. It appears to avoid daylight, and is rather docile. We live near Harrisburg, PA , approximately 2 miles from the large Susquehanna River. Thanks for any information you have. Regards
Joe



Hi Joe,
Beautiful and artful photo of a female Dobsonfly.

Letter 19 – Female Dobsonfly: Cooled down for her closeups!!!

 

Our First Dobsons Fly !!!
Hello WTB,
My wife and I came home to this strange creature last evening resting on the inside of our garage door. We live in north central Iowa about 30 minutes south of the Minnesota border. Never seen such a frightening looking bug!!! Had no idea what it was!! We called our local nature center and they tried to convince us that that it was an Earwig. Seen too many of those to know better and the mandibles were on the wrong end anyway!!! I just wasn’t buying that so after a long while browsing the internet and every imaginable entomology sight we could think of we finally stumbled across your terrific web page and soon had the answer we were looking for. **** DOBSON FLY – Female!!!***** This girl measured 2 3/4" long from the tip of the mandibles to the end of the wings. The wing span was almost 4" when open. She had quite an attitude and would put on an amazing display of courage if you got to close. Sent along some digital photos for you. One of our local university entomology web sights described how to refrigerate the specimen for about an hour making very sure not to freeze her. This worked amazingly well to slow this fiery beast down so we could get some close-ups. The photos were done quickly and then we took her outside and rested her in a bush outside our living room window. She warmed quickly in the 80+ degree morning sun and was back to her marauding self in a matter of seconds. When last seen she was working her way deep into the center of the bush and when we checked this evening she was gone. Never seen anything like this in my almost 50 years of living in this area!!! What a amazingly horrifying treat she was!!! Your photos of the males are even more ferocious. Thanks for a great informational web sight. We will check back often.
Mike and Diane K.



Hi Mike and Diane,
What a wonderful letter. The female Dobsonfly is more aggressive than the male despite his formidible looking mandibles. Apparently his jaws serve some mating purpose that we can only cringe at. The female uses her more manageable mandibles not to eat, since adults do not eat, but to defend herself against anything that tries to eat her before she can lay eggs. Thanks for the great photos as well.

Letter 20 – Female Dobsonfly

 

dobson fly
Hello, I’m in Ithaca, NY & I saw a Dobson Fly the other day and was curious about it. Someone told me to check out your site because you have a lot of info on it…so I did and I think it’s very helpful! I took a piture of the one we found and I’ll send it over to you. Feel free to post it if you’d like! I used a camera phone, so it’s not the best picture, but I think it serves its purpose. Thanks again for running such a cool site! And damn, that was the biggest insect I’ve ever seen!
Andrea



Hi Andrea,
Just wait until you see a male Dobsonfly

Letter 21 – Dobsonfly Female

 

Just another Dobsonfly Photo…
I live in Central PA near the Conodoguinet creek and the Susquehanna river. I am glad to see the Dobsonfly in our area, as they are proof positive that these bodies of water are doing well. I have been seeing a few each summer. Just one question, how far do these insects travel from water after emerging? We live 2-3 miles from both of these bodies of water. Why would they travel so far? I do have a small drainage stream behind my house. It is only a few inches deep most of the year and has been known to almost completely dry up in long summer droughts. I have seen no signs of aquatic life back there but the drainage field is only at the bottom of my road and I am sure there are things living in there. Could hellgrammites be living in either this small stream or the drainage field? I don’t imagine the water quality is too good in either case due to the fact that they are fed completely by runoff from the local streets and yards. I would think that the levels of miscellaneous chemicals and petroleum products are quite high. I have always been told that hellgrammites need clean flowing water to thrive. Any ideas?
Jason



Hi Jason,
Often the old texts have obsolete information when it comes to names and classification, but they often contain valuable observations. Here is something written by Comstock: “Corydalus.–The only member of this genus in our fauna is Corydalus cornutus. This is a magnificent insect, which has a wing-expanse of from 100 to 130 mm. …[The male] has remarkable long mandibles. The female resembles the male, except that the mandibles are comparatively short. The larva are called dobsons or hellgrammites by anglers and are used by them for bait, expecially for bass. … These larvae live under stones in the beds of streams. They are most abundant where the water flows swiftest. They feed upon the naiads of stone-flies and May-flies and on other insects. … When about two years and eleven months old, the larva leaves the water and makes a cell under a stone or some other object on or near the bank of the stream. This occurs during the early part of the summer; here the larva changes to a pupa In about a month after the larva leaves the water, the adult insect appears. The eggs are then soon laid; these are attached to stones or other objects overhanging the water. They are laid in blotch-like masses, which are chalky white in color and measure from 12mm. to nearly 25 mm. in diameter. A single mass contains from two thousand to three thousand eggs. When the larvae hatch they at once find their way into the water, where they remain until full-grown.” So, if you live 2-3 miles from the body of water, my assumption is that they are carried by the wind since they are not particularly strong fliers.

Letter 22 – Female Dobsonfly

 

new bug
I found this guy very early this AM about 5:25 on my morning walk. I had to put him in a paper towel to bring him home as he has nasty large pinchers. Look at how he is pinching the paper towel, I’m glad that wasn’t my fingers. Anyways, I looked on the web to see what kind of a bug he is and the closest I can find is a dobsonfly, snakefly and a fishfly, but yet he doesn’t look quite like them and he seems bigger than they are? I’m going to send a pix into the "what kind of bug is this" website and see what they say. I brought him home and put him in the fridg, they get cold and can’t move then you can take pix of them. 🙂 found that out the with moths, they become quite docile when cold.
Judy Schrader
Wildlife Paintings and Nature Art



Hi Judy,
You are a tricky photographer. You don’t have a guy, but a gal. You have a female Dobsonfly. We linked to your site so people can see your fabulous artwork.

Letter 23 – Female Dobsonfly

 

dobson
Hi there,
I love your site. I took this photo of a dobson fly in Perry County, PA, this past weekend. Use it if you wish or toss it out.
Galen Kreiser



Hi Galen,
Thanks for the compliment, and we love your photo of a female Dobsonfly.

Letter 24 – Female Dobsonfly

 

What kind of bug is this?
What kind of bug is this? It was 2 inches in length.
Thanks!
Craig Vallelunga



Hi Craig,
What a puny specimen of a Dobsonfly you saw. Yours is a female recognizeable by her smaller mandibles. Check out our Dobsonfly page for some photos of behemoths.

Letter 25 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Never seen one like this before
Greetings from East Central Indiana
I found this critter on my screen door that is illuminated by a 60 watt porch light last night at about 11pm. I will admit I am new (3 years, going on 4) to rural Indiana but I have never seen a bug quite like this one. It’s 3 inches long, two antenne, a pair of pinchers on the head that give it a formidable, menacing look. It’s underbody is about an inch and a half long (It wasn’t too keen on rolling over for me), and when provoked will raise it’s head and pinchers for an even more menacing look. The wings are somewhat lacey, and when It’s in docile, head down mode it looks more like a leaf than a bug….
Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated…. Thanks in advance
PS – 3 pictures attached to this mail, jpeg format, taken with Sony digital
Jeff G.



Hi Jeff,
We have an entire page devoted to Dobsonflies. Just click the link in the alphabatized list on the left side of the www.whatsthatbug.com homepage. Your specimen is a female.

Letter 26 – Dead Female Dobsonfly

 

what is this thing??
OK….I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I work for a pest control company!
It’s brownish and black, has four distinct wings (rather large, too), and they’re not touching, it’s eyes are on either side of it’s head, two big big mandibles with sharp serrated like things inbetween them. His body has a head, neck, two body segments, and then a long tail piece. He has 6 legs. I know my nomenclature is totally off, but what do you think? He’s about 2.5 inches long. Need a picture?
Thanks so much!
Suzanne



Hi Suzanne,
You most definitely have a dead female Dobsonfly. The photo I sent to you was of a male, which have bigger jaws. Your photos are awesome, and I’m sure they will have our readers screaming.


Thanks so much for ID’ing it. We thought we’d found some sort of prehistoric creature 🙂 I guess I can toss it now, it’s getting kind of stinky 🙂 Thanks
Suzanne

Actually Suzanne, prehistoric is not so far fetched. Dobsonflies are nerve winged insects of the order Neuroptera and are among the most primitive insects that undergo complete metamorphosis.

Letter 27 – The Dobsonflies are Swarming! Female Dobson Fly

 

WTB,
Wow! What a great website and service you are providing.
Yesterday 5/10/04 while working in the garden in South Jersey, I was nearly run over by a female Dobson fly!
I didn’t know what it was. I thought maybe a lace wing but when I looked it up on the web, I knew it wasn’t. Thus began my search to identify this beautiful insect. I found your site and was happy to see all of the recent postings on Dobson flies. I’d like to learn about it’s life cycle and what it feeds upon but when I go to the link at the left that you spoke of , it takes me right back to the e-mails again.
My 5 year old daughter (and future entomologist, i think) was absolutely fascinated by her. Everytime we took the fly and placed it onto a tomato plant it would fly to her and land on her!
"Look Daddy, it likes me."
Too cool…………
Nick Pinizzotto
Pittsgrove, NJ

Letter 28 – Dobsonflies: male and female

 

What is this bug???
Good day bugman,
My husband & I were out walking my dog the other night when this bug just crash landed, almost at my husbands feet. We live in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Thankfully, I always carry my camera with me and, naturally had to get down on the ground (in the middle of the bridge) to get pictures of this strange creature. We’ve never seen one quite like this. He (or she) was approximately 2 1⁄2” to 3” long from the back end to the tips of the antennae. He (or she) stayed in it’s place long enough for me to get my pictures, only moving the wings when large vehicles drove by (thankfully because I really am a coward and can take pictures as long as it doesn’t decide to fly at me – yikes!)
Debi Duff



Hi Debi,
Your creature is a male Dobsonfly. We will be posting your letter with another that arrived today of a female Dobsonfly. Dobsonflies exhibit marked sexual dimorphism, with males having long pointed mandibles.

Female Dobsonfly
(06/30/2008) Large bug
Hello,
Could you give me some help identifying this insect? This large one with several other smaller ones appeared on our front porch recently. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks…
Patrick Buckland



Hi Patrick,
We are posting your photo along with a photo of a male Dobsonfly that arrived today. Also, there is a photo of a similar looking Fishfly as comparison.

Letter 29 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Female dobsonfly or fishfly
Thanks to the info on your site, I know this is one or the other. I found this insect on the outside of my house in the southwest Chicago suburbs. I thought you might like these photos. Great site,
Zach Smolinski



Hi Zach,
This is a female Dobsonfly. You can distinguish her from a Fishfly because of the antennae. The antennae of Fishflies are feathered.

Letter 30 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Giant winged bug attacks helpless family in KY!
OK, so I have a confession: This bug didn’t actually attack us, and we probably aren’t helpless. But it was giant! And winged! It terrified my daughters and I, as we had never seen this type of bug before. My husband swatted it down, but not before I could snap a couple of pics. They aren’t the best pics, but I really didn’t want to get too much closer. 😮 About the bug: It was resting on the window air conditioner above the sink in our kitchen. It had large mandibles and really long wings. It looked like a mean monstrous thing! Could you help me identify it, and tell me whether it bites, so that I can avoid panicking in the future (if it poses no threat to humans)? From looking at your site, I thought perhaps it might be an antlion? Thanks so much for any help!
Heather



Hi Heather,
Your fierce looking insect is a Dobsonfly. Dobsonflies and Antlions are in the same insect order, Neuroptera. This is a female Dobsonfly. She does have strong mandibles, and if she bites, she may pierce the skin, but she is basically harmless and does not have venom. Interestingly, the mandibles of the male Dobsonfly are even more frightening looking, but he is totally harmless. We should try to do some research on why, exactly, the male Dobsonfly has such unusual mandibles. We have long suspected it is related to the mating ritual, courtship, or perhaps the establishment of a dominant male. Dobsonflies do not eat as adults. Here is what BugGuide has to say: “The huge mandibles of the males are used to grasp the females during mating. The females, with much smaller jaws, can apparently bite more effectively. Although neither male nor female feed in the adult stage, they may use their mandibles for self-defense. “


Update: (06/15/2008) A heartfelt thank-you, and a rebuttal!
Hello again.
First, I’d like to thank you for identifying the female Dobsonfly photo (on 6-12-08) that I sent in. Second, I find myself compelled to comment on the e-mail that ‘Truly Candid Girl’ sent to you on 6-14-08 about “repeats”. I’d like to say that looking at several pics of the same bugs helps me to identify them. One pic cannot possibly show all the different sides, angles, sizes, and colors of a particular bug. I think “repeats” are necessary if you truly want to learn about a bug! And last, I LOVE your site! I have always been the type of girl that highly disliked bugs, and when I would see one, I’d say “Eww, bug!” and squash it if possible. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve fallen in love with bugs, but this site has evoked a curiosity in me. Every time I see a bug that I’m not familiar with, I want to know what it is, and I always come to this site. It’s a much better alternative to swatting, squishing, or running! Thank you so much for helping me to overcome my fear bit-by-bit, and keep up the good work!
Heather P

Letter 31 – Female Dobsonfly: Forced Perspective

 

Scared the heck outa my kids
My kids found this creature on the back porch of my home and thought we were being invaded by aliens. I was able to get several good photos and thought you might like to see them. I found it on your site and believe it to be a female Dobsonfly. You have a wonderful website and I use it often. Thanks,
Matt O.



Hi Matt,
This awesome photo is probably not going to help many of our readers identify a female Dobsonfly, but we love the way the forced perspective makes her appear to be 20 feet long rather than 3 inches, which is still very big for an insect. She may nip with those scary looking mandibles, but she is not dangerous.

Letter 32 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Dobson Fly
I saw this critter outside my apartment in Ann Arbor, MI tonight. I have lived in Michigan for 22 years and have never seen this before. Though I recently moved to Ann Arbor from near Detroit. There are a lot more trees and rivers here. There is about an 8 foot wide stream about 100 feet from my front door so I assume that is where they live. I saw all the photos but this once seems to have good detail of the wings if you want to use it. It took ten tries to get a clear picture at night.
Frank



Hi Frank,
The female Dobsonfly can be identified by her far less impressive, but considerably more formidable mandibles.

Letter 33 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Dobsonfly pictures
Hi!
Found this bug in Llano, Texas by the Llano River. Snatched her off of a tree for a photo op. Wikipedia says females have a noxious spray that they release when provoked, but I didn’t get sprayed. Love your site and your humorous replies.
Jay Rascoe
Houston, TX



Hi Jay,
We really appreciate your photos of a female Dobsonfly since we just commented that we haven’t received many reports of Dobsonflies this year. We have also heard that the females release a noxious odor from another contributor.

Letter 34 – Female Dobsonfly

 


Hi,
I live in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and have only seen this bug once on our farm but have always wondered what it was. It was about 5 inches long. Thanks!
Loren Dearborn



If you think she was big, wait until you see a male Dobsonfly.

Letter 35 – Female Dobsonfly: First of the year

 

Caddisfly or Stonefly?
Hi Bugman,
I am a huge fan of bugs, and fully recognize their place in the world. My brothers were visiting family in Nova Scotia, Canada, and this bug attached itself to my brothers shoe. After searching around your page for a while I came up with two possibilities for identification, Caddisfly or Stonefly…..can you confirm if I’m right or not? Thanks so much!
Marissa
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada



Hi Marissa,
This is a female Dobsonfly, and our first submission of the year. Dobsonflies appear in May and June, though sightings do continue into the summer.

Letter 36 – Female Dobsonfly

 

fishfly?
Dear Bugman,
I found this sizeable insect last April while on vacation in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. I was searching female dobsonfly sites, but the wing veination wasn’t quite right. Then I came to your site, and it seems to more closely resemble fishflies. Your thoughts? Thank you.
Dave Spier



Hi Dave,
Dobsonflies and Fishflies are both in the Family Corydalidae. Fishflies have antennae with soft comblike projections on one side. Dobsonflies do not. We believe this to be a female Dobsonfly.

Letter 37 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Please help us identify
Attached are three pictures of an insect me and a buddy saw while on a mountain biking trip in Northeast Georgia (Helen). We have no clue and have never seen something like this before. Can you please help us identify. Very much appreciate.
Jonathan McLandrich



Hi Jonathan,
This is a female Dobsonfly. The larvae are prized bait for fishermen and are called Hellgramites. The adults are short lived and do not feed. We get most of our identification requests from May through July, so your specimen is either very early or very late.


Thank you. The pictures are from late July so it fits within your given time frame. Thanks again.
Jonathan McLandrich

Letter 38 – Female Dobsonfly

 

winged insect with huge mandibles Sat, May 23, 2009 at 6:40 AM My husband and son caught this last night, and we can’t seem to figure out what it is. It looks kind of scary! They caught it in a butterfly net and the thing chewed through the netting while we were searching for a container. It is about 2.5 – 3 inches in length, it has see through wings, and is primarily gray and brown. Like mentioned earlier it has huge mandibles. Looking closely, it almost looks as if it actually has 2 sets. A very large set for grabbing and another smaller set inside those for chewing (??) Its head is kind of flat with its eyes on the sides. Thanks for your help!! Mom26superguys Central Texas
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Mom26superguys, Your intimidating insect is a female Dobsonfly.  The male Dobsonfly has much more impressive mandibles, but it is the female whose mouth can bite and chew.  The trophy jaws of the male Dobsonfly are used in the mating ritual.

Letter 39 – Female Dobsonfly

 

large insect w/ big chompers in central Texas Tue, May 26, 2009 at 10:01 PM Howdy. I live in Austin, TX, but my family has a weekend house near the west Texas town of Llano. We were there this past weekend and found this big guy on the screen door to the kitchen. These photos don’t give a sense of scale, but the thing was about 3 1/2 inches from the tip of the jaws to the end of the wings. I couldn’t tell whether it had one set of wings or two. We didn’t bother the bug, and it didn’t bother us, but its big jaws looked respectable. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks. Randall Llano county, west Texas
Dobsonfly
Dobsonfly
Hello Randall, This is a female Dobsonfly.  Just yesterday we posted a photo of a Hellgrammite, the larva of a Dobsonfly.  The male Dobsonfly has even more impressive mandibles, but it is the female that is capable of delivering a painful nip.  Though the bite of a female Dobsonfly can pinch, she is basically harmless.

Letter 40 – Female Dobsonfly

 

what is this thing?
July 11, 2009
I’ve seen a few of these the past few nights, only at night. The ones I’ve seen are near a light source, and rather inactive. Two sets of wings, a soft abdomen, 6 legs, 2 antennae, and claw like pinchers at it’s mouth. this one is about 2.5″ long and a wingspan of 3.5″. I have never seen anything close to this before.
 Ryan
West suburbs of Chicago

Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly

Hi Ryan,
This is a female Dobsonfly, a common insect throughout the eastern U.S.  We also just posted a photo of a male Dobsonfly from Ecuador.  You should compare the modest mandibles on your female to the impressive set on the male of the species, though we suspect the Ecuadorean individual is of a different species.

Letter 41 – Female Dobsonfly: Dead from unknown causes

 

Dobsonfly in my garage? July 20, 2009 I found this 3″ insect in the middle of my garage floor one evening, in a heavily wooded area of southeastern Pennsylvania, near a pond/creek. How it got there will remain a mystery, however I believe someone here can at least clear up the identity of the deceased, may it R.I.P. From perusing your great site, I decided it most looks like a female dobsonfly, however I would like confirmation on that. It has been “bugging” me not to know for sure. So that I don’t get nominated for a nasty reader award, I will say that I found it in this exact condition; dead, with missing body parts. 😉 Many thanks from Barto, PA Heavily wooded area of Southeastern PA, near a creek
Dobsonfly:  Dead from unknown causes
Dobsonfly: Dead from unknown causes
Dear Barto, You are correct.  This is a female Dobsonfly.  For the record, people who kill insects out of fear or ignorance do not become Nasty Readers, though they will wind up on the Unnecessary Carnage page in our attempt to educate the public as to what need not be killed.  Only when readers “attack” us in words and insult us do they become nasty readers.  Your photo will simply go in the Dobsonfly archives since you had nothing to do with her death.

Letter 42 – Female Dobsonfly from Mexico

 

Bug from my metropolitan house in Monterrey, Mexico May 14, 2010 I have been living in the Monterrey, Mexico area my whole life (36 yr). I´ve seen wear bugs in the country side, but yesterday I found this bug in the garage of my urban house. Would love if somebody help me with the name (don´t know much about bugs, it might be a common insect…) Thanks in advance Alex Monterrey, México (urban area)
Female Dobsonfly
Hola Alex, This is a female Dobsonfly, and she can deliver a somewhat painful, though not dangerous or life threatening bite if provoked.  The male, who has much more developed mandibles, in nearly incapable of biting.
Female Dobsonfly

Letter 43 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Female Dobsonfly? June 9, 2010 Found this guy on my doorstep this morning. He is about 2 1/2 inches long. Pretty sure it was a male dobsonfly but after looking at your website was wondering if maybe it is not a female….would love to know. Thanks Melody Fundyk Mountain Home, Arkansas
Female Dobsonfly
Hi Melody, You are absolutely correct.  You may compare your photo to that of a recently posted male Dobsonfly to see how the mandibles differ between the sexes.

Letter 44 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Huge Moth? June 25, 2010 I found this large moth-like insect while fishing and have never seen anything like it before. I have no clue what it is… but it was found late June close to Ottawa, Ontario. Tyler Pakenham, Ontario, Canada
Dobsonfly
Hi Tyler, We have gotten numerous images of Dobsonflies this year, and many have been of the males which have long saber shaped mandibles.  The males are incapable of biting, but females like your specimen, can bite and might even draw blood.  Fishermen prize Dobsonfly larvae, known as Hellgrammites, as one of the best live baits.
Dobsonfly

Letter 45 – Newly Metamorphosed Female Dobsonfly

 

Dearest Bugman Location:  Delaware Water Gap, PA (Along the riverside) July 18, 2010 5:45 pm I saw this along the delaware river about a month ago. Ive been showing everyone the photograph i sent you and no one can figure out even what type of bug it is! (If you can see in the photo it was also mating at the same time, female belly up it looked like) so its not alone and must be full grown. I truly hope you can clear this up, if not, im convinced it is an alien. Your Friend, Christoph
Newly metamorphosed female Dobsonfly
Hi Christoph, This is a newly metamorphosed female Dobsonfly, and she is still grasping on to her pupal exuvia, the sloughed off skin that is left behind after metamorphosis.  This is a wonderful documentation for our website.  You should check out some of the numerous images we have posted over the years of Dobsonflies.  Males with their disproportionately large mandibles are truly frightening looking, but perfectly harmless creatures.

Letter 46 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Giant Winged Thingy! Location:  High Falls, New York July 20, 2010 7:24 pm Hello Bugman! Just got back from a Mid-July trip to Upper State New York. This really large winged insect slept on the outside of my hotel window screen all day. I am speculating that it is a giant winged termite, but none of my searches, thus far show one like this. Any ideas? Freya
Dobsonfly
Hi Freya, This is actually a female Dobsonfly, and though we never thought of it before, they do rather resemble giant winged termites. Thanks! My husband was saying it was a Fishfly, but the antennae and mouthparts in the picture he showed me looked different. Maybe they are related? Thanks again. It was cool. Your husband is not really too far off.  Dobsonflies and Fishflies are closely related since they are in the same family Corydalidae (see BugGuide).  You are quite observant since one of the differentiating characteristics is the antennae.

Letter 47 – Female Dobsonfly

 

What is this bug Location:  Harrisburg, PA August 20, 2010 9:17 pm Your help in identifying this bug is appreciated. AP
Female Dobsonfly
Hi AP, This is a female Dobsonfly.  The males and females can be easily distinguished from one another by the shape of the mandibles.  The species exhibits sexual dimorphism and the mandibles of the male are greatly developed and look like a pair of calipers.  Though they are greatly exaggerated in size, the mandibles of the male are incapable of inflicting a bite, though it is believed they are used in either courtship or mating.  We are still waiting for a photo that documents that statement though we cannot even remember where we first read it.  Though the female’s mandibles are smaller, they are more functional, and she is capable of delivering a painful bite that might even draw blood, though generally the bite would just produce a pinching sensation.  She has no venom.  Your photo captures her in a defensive posture.  Neither the male nor the female Dobsonfly feeds as an adult.

Letter 48 – Female Dobsonfly in threatening posture

 

Bug ID please Location: Arrowhead Lake, Pocono Lake, Pennsylvania January 3, 2011 11:55 pm Hello! this is the scariest looking bug I’ve ever seen. I saw him on the siding of a building in the woods in Pennsylvania, in the Pocono mountains. i would appreciate it if you could help in identifying him. Thank you very much, Wendy Signature: Wendy
Female Dobsonfly
Hi Wendy, We often write that Dobsonflies are harmless, but it is possible that a female might deliver a painful bite that may even draw blood.  This female is in an effective threat position and we would have to agree with you that she is quite frightening.  The male Dobsonfly with his saber-like mandibles is even more frightening, but whereas the female actually has mandibles capable of biting, the mandibles of the male are perfectly harmless to humans. Wow! Thank you so very much! So exciting to get a response/id from you and so quickly too! Appreciate it very much, Wendy

Letter 49 – Female Dobsonfly: America's New Top Model

 

Female Dobson Fly Photoshoot!
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobson Fly Photoshoot! Location: Dallas, TX May 18, 2011 2:27 pm Thanks to WTB for helping me identify this strange bug. I took her home and placed her on some clear plexiglass for a late night photoshoot with my Nikon DSLR. She was a great model! I hope these photographs help people appreciate the beauty of these really scary looking bugs! Signature: Jasrun
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Jasrun, We hope Tyra and company don’t come at us for copyright infringement if we declare your comely female Dobsonfly as America’s New Top Model.  She looks great from all angles and she really knows how to work a camera.  Additionally, we just posted an image of a Hellgrammite, the larval form of the Dobsonfly.  As a postscript, etymologically, Dobsonfly is a compound word.
Female Dobsonfly
Challenge to our Readership:  Take a staged insect photograph … or not. Get a photo of a couple of Dobsonflies, male and female together.  If he is grasping her with those saber-like mandibles, it might be proof that the male needs those mandibles for mating purposes, because they sure can’t be used for eating.

Letter 50 – Female Western Dobsonfly

 

Dobson fly? Location: Rio Rancho, New Mexico July 9, 2011 3:16 am I noticed this bug hanging on the curtains on my back porch about 7pm July 5th. I saw photos of dobson flies on your site and am wondering if this is one. It’s the 1st insect like it I’ve ever seen here in New Mexico, or anywhere else! Signature: Ember
Western Dobsonfly
Hi Ember, You are correct.  This is a female Dobsonfly, but we don’t believe it is the most commonly reported species, Corydalus cornutus, the Eastern Dobsonfly, which BugGuide only reports as far west as Texas despite the hundreds of submissions they have received.  We researched your city, Rio Rancho, and we learned it is in northwest New Mexico, far from Texas.  The genus page on BugGuide has this information regarding the range of Dobsonflies:  “The only eastern species is Eastern Dobsonfly, Corydalus cornutus. Three other species apparently have very limited distribution in North America:  Corydalus luteus – South Texas, Corydalus texanus – SW US west of the Rocky Mountains, Corydalus bidenticulatus – Arizona.  Genus is restricted to the New World–other species in Central and South America (Contreras-Ramos, 1997).”  We will go out on a limb and identify this as one of the western species, however, we don’t have a conclusive species identification.

Letter 51 – Female Dobsonfly

 

looks like a Hollywood creation… Location: Maryland July 10, 2011 8:37 pm Found July 10th in Maryland, USA. Signature: BK
Female Dobsonfly
Hi BK, Hollywood frequently turns to nature for inspiration, and we have no doubts that characteristics of this female Dobsonfly, and those of her sexually dimorphic mate, have inspired some science fiction creation.

Letter 52 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Flying teeth Location: North East, Maryland July 22, 2011 11:45 am Summer time, about 95 degrees out on a clear day and this beast was waiting for me outside my door in the morning. It’s nearly 3” long from teeth to end of wings and it looked to have 6 legs. Unknown what under the wings looks like. With a jaw like that I didn’t bother to press my luck! Signature: plez
Female Dobsonfly
Dear plez, This is a female Dobsonfly, and while she has no venom or poison, you are probably correct that a bite might hurt and possibly even draw blood.  The male of the species has even more impressive mandibles, however, they are not designed for biting as those of the female are designed.

Letter 53 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Dobsonfly? Location: Nettleton, Mississippi June 5, 2012 8:26 am I think I’ve identified this bug myself and a female Dobsonfly (thanks to your wonderful site), but this was such a good picture that my husband took on the loading dock at his work last week, thought I’d share. Signature: Jill
Female Dobsonfly
Hi Jill, This really is a fabulous photo of a female Dobsonfly in a threat posture.  Though she looks fierce, she is quite harmless since she lacks venom, though she may give a nip if she is carelessly handled.  We are honored to post your photo, however, we are postdating your submission so that our site will get daily refreshed during our brief holiday away from the office for the coming week. 

Letter 54 – Female Dobsonfly called Luciferfly in Oklahoma

 

Subject: Lucifer fly? Location: NE Oklahoma June 23, 2012 6:06 pm We found this fly in Northeast Oklahoma this week (6/2012). It is about 3 inches long. We were told it was a Lucifer fly. Is that correct? Thanks! Signature: Lindy
Female Dobsonfly, AKA Luciferfly
Hi Lindy, We have never heard the term Luciferfly, but some common insect names are very local in their usage.  This may be a name for the Dobsonfly, the insect photo that you submitted, that is limited to your location in Oklahoma.  We do think it is a fitting name for an insect whose larva is known as a Hellgrammite, a name we have never had much luck with determining the origin.  Your female Dobsonfly doesn’t have anywhere near the impressive mandibles of the male Dobsonfly.

Letter 55 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Kind of terrifying Location: Central Minnesota July 13, 2012 12:28 pm This insect was saved from a spider’s web outside a home in central Minnesota and lived to tell the tale. July 2012 Signature: Susan
Female Dobsonfly
Hi Susan, Though we don’t often like to interfere with food chain dramas, we are nonetheless awarding you with a Bug Humanitarian Award Tag for your rescue of this female Dobsonfly from a Spider’s Web, though that deprived a spider of a substantial meal.  The female Dobsonfly might try to bite if she is carelessly handled, but since she has no venom, she is perfectly harmless.  Male Dobsonflies have much more impressive, but not terribly utilitarian mandibles.  Neither male nor female Dobsonflies feed as adults.  They live to mate.  We suspect the mandibles of the male are used somehow for mating purposes, and we would love a photograph that documents that.  The female can use her mandibles to defend herself which is important since she needs to be able to live long enough to lay eggs after mating.

Letter 56 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: What is this!? Location: Western Wisconsin July 15, 2012 11:52 pm Dear bugman, My boyfriend and I encountered this strange creature while walking around downtown at night. It was lingering on a lit sign outside of one of the local shops. It was nearly as big as my hand. I’ve never seen anything like it before. Help? Signature: Mishi
Female Dobsonfly
Hi Mishi, This is a female Dobsonfly and you can see the posting we just made of a male Dobsonfly.  They are easily distinguished from one another by the size and shape of the mandibles.  Dobsonflies comprise one of our top 10 insect identification requests because of their large size and unusual appearance.  Dobsonflies are harmless, though a female might nip if she is carelessly handled.

Letter 57 – Female Dobsonfly from Brazil

 

Subject: Giant flying ant insect Location: Brazil, Estate of Minas Gerais, Betim city December 21, 2012 5:36 pm Hi WTB, this is my first post in this website, I really enjoy seeing and reading it. Could you help me out with this insect? I believe it belongs to the Neuroptera order. Thanks! Signature: Ítalo Alves – Byologist – Pontifícia Universidade Católica – PUC
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Ítalo, This is a female Dobsonfly, and though we don’t know what species you have in Brazil, it looks very similar to the Eastern Dobsonfly, Corydalus cornutus, found in North America.  Interestingly, we just posted a photo of a male Dobsonfly from Panama.  Males have much more exaggerated mandibles, and this sexual dimorphism is extremely pronounced.  Dobsonflies are classified in the insect order Megaloptera, but we believe prior to taxonomic changes, they were classified as Neuropterans.

Letter 58 – Lizard with Wings is Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Lizard With Wings? Location: Chesapeake, VA May 16, 2013 1:27 pm I found this bug in a rain puddle after a storm in Chesapeake, VA on April 28, 2012. It was mostly lifeless. It clung weakly to the stick I used to pick it up and set it on a pipe out of the puddle. It’s head and neck seemed more like a gecko or lizard than a bug. It had long straight antennae, multiple stick legs, and two sets of wings – one set was lace-like and one was thin with veins. I’ve been wondering what it was for over a year…finally got around to posting to your site. I know the pics aren’t that great, but I’m hoping they’re good enough for an identification. Thanks for all you do. Hope you find the little guy as interesting as I did. Signature: Bonner C
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Bonner, Your subject line really caught our attention.  We couldn’t imagine which insect would look like a “lizard with wings” but after seeing your photograph, we fully understand why you might make that comparison to this female Dobsonfly.  We wonder what you would think of the sexually dimorphic male Dobsonfly or the larval form which is called a Hellgrammite. Daniel, Thanks so much for the identification. I would have never thought to look in that section for my bug. Bonner C

Letter 59 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Female Dobsonfly (2 pictures) Location: Concord, Virginia June 19, 2013 5:35 pm Hi Bug Team, Just wanted to share these photos of a lovely Dobsonfly that I found at the barn in Concord, VA, today. She was very obliging in posing for me, and the pictures came out pretty well! Signature: Sarah
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Hi Sarah, We frequently warn our readers that though they are not dangerous, a female Dobsonfly might nip a finger to defend herself.  You photo is a nice closeup of the mandibles of a female Dobsonfly.

Letter 60 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: whats the bug Location: northeast Pennsylvania July 6, 2013 8:20 am Hello, we were fishing last night in northeastern pa. We saw several of these bugs about 2 1/2 inches long. Almost a teal color. Never saw one like this before. What are they. Signature: mantis
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Hi mantis, This is a female Dobsonfly, and as a fisherman, you might be interested to know that the larvae of Dobsonflies, known as Hellgrammites, are a prized bait for freshwater anglers which you can verify on Trout Nut.

Letter 61 – Female Dobsonfly, and possible promise of long awaited mating images

 

Subject: Beetle Dragonfly? Location: Cleveland, GA July 8, 2013 8:24 am I’m really not sure on this one, but he’s about 4-5 inches long. It’s been sitting on my kitchen window since yesterday near porch light. It does not seem to be happy so I am not messing with him, and keeps turning those snippers towards me when I get close. I usually move insects away from the house in a cup rather than killing them, but may just let this one fly away on his own when ready. Your insight is much appreciated. Our Automated Response Thank you for submitting your identification request. Please understand that we have a very small staff that does this as a labor of love. We cannot answer all submissions (not by a long shot). But we’ll do the best we can! Signature: Frog 8:48 AM (9 hours ago) Hey Bugman, I read up a bit more after I send message to you and found more info on the Dobson Fly. They only live 7 days as adults? Well I have 4 females outside now, including the one I sent pics of, sittng near my porch light. Saw your other posts about it, and will be looking for male(s) to hopefully come in tonight. Will try to pics and send them as well, if I can catch them in the act.  🙂 Frog
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Frog, We have posted your photo of a female Dobsonfly and we eagerly await the possibility of the long awaited mating photos of these magnificent creatures. Awesome.  I’m going to stay up a bit tonight to watch these ladies. Another one just flew up. Seems like one has laid eggs near the light last night, and then dropped down. I helped her back up on the wall, but now has now disappeared. (there are a few frogs on the porch as well). Will send pics of the laying of eggs if all i can get. More soon. You guys are great.  🙂 Thanks, Frog

Letter 62 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Spawn of Satan Location: Latrobe, PA July 15, 2013 9:19 pm This dude was found in Latrobe, PA. I was born and raised there and have never seen anything like it. Hope you can help Signature: Dave
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Dave, We believe “Spawn of Satan” is an awfully harsh name for this female DobsonflyMale Dobsonflies are even more frightening looking, and both are perfectly harmless, though a female might give a pinch if carelessly handled.  Dobsonflies are not uncommon in your area.  Lay off the Rolling Rock and try to familiarize yourself with more of the natural world around you. Lol love the rolling rock reference.  Thanks guys. I’ve been living in vegas for the past 8 years and have been seeing “camel spiders” lately. Heard a rumor that they are native to the middle east and were  brought here by G.I.’s. Can you shed any light on this? Yes we can.  There are large Camel Spiders in the Middle East, and there was some internet hysteria caused by a hoax inspired by a wide angle photograph that distorted the perspective and scale of two Camel Spiders held by a wrench that made the viral internet rounds many years ago.  North American species are considerably smaller, and by chance we profiled the Sun Spider of North America as our Bug of the Month last month.  Sun Spiders or Wind Scorpions as the North American Solifugids are commonly called are often victims of Unnecessary Carnage.

Letter 63 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: what is this?? Location: Burlington NC May 7, 2014 2:41 pm I have never seen this bug before. Any ideas? It’s spring time here, and it reminds me of a roach! They are congregating around our back door. Signature: Carissa
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Hi Carissa, This is a female Dobsonfly, and they generally attract attention because of their large size.  Though she may nip at you with her mandibles if she feels threatened, she is harmless.  We are intrigued that you indicate that “they are congregating around” which indicates they are possibly numerous, yet you did not submit an image of a much more impressive looking male Dobsonfly.  Dobsonflies are sexually dimorphic, meaning the sexes have obvious visual differences, and males have much more developed mandibles.  Despite his fierce appearance, a male Dobsonfly is also perfectly harmless, and while a female can deliver a pinch, there is no such worry with the male.

Letter 64 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Long flying critter Location: Columbus Ohio May 29, 2014 7:35 pm We keep finding this guy on our screen in the morning, near our outdoor light that burns all night. At some point in the day, it flies away. The underside just looks like a caterpillar with wings. This is Ohio, and it is late May. The wings are not quite clear, but fairly translucent as you can see in the picture. He’s not bothering us, but I don’t want to harbor a critter that may be eating my plants when I’m not looking! Signature: Robin
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Robin, While this female Dobsonfly is an impressive creature, the male Dobsonfly, with his scimitar shaped mandibles is even more memorable.  Dobsonflies do not feed as adults, and the semiaquatic larvae, known as Hellgrammites, are often found near bodies of water.  Dobsonflies will not harm your plants.

Letter 65 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: curious to find out what this is Location: Western Virginia, Shenandoah National Park July 19, 2014 6:28 am Good morning Bugman. My son and I were staying at a hotel in Virginia (just outside of Shenandoah National Park), in mid-July. He saw this creature on the wall, and this is one we’ve never seen before. It didn’t move, even after the flash from the camera. Thank goodness, because those mandibles look ferocious. Signature: Bob M.
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Bob M., This is a female Dobsonfly, and your timing is perfect as we just posted an image of a sexually dimorphic male Dobsonfly.  Though his mandibles are much more impressive looking, they are unable to bite human skin, but the smaller and more utilitarian mandibles of the female are capable of delivering a painful bite that might even draw blood, so you should handle her with caution.  You can compare this image of a male and female Dobsonfly side by side and also view the courtship process.

Letter 66 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Female Dobsonfly? Location: Somerset County, NJ July 25, 2014 7:14 pm Found this insect (already dead) on my parents’ front porch in central NJ on 7/14/14. After some research I’m thinking it’s a female dobsonfly, but not sure. Wondering what could have killed it and left it intact, and if there might be a nest nearby (shudder). Thanks! Signature: Megan in NJ
Dobsonfly
Dobsonfly
Dear Megan, You are correct that this is a female Dobsonfly.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults likely do not feed” which means they are not very long lived.  This Dobsonfly may have died of old age/natural causes.  Dobsonflies are not social insects that produce a nest, but if you have habitat, including a nearby stream, there may be a significant population in your vicinity.

Letter 67 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: werid bug Location: sc June 26, 2015 11:58 pm came home at night, and the end of june. the bug was sitting off away from the light, almost in the shadows, has 4 wings, eyes on the side of the head, almost ant like pinchers, to very long feelers coming off the top above and towards the front of head. I do have a couple of more pics if need be Signature: doesn’t matter
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Though she is basically harmless, you might want to stay clear of the mandibles on this female Dobsonfly as she might deliver a painful pinch.

Letter 68 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Bug Location: Dayton ohio August 6, 2015 9:40 pm My cousin found this bug on her wall it looks really big Signature: Johnna shearer
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Johnna, This is a female Dobsonfly, and you are correct that they are quite large as North American insects go.  Though Dobsonflies are not aggressive, the female has powerful mandibles and she might deliver a painful pinch, possibly even drawing blood, if she is carelessly handled, but the bite is not venomous and it will produce nothing more than a surface wound.  Male Dobsonflies have much more impressive looking mandibles, but they are not adapted to biting and they are no threat at all to humans.

Letter 69 – Female Spring Fishfly NOT Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Large slender bug with wings Location: Lake Jackson Texas March 23, 2016 12:24 pm Hello from the Lone Star state!stepped outside this morning & seen this bug on the wall, about 1 3/4″ long & about 1/4″ wide, have never seen one like this before , so just curious… What is this strange looking bug? Thanks in advance! Signature: Curious Rae
Female Dobsonfly
Female Spring Fishfly
Dear Curious Rae, This is a female Dobsonfly, and though she is considered harmless, she does have strong mandibles and carelessly handling her might result in a painful bite.  Male Dobsonflies have much more formidable looking mandibles, but they are incapable of biting.  The identification of Dobsonflies is one of our most common requests, and your submission is our first North American Dobsonfly submission this year.  Most sightings occur in late spring and early summer. Correction:  Fishfly, NOT Dobsonfly Thanks to a comment from Curious Girl, we realized we were too hasty in our identification.  This is in fact a female Spring Fishfly, not a female Dobsonfly.  Dobsonflies have more developed mandibles.  According to BugGuide, the female Spring Fishfly has serrate antennae while the male has pectinate or feathery antennae.

Letter 70 – Female Dobsonfly from Colombia

 

Subject: Awsome find ? Or not? Location: Carmen de viboral, Colombia April 5, 2016 6:09 pm Bugman help !! What is this beautiful creatures name. Been in Medellin Colombia for 14 years and never saw one. My farm is where I found it . About 8500 ft above sea level. Thanks bugman!! Signature: Anyhow
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
These are wonderful images of a female Dobsonfly.  Male Dobsonflies have much more impressive mandibles.
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly

Letter 71 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: What is this bug? Location: A river in Indiana June 23, 2016 5:04 am My aunt saw this bug this morning up at her river home here in northern Indiana. Signature: Jessica
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Jessica, This is a female Dobsonfly and we would caution you and your aunt to stay clear of her mandibles.  Adult Dobsonflies do not eat, but the mandibles of the female are used to defend herself from predators, and she may deliver a painful nip if carelessly handled.  There is nothing to fear from the nip, as the Dobsonfly has neither venom nor poison.  The male Dobsonfly has much more spectacular mandibles, but they are not capable of inflicting a bite on a human.

Letter 72 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Outside in Vermont Location: Vermont July 1, 2016 11:47 am This was at a friends house- No idea what it is Signature: ET
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear ET, This is a female Dobsonfly, a common summer sighting in Eastern North America.

Letter 73 – Female Dobsonfly from New Mexico

 

Subject: What is this bug? Location: Northern New Mexico July 5, 2016 10:41 pm Bug found in northern New Mexico. Signature: William
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear William, This is a female Dobsonfly, a common summer sighting in eastern North America.  Though BugGuide does not report any sightings from New Mexico, sightings from nearby Texas are quite common.

Letter 74 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: What is this monster Location: South Carolina November 16, 2016 9:40 pm I found this bug hanging around above my garage door and have no idea what it is. Signature: Adam S
Female Dobsonfly
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Adam, This is a female Dobsonfly, and this is very late in the year for a sighting.

Letter 75 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Fascinating large insect Location: Warwick, NY USA June 27, 2017 5:52 pm I’ve been trying to ID this insect since I first saw it 3 years ago. I see them from time to time in my backyard (usually near pool). I live in Warwick, NY. It’s a very unusual bug, very similar to both wasp and stonefly. It’s large, about 3 cm in length and to my surprise has huge wings which are not visible when folded. It’s head looks scary with large mandibles and very short antennae. Today I found a dead one in my garage with it’s wings fully spread. Everyone who I showed it to, had instant panic like reaction 🙂 I’m hoping you can help me to ID this insect. Signature: Len
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Len, This is a female Dobsonfly, and though they are not aggressive towards humans, they can defend themselves with those powerful mandibles.  Interestingly, male Dobsonflies have incredibly developed mandibles, but they are incapable of biting with them. Fascinating! Thank you so much! Yes I can see now it’s a dobsonfly, no doubt. Looks like most of those that I observed were nymphs. Short antennas, no visible wings (like in pictures), but then one of them completely surprised me when it just took off and flew 🙂 Len.

Letter 76 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Large winged bug with pinchers Location: Torrington, CT July 9, 2017 1:05 pm Hi Bugman, We saw this bug crawling around on a rooftop bar last night. It apparently had been hanging around on the umbrellas and plants. Any idea what it is? It looks prehistoric. Very cool. Signature: Amanda C
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Amanda, The mandibles on this female Dobsonfly are indeed quite impressive, and she defends herself quite well with them if she feels threatened.  The male Dobsonfly, on the other hand, has impressively large mandibles that are not really functional.  He uses them to battle other males and to impress female Dobsonflies during mating.

Letter 77 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Flying insect I can’t identify Location: Western North Carolina July 12, 2017 6:37 am Can you tell me what this is? Signature: Toya
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Toya, The Dobsonfly is one of our most common summer identification requests.  Your individual is a female.

Letter 78 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Houston Bug Location: North Houston, TX July 30, 2017 3:50 pm This 2″ bug is hanging out next to our mosquito zapper. Don’t know if he’s a beneficial bug or not? What is it? Signature: Mechaniken
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Mechaniken, This is a female Dobsonfly, and it will not harm you or your home.

Letter 79 – Female Dobsonfly from Colombia

 

Subject:  Walking through memory lane Geographic location of the bug:  Colombia, South America. Date: 11/19/2017 Time: 06:22 PM EDT Hey! So I was just erasing some pictures on my phone and I came across this giant flying scary bug I once encountered and took a picture of. Maybe a Corydalinae? However, I just can’t seem to get the species right. It was like 3 inches long, as far as I remember. Could you give me a hand? How you want your letter signed:  So close yet so far, Daniel.
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Daniel, This is a female Dobsonfly and you are correct that she is in the subfamily Corydalinae.

Letter 80 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  2″ bug on screen Geographic location of the bug:  Waleska Ga. Date: 06/09/2018 Time: 09:27 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  He’s about 2″ long, looks like bark on a tree. How you want your letter signed:  Cyndi
Female Dobsonfly: Ventral view
Dear Cyndi, This is a female Dobsonfly.  Though considered harmless, she has powerful mandibles that should be avoided as she can deliver a painful bite.
Female Dobsonfly: Dorsal view

Letter 81 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Whats this bug?? Geographic location of the bug:  Virginia Date: 07/04/2018 Time: 08:35 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Woke up this morning to this bug glued to the side of the house How you want your letter signed:  Mr Ward
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Mr. Ward, This comely beauty is a female Dobsonfly.

Letter 82 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  What kind of bug is this? Geographic location of the bug:  Hoover, Alabama Your letter to the bugman:  I saw this bug on the side of our school building today. What is it? How you want your letter signed:  Lisa Dodson
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Lisa, This is a female Dobsonfly.  She has powerful mandibles and she will bite to defend herself.

Letter 83 – Female Dobsonfly from Costa Rica

 

Subject:  What’s this bug? Geographic location of the bug:  Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica Date: 05/09/2019 Time: 10:05 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Lived in Costa Rica for 7 years, never saw this bug before. It was attracted to the ceiling light, circled in several times, then landed on my iPad. How you want your letter signed:  Jungle Life
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Jungle Life, This is a female Dobsonfly.  Dobsonflies are considered harmless, though females have powerful mandibles, and they might nip if they feel the need to defend themselves.

Letter 84 – Female Dobsonfly or “This Thing Looks Like Flying Death”

 

Subject:  This Thing Looks Like Flying Death Geographic location of the bug:  Chapel Hill NC US Date: 06/07/2019 Time: 03:45 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Hi! I have lived here my whole life and have never seen anything like this. From a distance I thought it was a brown praying mantis or a huge leaf insect/moth, but it is not and I Am Scared. Thanks!! How you want your letter signed:  Liz C
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Liz, This is a female Dobsonfly, and though her mandibles might produce a painful pinch, she is harmless.  In the interest of your mental well-being and your ability to sleep peacefully at night, we believe you should be thankful you did not encounter a male Dobsonfly, though his mandibles are all for show.

Letter 85 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Moth? Geographic location of the bug:  North GA Date: 06/12/2019 Your letter to the bugman:  This bug was outside on our window screen. We can’t recall seeing one before, and we’ve been unable to identify. How you want your letter signed:  Bragg7
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Bragg7, Moths that feed as adults have a sucking proboscis for a mouth.  Your critter has impressive mandibles.  This is a female Dobsonfly, one of our most common identification requests during summer months.

Letter 86 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Dobson fly? Geographic location of the bug:  Piseco lake, NY. (Adirondacks) Date: 07/23/2019 Time: 08:03 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Hi! This interesting creature was like looking through a microscope, only… I wasn’t.  This is a standard sized brick it is sitting on. Seen mid July on a very rainy day. There were several on the wall of the building. My guess after a bit of research would be Dobson fly?  Thank you! How you want your letter signed:  Jamie
Female Dobsonfly
Hi Jamie, You are correct that this is a female Dobsonfly.  We posted numerous images yesterday of both Dobsonflies and related Fishflies, a clear indication the hottest days of summer have arrived.

Letter 87 – Female Dobsonfly from Arizona

 

Subject:  bug with armor plate shield and pincers Geographic location of the bug:  Sedona Arizona Date: 06/19/2020 Time: 03:16 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Spotted this bug on window trim behind a planter and thought it was a grasshopper, but at closer look saw this cool looking bug with what looks like an armor shield plate and silvery looking design across its head. Never seen anything like it. But what IS it? How you want your letter signed:  Lea
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Lea, This is a female Dobsonfly, and because of your location, we believe it is Corydalus texanus which is pictured on BugGuide. Thank you for your response. Yes that’s it. It’s been hanging out in th at same spot on the window trim outside my front door for about a week.Hasn’t moved. Maybe getting bugs when they come toward the night light. Humm. Don’t know what it’s eating but it’s hanging on. It’s a shaded spot even when the sun’s out and sometimes it/she turns her head when I check on her. Can’t figure out what she’s waiting for but must feel safe as the spot is behind a hanging planter away from predictors. So I guess I’ll name her Scooby Doo. We are pretty certain Dobsonflies do not feed as adults.  Perhaps she is conserving her energy until she mates.

Letter 88 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Long flying bug Geographic location of the bug:  SOutheastern PA Date: 07/11/2020 Time: 06:48 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  What’s this scary looking critter? Not a super good flyer. How you want your letter signed:  Jon Kern
Female Dobsonfly
Dear Jon, We love this unusual camera angle you used to depict this female Dobsonfly.  Dobsonflies are one of our most common summer identification requests.  Male Dobsonflies are even more impressive looking.

Letter 89 – Female Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  mud bug Geographic location of the bug:  texas hill country Date: 08/25/2021 Time: 01:55 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  an odd bug in the mud! probably about 3 inches long! it was very dark out, sorry the picture isn’t great. thank you for your help! How you want your letter signed:  curious, again
Female Dobsonfly
Dear curious, again, This is a female Dobsonfly.  She is not dangerous, but stay away from those mandibles.  She is prepared to defend herself and she may deliver a painful nip if you don’t handle with respect.  Thank you, Daniel! What a neat bug. I love her wings. J Sharing one more pic below. Thanks again and take care!

Letter 90 – Male Dobsonfly

 


We found this in Merrill, Wisconsin over the Fourth of July weekend. I had a man at a wilderness conservation place look at it and he couldn’t even point me to anything close to what exactly it is. Unique little guy. It was neat to watch his scary mouth open the closer you got to him. We kept him for a little bit but then sent back out into nature. No harm done.
Michele
Merrill Wisconsin



Hi Merrill,
Over the years, we have received countless images of Dobsonflies, and many were quite interesting, but we have never seen a crazier image of a male Dobsonfly than yours. This image is priceless.

Letter 91 – Bug of the Month: June 2006 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Dobson fly
Based on other photos on you site I believe this is a photo of a Dobson fly. Am I correct? This Insect was photographed near the Hiawasse river in Murphy NC.
Thanks.
Richard



Hi Richard,
Yes, this is a male Dobsonfly. Despite those formidible looking jaws, he is harmless. Now that summer is arriving, we expect to get many queries targeting the Dobsonfly. Fishermen use the equally fearsome appearing larvae, known as Hellgrammites, as bait. Your photo is marvelous, and we have decided to feature it near the top of our webpage for the entire month.

Letter 92 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Supai Canyon, AZ bug
Hi,
We came across a number of these bugs in Supai Canyon, Arizona. They came out every night at dusk, and would stay fluttering on the same tree branch (or hidden inside of our drying pants) all night, then fly away sometime in the morning. They were about five inches long, and among the most terrifying insects I’ve ever seen. We only saw them in a particular spot near the river. They’re similar to some of the antilions on your site, but I couldn’t find it specifically. Thought you might like the photos, anyway (got one in flight!)
Peter



Hi Peter,
Despite his frightening appearance, this male Dobsonfly is harmless.

Letter 93 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Bug Identification help
I was directed to your website from a friend. I was wondering if you could help identify the bug in the photo attached? We found it while hiking in Shades State Park in Southern Indiana last summer. Thank you!
Julie



Hi Julie,
We get most Dobsonfly queries during June and July and we try to keep a photo of one on our homepage all summer. This is a male, distinguishable because of the shape of his mandibles.

Letter 94 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Bug Encounter
Here’s one for you! Strange bug if you ask me. Close encounter of the 4" kind. This guy flew into me by accident while I was walking into th> door of my place of employment. This guy is 4 inches long with the front pinchers taking 1 inch alone! Talk about a large bug! Can you identify? I’m from Round Rock, Texas, but this guy ran into me in Austin, Texas, Southeast area to be exact. Thank you,
Mike



Hi Mike,
Because of their large size, prehistoric appearance, and large mandibles, we get numerous requests to identify Dobsonflies. Your specimen is a male, identified because of the shape of the pinchers.

Letter 95 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Can you identify this insect?
Hi bugman,
I’m trying to identify this very large bug that I spotted this morning. It is about 3 1/2" to 4" long and the picture was taking in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I lived in the area for over 50 years and don’t recall seeing anything like it before. I tried searching the web and came across your site and thought you might be able t help. When touched it reared its head up and opened what look like pincers but did not take flight. Regards,
Glenn



Hi Glenn,
This is a male Dobsonfly. It was our featured Bug of the Month for June because we get many more identification requests earlier in the summer.

Letter 96 – Male Dobsonfly

 

big bug
Hi I found this bug at work in Southern New Hampshire. Any idea what it is? It’s about 4 inches in length.
Jason French



Hi Jason,
Whenever we get a letter like yours in the summer, we take bets on it being a Dobsonfly. In your case, we were correct, a male Dobsonfly.

Letter 97 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Unknown critter
We recently found this attached to a wall outside our apt in Pennsylvania. It is appx 5 inches long, pinchers or what appear to be pinchers are about an inch long, Antenna are about 2 inches long and it has 6 legs. Could you possibly tell me what this bug is and where it is usually found?
Thank you
Mike



Hi Mike,
This is a male Dobsonfly. The Dobsonfly was featured at the top of our homepage as the Bug of the Month for June. Now readere will have to scroll down to find it. We always try to keep seasonal sitings posted on our homepage. More information and images can be found on our Dobsonfly page. Just click the link on the left column of the www.whatsthatbug.com homepage.

Letter 98 – Male Dobsonfly

 

really nice dodsonfly photo
Great page ! Here is a nice pic of a Dobsonfly I took in Cincinnati Ohio on 6/25/2006. He is missing a feeler. Pic is large but shows great detail.



Thanks for sending in your photo of a male Dobsonfly.

Letter 99 – Male Dobsonfly

 

What in the world is this thing??
My mom and I were camping in central Texas. The camp isn’t finished yet, so although they have a shower house, there isn’t a roof. The lights were on so of course there were a multitude of books. When I opened the door, I saw this BUG with the biggest pinchers I’ve ever seen. The bug itself has a three section body approx 3 inches long, lacey wings and pinchers approx an inch long. He took one look at me and raised his head and started clacking his pinchers together. I ran!! I did go back and turned off the lights, setting my lantern by the door away from the shower so all the bugs would go to the light. After showering, I opened the shower curtain and there he was waiting on me, raising his head and clacking his pinchers again. I’d like to know what I’m running from.
Thanks
Nora



Hi Nora,
That male Dobsonfly won’t hurt you. The females with much smaller mandibles can nip painfully. We should be getting many more Dobsonfly images in the coming months, but yours is on the advanced guard.

Letter 100 – Male Dobsonfly from Panama

 

I looked in the list. Still no clue. What’s this bug?
Hello,
My mother found this bug on her porch in Panama. We both are curious as to what kind of bug this is. It’s about 4 to 5 inches long according to her.
Regards,
Michael Steward
I think I found it after all. Is this a Dobson Fly?



Hi Michael,
Your are exactly correct. This is a male Dobsonfly.

Letter 101 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Interesting Bug
I’m assuming this is the male, given the extra ornateness; I got a picture of the presumed female, but unfortunately it’s very poor quality and she’s barely visible. I saw this fellow in a park nearby. He was crawling around, and headed toward me; I moved several times and he tracked me each time. I think he was just looking for something climb on – the female showed up a few minutes later, and he climbed up on the post that he’s next to in this picture, and arched his back and spread his wings, just holding the pose. He’s pretty good size – I’d say 5-6 inches, stem to stern. He had a couple of pincer-like appendages on his tail, of a fleshy material, similar to what’s on his head, but shorter. Unfortunately they’re folded under him in this picture. I have never seen anything like this. Any idea what it is?
Alan Little



Hi Alan,
Nice photo of a Male Dobsonfly. We were getting several letters a day in May and June and not so many in July regarding this fascinating insect.

Letter 102 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Big Pennsylvania Bug
Hi Bug Guy,
This interesting looking guy welcomed me home tonight. It was just sitting on the front door and appeared pretty docile, not minding the flash of my camera or the tape measure. The pictures aren’t too good but I just couldn’t bring myself to get any closer to it. I just moved to Eastern Pennsylvania from New Jersey and had never seen anything like it. Thanks to your fantastic site, I learned that it was a male dobson fly, right? Also, thanks to your site, I no longer feel the need to pack up and move back to Jersey! Great site! I suspect I’ll be checking back here often!
Thanks!
Corinne



Hi Corinne,
We are so happy the site was helpful and want to thank you for actually doing the research on it. Your photo is pretty great.

Letter 103 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Dobsonflie Closeup
Now that I know what it is here are a couple dobsonfly closeups.



Thanks David,
And they are great close-ups of a Male Dobsonfly.

Letter 104 – Male Dobsonfly

 

dobson fly
Hi,
We just found your site and found out that what we have is one of these amazing bugs! We let it go, but here is a photo from one that we saw down in northern N.J. last summer! We had no idea what it was until a friend recognized it as a Dobson fly! I had never seen one before in my 46 years! Great website!
Buggy in VT!



Thanks for the photo Buggy.

Letter 105 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Dobsonfly
Hello,
What a great site !!! I had to go downstairs to take a couple of pictures of this little monster that more or less presented itself to me after I dropped a tree with a chainsaw and was walking up the tree removing the branches afterward. This little monster just about wanted to kick my butt for crashing his world and came at me with tusks drawn! – LOL So here are a few shots to do what you’d like with 🙂 Keep up the great site too !!
Eric



Thanks for the photo Eric. We are happy you both survived your encounter.

Letter 106 – Male Canadian Dobsonfly

 

Dobson Fly?
Hi,
We saw this "bug" in Southern Ontario today. It was roughly 4" long. From searching the internet, we think it’s a Dobson Fly male?



Absolutely correct.

Letter 107 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Strangest bug I have ever seen
I really enjoy your website and discovering what others have discovered until I found my own unique insect. I have no clue as to what this may be. I have researched through many sites and have not found an exact match. Can you help??
Thanks
Rich – Maryland



Hi Rich,
Just this morning we removed a photo of a male Dobsonfly from our homepage since we got a female. They exhibit sexual dimorphism which manifests itself in the jaw structure. The males have pincers like your example, and females have smaller but more robust mandibles. We have an entire Dobsonfly page with many photos.

Letter 108 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Alien Bug!!
I found this bug this morning, on the floor at the injection mold facility where I work, near Charlotte, North Carolina. I’d love to know what it is.
Amy Layton



Hi Amy,
This is our first Dobsonfly photo of the year. People are always amazed seeing them for the first time. Your specimen is a male because of the very large mandibles. Females, though they have smaller mouthparts, are better capable of biting, but both are harmless. We have an entire Dobsonfly page as well as a Hellgrammite page (larval form). Click those links in the alphabatized list on the left of the www.whatsthatbug.com homepage for more photos and information.

Letter 109 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Photo for your site
Here’s a photo of a Dobson Fly that was taken at one of the NYS Thruway
Maintenance Facilities. Hope you enjoy it!
Dave B.



Thanks so much Dave. We are posting it post haste.

Letter 110 – photo of male dobsonfly

 

The kids were on a playground and found this monster. After some work this morning, was able to identify it; thought you might like a photo. This guy was about 6" long. I have a photo taken from another angle where you can see that he is clearly longer than the 2×4 on which he was resting. Love your web site–just found it today–will surely visit again.



Thanks for your photo Deb.

Letter 111 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Male Dobsonfly Photo
After reviewing your site, I quickly descovered that this is a male Dobsonfly. I was surprised to find it on next to my front door this morning. I live in Robertsville, MO and I see bugs all the time, but this one is new to me. Have these been common in Missouri, or are they relocating in the changing climate?



Dobsonflies are local for your part of the country, but they are dependant upon a nearby water source. Year to year normal climate changes do affect yearly insect populations.

Letter 112 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Male Dobsonfly I believe
Thanks to your website, i was able to identify this wicked looking critter. I haven’t seen a Mississippi version of this insect on your site, so, i decided to send you one. This must be a young one, measuring between 3 and 4 inches total. It was photographed in central Mississippi in June 2008.
Darrell B. Lloyd



Hi Darrell,
Some of our readers tend to exagerate or miscalculate the size of their insects. Even at 3 to 4 inches, a male Dobsonfly is an impressive insect.

Letter 113 – Male Dobsonfly

 

I know, I know…
A male Dobson Fly….
After reading countless inquries on your website, I now know that THIS is a male Dobson Fly. But mine is bigger than most on your site. All the others say their flies are about 4 inches. I have my size 12 shoe next to mine. He was easily 6 inches long. And believe me… size does matter. The people at the campground were freaking out over this bug.
Mike Weix



Hi Mike,
It is obvious by the cocky tone of your email that you want the size of your, um Dobsonfly acknowledged online, and we are happy to acquiesce. We are also somewhat convinced that this will now launch a “my Dobsonfly is bigger than yours” competition among our readership. Where is the photo that arrived last week with the measuring tape? Lost in the black hole that is our email account.

Letter 114 – Male Dobsonfly with atrophied wings

 

Identify
We were camping along Pine Creek in PA. This insect hung around for 2 days. Never saw anything like it before. Could you please identify it for us. Thanks
Bill & Maryann



Hi Bill and Maryann,
This is a male Dobsonfly. For some reason its wings have atrophied. Without properly developed wings, he will not fly. The male Dobsonfly is a spectacular insect and though frightening looking, it is harmless. You should see how magnificent a properly developed male looks next to your poor disabled creature.

Letter 115 – Male Dobsonfly

 


I live in Lakewood Ranch, FL and found this 4 inch long bug outside my front door. Any ideas?? Warm Regards,
Tanya Farley



Hi Tanya,
What a beautiful male Dobsonfly. Though he looks fierce, he is perfectly harmless.

Letter 116 – Male Dobsonfly

 

unknown critter
This beauty was flying around at night in the country near Raleigh Durham, N.C. My 6 year old is an insect fanatic and spent the morning with it. We refer to her as "the bug whisperer". Checked your site under moths, but found nothing similar. Alexandra would love to know what it is.
Christopher Capps
Medinah,Il



Hi Christopher and Alexandra,
This is a male Dobsonfly. We haven’t posted an image of a Dobsonfly since late August. The male, despite his formidable mandibles, is quite harmless. The female, whose mandibles are more functional, might nip if provoked, be she too is harmless. The larvae, known as Hellgrammites, are a favorite bait of fishermen. The butterfly on the t-shirt is a very nice touch. We are sure this image will horrify some visitors to our site.

Letter 117 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Corydalus texanus?
Thought you might like this picture. We took it in Fredericksburg, Texas around midnight.
Stefan



Hi Stefan,
While Corydalus is the genus for the Dobsonfly, we are not sure how to distinguish the species. The Eastern Dobsonfly is Corydalus cornutus. Your photo is magnificent.

Letter 118 – Male Dobsonfly

 

bug picture
Dear Bugman,
thanks so much for this site! This very strange bug was on a neighboring tent at an art fair in Waterville, Maine, today and all day long NO ONE could identify it. Some said it was a Stone fly, but I searched and searched and none of them was like it. So then I searched on "flies with pincers" and found your site, and another picture of this guy was on top of your page! I am emailing this photo with the ruler next to it because it’s such a good one. THANKS!
Pam Ellis,
Rangeley, Maine



Hi Pam,
Thanks for sending us your great photo of a male Dobsonfly.

Letter 119 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Can you tell me…
What kind of insect this is? I took this photo today outside my apartment building. Thank you
Diane



Hi Diane,
This is a male Dobsonfly. We keep an image of a Dobsonfly on our homepage all summer, but the current photo is pretty far down and requires that our readership actually knows how to scroll down a page.

Letter 120 – Male Dobsonfly

 

male dobson fly
Hi there,
I believe this is a picture of a male dobson fly… we found him by the Allegheny River in Warren, PA. Thanks for the great website, very informative!!
Melissa



Hi Melissa,
What an absolutely gorgeous specimen of a male Dobsonfly you have photographed. He is a trophey specimen for sure. Eric Eaton provided this observation: “The male dobsonfly has emerged so recently that his wings are not yet dry and his pigment not fully expressed, as evidenced by his white jaws. Eric”

Letter 121 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Can you tell me what kind of bug this is?
My son is like a bug "magnet." He finds the most interesting bugs and it almost seems like he attracts them. Today, he found the bug in these photos. I have NEVER seen anything like it, nor have I ever seen anything this big in Vermont. Can you tell me what this is? Thanks!
Erika Martin



Hi Erika,
First, we have an especial fondness for posting insect pictures that would never be found in traditional identification guides, and this is one of the most amusing. We can only imagine what hallucination your son thought he was having after the conspicuous consumption that the photograph evidences. This is a harmless male Dobsonfly.

Letter 122 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Big nasty bug
Hey,
I know that this is a dobsonfly, I just thought it was unusually large. Maybe you could use it as a picture on your website Thanks
Mindy



Hi Mindy,
This is the first male Dobsonfly image we have received this year. We wish you had told us where this occurred.

Letter 123 – Male Dobsonfly

 

locust like with very long pincers Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 6:38 PM We found a live bug in the trees of the North Georgia Mountains. It is 4 and 1/4 inches long with long, external, transparent wings, marked with black “sketches” to look like birch bark. It has what appears to be two sets of small mandibles, one set it straight and the other curved. It also has a pair of very long, thin, 2 inch mandible like peices that resemble calipers and cross in front. Its head is large, thick and ziggurat shaped. The bug also has a strong rotting oder. (It is very alive and kicking however–not dead!) I appologize for the condition of the photo–I don’t have a great zoom on my camera. Thanks so much for your help! Heather Johnston Elijay, North Georgia Mountians
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Heather, The descriptiveness and entertainment value of your letter more than makes up for the blurriness of your photo. This is a male Dobsonfly who can be distinguished from the female by his caliper-like mandibles. Though they look quite fierce, they actually are incapable of biting. The female is the biter. The mandibles of the male are used, according to what we have read, in the mating process or in the competition for the mate. We would love to see photo documentation of that. We have just recently posted several photos of female Dobsonflies and a photo of the closely related Giant Fishfly, so your letter is a welcome addition to our site. The Dobsonfly is one of our most common summer identification requests. Thank you for your response.  It is particularly good to know that the dobsonfly does not wield those mandibles on hikers! Much appreciation, Heather Johnston

Letter 124 – Male Dobsonfly

 

giant 5″, beetle-like bug with long mandibles, 6 legs and 4 glassy clear and black wings Fri, Jun 26, 2009 at 10:56 AM he or she is clinging on the wall outside our office in Indianapolis, in the shade, it’s about 95 degrees outside. When agitated with a paper, it bites at the paper with mandibles, but doesn’t fly away. It moved over to the edge of the column away from the paper after a while. It did not move it’s wings at all, but would move it’s head, articulating on the long neck. My guess is some kind of North American Stag Beetle? Maybe it’s moulting or something and doesn’t want to use it’s wings? Disappointed I can’t use “Green or Brown, depending on if I’ve watered.” as the answer to the human test. Alex in Indy Indianapolis, IN, USA
Dobsonfly
Dobsonfly
Hi Alex, We have been away for several days attending a wonderful outdoor wedding in the redwood forest in Mendocino. While there we saw our very first live Banana Slug, though we did not photograph it. We will talk to our web host about the human question on our form. This is actually a male Dobsonfly. We have recently posted several images of female Dobsonflies with their smaller mandibles as well as an image of an immature Hellgrammite. The male Dobsonfly, according to the information we have read, uses his mandibles to compete for a mate, but we have never seen photo documentation to that effect.

Letter 125 – Male Dobsonfly

 

5 inch flying bug with huge tusks Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 8:51 AM The picture says it all Jim Jefferson, Iowa USA
Dobsonfly
Dobsonfly
Hi Jim, Nice photo of a male Dobsonfly.

Letter 126 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Male Dobsonfly July 10, 2009 I live near the Susquehanna river in NE Pennsylvania and often visit with my camera. Today I went down after work, dropped my camera bag on the bank and went to work photographing wildflowers. I turned back to my bag in time to see this guy crawling up to the top, where he latched onto the handle and proceeded to flap his wings furiously (thus the motion blur, sorry). Seriously, I think he was humping my bag. I’m wondering if he mistook my hairclip for a female 🙂 I took a few shots, then found a stick and shooed him away. And of course, took a few shots of him on the ground. That one is blurry because I am a chicken and didn’t want to get too close. Jeanne Northeastern PA
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Jeanne, We already posted two Dobsonfly images today, but your letter is so wonderful and you photo is so great, we really needed to add it to our site as well.  Thanks for an excellent contribution.

Letter 127 – Male Dobsonfly crashes wedding

 

Bug ID Help July 20, 2009 Dear What’s that Bug, We found this bug near the Apple River last Saturday while photographing a wedding party. None of us had seen anything like it. Can you identify it for us? Don’t worry, the bug was not harmed and we released it to go on his/her merry way after the photos were taken. Sincerely, Curious Photographer Star Prairie, WI
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly Thanks for the ID…it does look like this but I was confused because this one was so big…I would say the body was 5-6 inches long and close to 8 inches long with the wings… Dear Curious Photographer, Sometimes in an attempt to respond to as many requests as possible, we just provide a name.  Now that we have more time, we have decided to post your letter.  We love the formal attire of the gentleman in the photo, but we wish the resolution was higher. I can send you a higher rrsolution photo during my lunch if you would like 🙂 Tue, 21 Jul 2009 Here is the higher resolution image…
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly

Letter 128 – Male Dobsonfly

 

The Doombug August 3, 2009 I work at a summer camp in eastern Nebraska near the Platte river. One morning one of the counselors discovered this on their front porch. None of us have any idea what it is, but we labeled it “The Doombug”. It was a little over two inches long (and completely terrifying to behold, if you ask me). Any ideas on what this thing is? Christina Eastern Nebraska
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Christina, Doombug is far took bleak of a name for this spectacular male Dobsonfly, a harmless species despite its fierce appearance.

Letter 129 – Male Dobsonfly and request for photo documentation

 

Weird bug with wings August 13, 2009 This bug was found in the corner of an outside window . We tried to make it fly away and it did not. It has long wings and the strange looking head and feelers. Just would like to know what it is. Out of four of us, none of us had ever seen such a bug. Wanda Walling, TN
Male Dobsonfly:  What exactly does he do with those mandibles???
Male Dobsonfly: What exactly does he do with those mandibles???
Hi Wanda, He is big.  He is scary and he is perfectly harmless.  He is a male Dobsonfly.  From all we have read, those impressive mandibles are used somehow in the mating process.  We have read that they are used by males to compete for the attention of females, perhaps in battle, and we have also heard that the male uses them to subdue the female during copulation.  All this is just hearsay and one photo would say it all.  Doesn’t anyone have a photo that demonstrates just why a male Dobsonfly needs those impressive mandibles?  The female Dobsonfly, with her much smaller though more functional mandibles, might deliver a pinch if she is carelessly handled, but she too is harmless.

Letter 130 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Moth or ?? August 19, 2009 I found this moth like buy in front of my garage door under where the hallogen light is. Usually I find many lunar moths there but found this today. Approx 3 inches long, narrow moth like bug. Pinchers on the front and antenae above the pinchers. Do you have any idea what it is? I have searched some moth web sites etc,,,,but cannot find anything similar. Thanks Deb Central Maine USA
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Deb, Now that you know that this is a male Dobsonfly, you should be able to locate a wealth of online information. Female Dobsonflies have much smaller mandibles.   Since we just finished posting some marvelous images of a female Dobsonfly from Peru, we feel compelled to post your photo as well.

Letter 131 – Male Dobsonfly in Canada, In December???

 

long odd bug with weird coloring December 6, 2009 we were camping in ontario and came across this bug walking on the grass Sarah Veilleux ontario
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Sarah, December is sure an odd time of year to encounter a male Dobsonfly in Canada. sorry, it was september. i forgot to mention that. are they abundant in canada? thanks They are not uncommon.

Letter 132 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Some sort of moth? January 20, 2010 Hi Bugpeople! I’ve been an avid reader of your site for the past year or so and I’ve been meaning to submit this photo for some time. It looks like some sort of moth, but I’ve never seen one with a mandible that size. This was taken in the early summer of 2005 in Southwestern Connecticut. It was on the pavement outside of a well-lit strip mall around 9 or 10 PM. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything in the photos for scale, but from the tip of the mandible to the other end was about 6 inches. It was very slow-moving and did not scurry or seem alarmed at the presence of several people crowding around it. What’s that bug? Thanks and keep up the great work! Alexis K. Norwalk, CT
Dobsonfly
Hi Alexis, We are happy to hear you are a fan of our website.  This stunning creature is a male Dobsonfly.  The mandibles indicate that it is a male.  Though they are rather frightening in appearance, they are harmless, but the much more modest appearing mandibles of the female are capable of producing a painful pinch if she is carelessly handled.  This sexual dimorphism indicates that the mandibles of the male have developed as either an aid in mating, or as a competition between males for sexual prowess, but despite the frequency of Dobsonfly submissions to our site, we have yet to see a photograph of either the actual mating act, or the male using his mandibles in any manner.  Adult Dobsonflies are short lived and do not feed, living only to mate and produce a new generation.

Letter 133 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Large Mottled Insect May 21, 2010 I found this insect outside an office building in the parking lot. It ws the most unusual insect I think I have ever seen. The bug was about 4 inches long and not the least bit shy. It walked towards me instead of away and tried to crawl up onto my shoe. I was just wondering what it is and a little more about it. Leah Cullman, Ala
Dobsonfly
Hi Leah, We know that summer is coming when the Dobsonfly images start to arrive in our email box.  This is a male Dobsonfly, which may be distinguished from the female by his trophy mandibles.  The female’s less impressive mouthparts are actually much more utilitarian, and she is able to deliver a painful pinch if carelessly handled.  We have read that the male uses his saber-like mandibles for mating and/or jousting with other males, and we long for a photo documentation that illustrates the behavior.

Letter 134 – Male Dobsonfly

 

long hooks May 19, 2010 Long hooks I looked this insect up and saw nothing online Dont matter South Texas
Dobsonfly
This is a harmless Dobsonfly.

Letter 135 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Dallas winged horned bug, 3 inches long June 4, 2010 Took this today, June 4th, in Dallas TX. About 3 inches long before the horns. I’ve never seen anything like it. Huge thick horns. thin delicate wings. and the abdomen undulates like there is something inside… Definitely has my imagination going. HR Dallas
Male Dobsonfly
Dear HR, This is a great image of a male Dobsonfly.  The female has much less impressive, but infinitely more practical mandibles. What a cool website. Thanks! HR

Letter 136 – Male Dobsonfly

 

New home – new bugs! – Followup – Male Dobsonfly? June 8, 2010 OK, 3rd posting to you guys….and I think I finally identified the last bug of the 3 I sent you pictures of last Friday. I had lots of trouble even knowing where to start with this one online because I had no idea even what family to look in. But a photo of a green lacewing looked like maybe the right family, and from there, I found it! A male Dobsonfly, I presume? Lexington Texas….. Mary Beth Kelley Lexington, Texas – on screened porch on home near small lake
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Mary Beth, You are absolutely correct.  This is a male Dobsonfly.  We have posted numerous images of Dobsonflies on our website in the past few weeks as sightings have been plentiful.  We apologize for not responding to your requests, but we are only able to answer a small fraction of the letters we receive.  We will see if we can find your other requests in our inbox.  Hopefully you signed all your letters similarly. Thank you, Daniel.  I understand you can’t reply to all requests…no problem.  I don’t think you need to backtrack to find the other requests – the first one included pictures of 2 different moths, but since I knew what type of bugs those were, I’m pretty sure I nailed them down.  Since we’ve recently moved to Lexington Texas from Bee Cave Texas and have a small pond in front of the house, bugs are much more plentiful here than where we used to live, and many of them I’ve never seen before.  I’ll try not to “bug” you too much with new requests.  Your website is SO helpful, I expect I can find many of them myself….much easier if I can at least guess what type of bug it is…the Dobsonfly had me stumped for several days till I saw a picture of a green lacewing and figured they might be in the same family. Thanks again for all you do.

Letter 137 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Enormous Flying Terror June 14, 2010 I was outside my apartment in the wee hours of the morning, before sunrise, and as I returned I noticed this enormous eldritch insect god waiting patiently outside my neighbor’s place, possibly in preparation for harvesting my soul for the apocalypse. I am unsure of the dark intent that brings it here, but I am certain that I feel a heavy foreboding over me. It must have been, without exaggeration, no less than five inches in length. I did not kill it, partially out of a deep awe, and partially because I am fairly certain that, in a fair fight, it could take me. What sort of bug is this, and what brings it to this plane of being? Owner of a Newly-Found Dread Arlington, TX
Male Dobsonfly
Dear ONFD, Despite his fearsome appearance, the male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  Females have less impressive but more utilitarian mandibles, and they are able to produce a nip that might draw blood.  We have been getting numerous requests this spring to identify both the adult Dobsonflies and the equally frightening larvae which are known as Hellgrammites.

Letter 138 – Male Dobsonfly

 

What is this huge bug called? July 14, 2010 What is this crazy looking bug? My mother and I found it on our porch one morning and we have only witnessed one similar bug about a year ago. The bug was found in July, in Reno County of Kansas. It measured close to 5 inches in length, and has what appears to be enormous mandibles protruding from it’s head. At first glance we thought maybe they were stingers of some sort, but when prodded with a stick the bug clamped down with them, leading us to believe they were mandibles, jaws, or pincers of some kind. We would really like to know what type of bug this is, as we don’t see it often, and are curious about it’s living arrangements and what brought it up onto our porch. I was hoping that with a name I could do some online research and learn more about this bug, what i t eats, where it lives, and what it’s life cycle is like. Thanks in advance! Devin Long and Becky Redden Buhler, Kansas
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Devin and Becky, Your photo of a male Dobsonfly on a flyswatter has us terribly amused, probably in part because we were just making some changes to the history of the flyswatter section of our book.  Female Dobsonflies have much smaller mandibles.  We keep hearing that the male Dobsonfly uses his mandibles in either sparring contests with other males over females, or in the actual mating process, though we have never seen a photo to document either of these activities.  Adult Dobsonflies do not feed.  It was probably attracted to the porch light.

Letter 139 – Copyright Infringement: Male Dobsonfly is a handful

 

Ed. Note:  August 7, 2011 Please do not submit photos to our website that you do not have permission to use.  We do not tolerate copyright infringement. Crazy Big Bug Location: Killeen, TX January 29, 2011 10:59 pm Well I woke up to go to work one day aroung 5:30 am, and this bug was on the outside wall next to my door. This was back in November, it was pretty cold then so I was really surprised to see this guy just chillin on my wall. Signature: X-Soldier
Jo Ann's photo returns to What's That Bug? Corydalus cornutus - Eastern Dobsonfly Male July 10 2008 Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania
Dear X-soldier, That male Dobsonfly is sure a handful.  Though we are quite certain this image will give some of our website visitors nightmares, the male Dobsonfly is quite harmless as those incredible mandibles are useless for biting.  Though the female Dobsonfly is also harmless, her more utilitarian mandibles might deliver a painful pinch if she is carelessly handled.  The larvae of the Dobsonfly are known as Hellgrammites, and they are a favored bait for freshwater fishermen. Hey Daniel, I really appreciate you getting back to me with this bug. When I told people about it no one believed me. Thanks again for the help! Update:  August 7, 2011 We just learned today that the image that was submitted with this letter was not taken by X-soldier.  This image was taken by Jo Ann Poe-McGavin in 2008 and it was posted on the Pennsylvania Wild website.  At Jo Ann’s request, we have removed the image to avoid copyright infringement.  See the attached comments for additional information. Copyright violation & log in Website: www.pawild.net August 7, 2011 9:15 am The Dobson Fly male photo on: category/dobsonflies-and-fishflies/page/4/ Posted by x-soldier was actually taken by me in 2008 and the copyright notice on the photo was removed-I have the original on file with the original EXIF data I would like the senders information to inform them of copyright violation also your website does not allow log in The information was give to you was false as well. This photo was taken in 2008 in Pennsylvania. Signature: Jo Ann Poe-McGavin Dear Jo Ann, We apologize for this copyright infringement.  We were not aware that the image was not taken by x-soldier.  For the record, we did not remove the copyright.  We are attaching the original file that we downloaded before we cropped and resized it. The image will be immediately removed from What’s That Bug?  Should you decide to allow us to continue to keep the photo posted on our site, we will provide an editor’s comment explaining the situation and we will give you full credit as well as linking to your site. We want to reiterate that we did not pilfer this image from your site and then remove the copyright information.  We do not know how x-soldier obtained the image. Please advise. Daniel Marlos, AKA the Bugman P.S.  We will try to locate the contact information for X-soldier and forward it to you, but we often delete emails. Dear Daniel I’m not sure how this image was pilfered or when-except that it might have downloaded from it’s post on my Deviant Art account or PAWild (my website) and someone-not you-removed the copyright info-I’ve been finding this photo on many sites in this condition posted by numerous people and they provide false information. Each gives a different name and date when it was taken and where. Sigh….. I don’t mind your site using it if the proper info is given. Credit, date, etc.  Corydalus cornutus – Eastern Dobsonfly Male July 10 2008 Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania I am attaching the photo as it appears on my website and how it should be. If you can’t find the info on the sender-that’s okay-more than likely they will deny everything-as usual. Thanks for your time on this Jo www.pawild.net Thanks Jo Ann, We have returned the photo to the posting along with much of our dialog. Dear Daniel That’s just fine-and way more than I expected. I apologize for not writing back sooner but due to someone calling with a Rattlesnake in their yard and a minor health problem-I wasn’t able to answer until now. Thank-you for fixing it up.  :3 Jo www.pawild.net Hi Daniel, I think you’re website is awesome-I have looked at it many times-especially while looking for the caterpillar that stung me-Saddlebacks and the like. I am also fascinated by the related species posted from other countries. Just curious did the other one listed below come from the same IP? I’m not sure why someone would go through such trouble to post someone else’s photo and ask for information when most people can take their own photo. I get sent some pretty bad photos of snakes (and drawings-classic-I love them) but I can still ID them. Nothing people try to ID is worthless if they found it. BTW-more than likely you’ll never hear from the poster again. If you do-I’d love to see what they post. Again thanks! Jo www.pawild.net Hi again Jo Ann, Since our staff is divided between editorial and technical, and since we get such a large number of requests, the person who responds to the emails doesn’t really monitor the IP addresses.  We do have some frequent contributors though, but they submit their own photographs.  The monitoring of internet piracy can really become a fulltime job that our small staff does not have the luxury of employing.  We actually get our share of drawings and we try to post the most amusing ones.  That reminds us that we just received a drawing that we believe is a Robber Fly, and though we responded, we did not have the time to post it.  We may try to hunt that one down and do it now.  Had the internet been around before Daniel fled Youngstown, Ohio on the Pennsylvania border in the late 1970s, he probably would have been a frequent user of your site.    

Letter 140 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Freaky Bug Location: San Antonio, TX May 7, 2011 8:46 pm We see this bug occasionally at a friend’s ranch. Can you tell me what it is and if it’s dangerous at all? We live in Texas and it’s currently in the 80s and sunny on a regular basis. Signature: Kas
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Kas, Despite its formidable looking mandibles, the male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  The female with the smaller but more practical mouthparts might bite if carelessly handles, but she too is considered harmless.

Letter 141 – Male Dobsonfly

 

unknown bug Location: Good Hope High School, Cullman, AL June 1, 2011 9:59 am I have a picture of a bug that I just found outside of my classroom. Actually there are two of them. No clue what they are. I teach math. Can you tell me what kind of bug this would be? can I send you a picture of it for identification? Signature: Angela Doss
Dobsonfly
Hi Angela, The spectacular mandibles identify this Dobsonfly as a male of the species.  In one of your photos it appears the Dobsonfly is in a dust bin with some blue thread wrapped around his left saber-like mandible.
Dobsonfly

Letter 142 – Male Dobsonfly

 

very strange pincher beetle that flies! Location: front porch in Missouri June 18, 2011 11:27 am Dear Bugman, We found this strange and unusual bug on my front porch. Its about a good 3 to 4 inches. Long pinchers and has wings. We are having trouble to identify this strange bug. Can you help? Signature: Lindsey
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Lindsey, Because of its large size and exaggerated mandibles, the male Dobsonfly is probably responsible for uncountable nightmares, though he is perfectly harmless.  The females and aptly named larval Hellgrammites might also keep folks awake at night, and though females and larvae may bite, they are not considered dangerous.

Letter 143 – Male Dobsonfly

 

What bug is this? Location: Virginia June 19, 2011 9:27 am My friend showed me this bug that was on her deck. Signature: Dylan D
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Dylan, Each year around this time, our mailbox is flooded with requests to identify Dobsonflies.  Your individual is a male, as evidenced by his incredible mandibles, which are allegedly used during the mating process.  We have been waiting for years for an image of mating Dobsonflies.  We just found this awesome documentation of Dobsonfly courtship on Seabrooke Leckie’s website.

Letter 144 – Male Dobsonfly

 

4.5” Long flying bug with large pincers Location: Enola, PA June 30, 2011 7:15 pm I found this beauty on my shed door after mowing my yard on June 25th. I’m in central PA. I’ve lived here 11 years and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I got very close to it and it kept turning it’s head to look at me when I was photographing it, but never attempted to flee or bite. Signature: Gary Manis
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Gary, We knew what insect you wanted identified by your subject line before even viewing the photos.  Dobsonflies are one of our most frequently asked summer identification requests.  This beauty is a male who may be distinguished by the mandibles.  We wonder what injury resulted in the broken right mandible.
Male Dobsonfly

Letter 145 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Big Ugly Bug Location: Central Missouri July 12, 2011 8:00 pm What is this thing?? Signature: Harrah
Dobsonfly
Hi Harrah, Many people would disagree with you that this male Dobsonfly is an ugly bug.  Dobsonflies are among our most frequent summer identification requests.  We are post dating this letter to go live over the weekend while we are out of the office.

Letter 146 – Male Dobsonfly

 

JHU bug Location: Baltimore, Maryland July 19, 2011 8:48 am Hi, We spotted this HUGE about –5 inches long — insect on the Johns Hopkins Campus in Baltimore, Maryland. The date is July 19. No one has ever seen such a bug! We hope it did not escape from a lab. We still have too many stinkbugs in MD! Thanks for your help. Signature: Pma J
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Pma J, You have encountered a male Dobsonfly, and it is a native local insect for you.  The female has considerably smaller mandibles. Thanks so much! Everyone in the office is happy to know that it’s a local bug! I’m glad that people left it alone. People get so freaked out by a large insect. — Pam

Letter 147 – Male Dobsonfly

 

scary looking Location: south texas April 20, 2012 5:40 pm Found this bug while working in the oilfield. kinda scary looking. Signature: mike
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Mike, Despite being scary looking, the male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  The female, which has much smaller though more utilitarian mandibles, might produce a painful bite, but since Dobsonflies lack venom, they will not harm you.

Letter 148 – Male Dobsonfly

 

weird bug Location: macon ga May 1, 2012 7:53 pm I saw this bug outside a gas station and decided to take a picture of it. I’ve never seen anything like it. Its about five or six inches long and about a half inch wide. It didn’t move or make any noise. If you can figure out what it is please let me know. I took the picture Monday April 30 2012 early afternoon. Signature: Charles Pye
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Charles, Now that spring has arrived, we expect to be receiving many photos of Dobsonflies from the curious public.  Despite his fierce looking mandibles, this male Dobsonfly is quite harmless.  The female Dobsonflies are the biters, but since they lack venom, the most damage they will do to a human is a mild pinch.

Letter 149 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: large bug identification help Location: Alto, Michigan June 15, 2012 7:33 pm My dog just discovered this huge bug in our back yard (lower peninsula of Michigan). Please idenfiy this bug for us. The photo has my 6 year old son’s finger in for size. The body is long and the mandibles are a couple of inches. Thanks in advance!!! Signature: Cheri
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Cheri, It is refreshing to see that those fierce-looking mandibles did not intimidate your son.  The male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  You are our first posting upon returning from a week long holiday in Ohio.

Letter 150 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: HUGE BU IN VERMONT Location: FAIRHAVEN VERMONT July 15, 2012 9:38 pm I RECENTLY WAS IN VERMONT (JULY) AND THIS GIANT BUG HUNG OUT OVER THE MAIN DOORWAY EVERYDAY. BEING FROM LONG ISLAND NY, I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS. ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED. Signature: JOE
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Joe, This male Dobsonfly is well represented in our archives due to the numerous reports we receive each summer.  The large size and unusual appearance prompts people who do not normally notice bugs to wonder what it might be.

Letter 151 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: What the heck is this?? Location: Auburn Alabama October 30, 2012 2:54 pm I saw this bug in a state park and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t scare the crap out of me. The body was somewhere between 5-6 inches long but with those massive pincher things, ~ 10 inches long! I was huge, but never moved. Signature: Lauren
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Lauren, We suspect that this photo of a male Dobsonfly was not taken recently, and more likely than not it was taken earlier in the year, during the summer, since most of our Dobsonfly identification requests come between May and August.  Dobsonflies are perfectly harmless, though females, which have considerably smaller mandibles, might bite in defense.  The mandibles of the male, though impressive, are not designed for biting.

Letter 152 – Male Dobsonfly from Peru attacked by possible Paper Wasp

 

Subject: Male Dobsonfly Location: Machu Picchu cloud forest December 18, 2012 12:12 pm This male dobsonfly was stung (hunted) by a wasp in the first, unfortunately blurry, photo. In the second photo it is, rather jerkily, crawling away from the encounter. I actually didn’t notice the wasp until I was processing the photo later that evening. The photo was taken in the waterfall and orchid garden behind the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge on December 4th. Signature: Peter
Dobsonfly attacked by Wasp
Dear Peter, We are very intrigued by this documentation.  The wasp might be one of the Paper Wasps, but if that is not correct, we are relatively certain it is some species of social wasp.  We suspect the wasp is attacking the Dobsonfly in order to feed larval wasps in the nest.  The legs that are obviously missing from the Dobsonfly might have been bitten off by the wasp so that parts of a meal could be carried off to the nest as it would be a physical impossibility for the wasp to carry off the entire Dobsonfly.  We suspect that this wasp or other members of the nest eventually killed and dismantled the Dobsonfly piece by piece in an effort to feed the brood.  This is a marvelous documentation of the Food Chain.
Dobsonfly Maimed after Wasp Attack

Letter 153 – Male Dobsonfly from Panama

 

Subject: Unknown bug Location: panama December 19, 2012 8:34 pm This weird insect was perched on the wall of a lodge near Coche, Panama – photographed in December 2012. Signature: Doug
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Doug, This is a male Dobsonfly.  We do not know the exact name of this Panamanian species, but it looks very similar to the Eastern Dobsonfly, Corydalus cornutus, which is found in North America.

Letter 154 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Mystery Bug Location: Tuscaloosa, AL January 3, 2013 8:59 pm I found this bug dead in my basement and would love to know what it is. I have never seen anything like it. Signature: Scott Light
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Scott, Despite his frightening appearance, this male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  He will not harm you, your pets or your home.

Letter 155 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: ???Dragonfly bodied mutant never seen b4 bug?? Location: Crestview, Florida May 26, 2013 9:21 pm I’ve been around 40 years and I have never seen an insect like this before. It was on my garage door late one night. It has 2 sets of wings that look like they are from a cicada, beyond that its just weird. Signature: Don Wilson
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Don, This impressive creature is a male Dobsonfly, and Dobsonflies are among our most common identification requests during the summer months.  Despite the impressive mandibles, Dobsonflies are harmless.  Your submission will go live next week since we are leaving the office for a short holiday and we are postdating submissions to go live during our absence.

Letter 156 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: winged insect, 2 sets antennae? Location: Jefferson, MD July 18, 2013 6:32 pm This bug stayed on our window screen for almost two days before moving off. The underside looks similar to a very large earwig with and what appear to be 2 sets of antennae. Signature: LindaBA
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear LindaBA, This is a male Dobsonfly, and what you have mistaken for a second set of antennae is actually his mandibles.

Letter 157 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: STRANGE BUG Location: greenbelt, maryland July 25, 2013 4:58 am this was located on the side of a cement building next to a grassy area. About 8 am in the morning temperature was around 62. Greenbelt, MD. long antenna in front move when motion in front of it. definitely has wings. and horns on its head Signature: jean manall
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Jean, We imagine your encounter with this male Dobsonfly was an eye opening event for you.  Though he looks fierce, he is perfectly harmless.

Letter 158 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Our Camping Friend Location: Chaplin, Connecticut December 10, 2013 11:45 am This large friend spent about three weeks with us living under the outdoor gazebo during the month of June. At first my kids we’re a bit startled by it’s mere size, at least 6 inches from head to wingtip. But soon he became a member of the family. The kids were sad to wake up one morning so see their friend gone. The kids have been doing their research, but have cam up empty! Signature: e-mail
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear e-mail, Even with the lack of clarity in your image, the shape of a harmless male Dobsonfly is unmistakeable. 

Letter 159 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: what is this bug Location: Lancaster Texas June 6, 2014 12:14 pm this bug was on our walkway Signature: Joe
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Hi Joe, This frightfully prehistoric looking insect is a harmless male Dobsonfly.

Letter 160 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: freaky bug found in northern Georgia Location: Blue Ridge Mountains, Northern Georgia June 19, 2014 4:43 pm I recently took a trip up to the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia and I came across this thing sitting on my porch during a thunderstorm. I’m not worried about it being dangerous or anything, but I’ve been trying to identify it ever since I saw it, and I can’t find anything on the internet about it, so I’d be very grateful if you could help me out! Signature: -Alyson
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Alyson, We field so many identification requests for Dobsonflies like the one in your image, that we have it in out Top Ten tag along with Wheel Bugs, Toe-Biters, Potato Bugs and Eyed Elaters.  We chuckled when we saw you named your file “hell bug” and though he looks quite fierce, this male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  The much less impressive looking female Dobsonfly has smaller, but much more practical mandibles, and a bite, though harmless, has been reported to draw blood.

Letter 161 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Wtb?))) Location: Bush kill pa July 7, 2014 4:06 pm Not important .. Just wonder what is it Signature: ARKADIA
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear ARKADIA, Because of their large size and impressive mandibles, harmless male Dobsonflies leave a lasting first impression on people.

Letter 162 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Bug in becket ma Location: Becket Ma July 22, 2014 8:54 pm This bug landed on my door screen in late June . It stayed for two days. It was about four inches tall. I have summered in the Berkshires for thirty years and never seen a bug so big. I did not kill it . I must have flown off on the second night. Signature: Barbara French
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Barbara, The mandibles and large size of a male Dobsonfly are the stuff of nightmares for folks who are afraid of bugs, but despite the fierce appearance, male Dobsonflies are perfectly harmless.  Female Dobsonflies, though their mandibles are considerably smaller, pose a greater threat of biting, and though the bite might be painful and possibly even draw blood, they are not venomous.

Letter 163 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Mantis-like Location: Potomac Maryland June 7, 2015 3:38 pm Hello, We encountered this insect on walk near the Potomac river in Maryland. At first we thought it was a Praying Mantis, but looking at the photograph we are not certain. Your help appreciated. Signature: Curious in MD
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Curious in MD, This amazing insect is a male Dobsonfly, who despite his fearsome looking mandibles, is perfectly harmless.  We will be setting your submission to go live to our site in mid-June while we are out of the office for a spell.

Letter 164 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Male Dobsonfly?? Location: Brunswick Family Campground, MD June 8, 2015 10:09 am Hello. I was camping this past weekend on the Potomac River; near Harpers Ferry WV and found the attached bug. It was about 5″ long; overall length including the front antenna’s. The attached pictures show both top and bottom view. Some of the guys at work believe it may be a Dobsonfly??? Can you confirm? Thanks for the info…. Signature: Bob
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Bob, This is indeed a male Dobsonfly, and he is magnificent.

Letter 165 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Dobson Fly pic Location: 35031, Blountsville, AL June 9, 2015 4:58 am No question, but here’s a Dobson Fly pic if you need it. It was 4.5 inches from pincer tip to wingtip. Signature: Kerry
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Kerry, Thank you for submitting your image of a male Dobsonfly.

Letter 166 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: 4″ plus winged bug with pinchers Location: upstate NY July 23, 2015 8:03 am Hi I found this bug resting on my deck railing yesterday. The ruler moved as I took the picture but it is over 4″ long, has wings that are tan, brown and black, beady black eyes and “pinchers”. I did not see it fly or land. An hour or so after I took the pictures it was resting on the vinyl siding of my house about three feet away. It was gone this morning. I am in Upstate NY about 45 miles north of Albany and about 20 miles west of Vermont border. Signature: Kathy
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Kathy, Despite his fearsome appearance, this male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless as his mandibles cannot pierce or bite human skin.  Though her mandibles are much less impressive looking, the female Dobsonfly is actually capable of biting if carelessly handled, and she might draw blood, but again, she is considered harmless. Thank you so much! I have never heard of that insect but now am going to research it. They are usually found near bodies of water.

Letter 167 – Male Dobsonfly from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Crazy Jungle Bug Location: Costa Rica May 7, 2016 9:39 pm Found this thing at a rest stop in Costa Rica. It’s almost as big as my palm. What on earth is it? Signature: Ryan
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Ryan, We cannot provide you with an exact species name, but this is a male Dobsonfly from the subfamily Corydalinae.  Despite the formidable looking mandibles, male Dobsonflies are perfectly harmless.

Letter 168 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Beautiful Insect Location: Birmingham Alabama June 7, 2016 4:35 pm Found on a bed in Birmingham Alabama . Presuming it entered through an open window and was comfortable enough to stay. I carefully got it to crawl into a paper towel and carried it outdoors. Signature: David Gentry
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear David, We love that you consider this male Dobsonfly to be beautiful.  Male Dobsonflies are harmless.  We are tagging this submission with the Bug Humanitarian Award for the kindness you showed in relocating it outdoors.

Letter 169 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Cool Bug Location: Ottawa, Ohio June 18, 2016 7:02 pm Hoping someone can identify this really cool looking insect. Signature: Not sure
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
This spectacular insect is a male Dobsonfly, and it is one of our most common summer identification requests.  Despite his formidable looking mandibles, the male Dobsonfly cannot bite and is perfectly harmless, though his mate who has considerably shorter mandibles can deliver a somewhat painful bite that could even draw blood, though she too is considered harmless as she has no poison nor venom.

Letter 170 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Bug found by river in Indiana Location: Bristol, Indiana June 13, 2016 5:42 pm We found this bug while walking by the river in Bristol, Indiana. Signature: Bliss Family
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Bliss Family, This is an awesome image of a male Dobsonfly, and we believe his mandibles are so white because he recently metamorphosed and that they will soon darken, like most of the images we have on our site of male Dobsonflies.

Letter 171 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Large Brown insect with horns Location: New england. NH June 26, 2016 8:32 am Found this insect on our wall near our pepper plants. Live in new Hampshire. Do you know what it is. Thanks Kimber Signature: Kim Lambert
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Kimber, Though this may look like a ghoulish creature from your worst nightmare, the male Dobsonfly is actually quite harmless.  His spectacular mandibles did not evolve to bite and he has no venom or poison.

Letter 172 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Holy bug! Location: Central Virginia June 27, 2016 7:03 am Hi, I just moved to the area and I have these large interesting bugs on my house. They look sort of dangerous. In the earlier stages, when they are smaller, they have pinchers but in the later stages the pinchers grow long and look more like stingers (see picture). Just wondering if these bugs are dangerous, since we have children. Thanks! Signature: M Roberts
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear M Roberts, We just posted another image of a male Dobsonfly, a perfectly harmless insect.  We believe that what you believe to be “earlier stages” is actually some other insect.  Immature Dobsonflies, known as Hellgrammites, are wingless and also quite frightening looking, and they are generally found near water. Thank you so much! That’s exactly what I have. Very helpful to know that they are harmless. Megan Roberts

Letter 173 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: What is this? Location: Ohio July 7, 2016 12:32 pm I found this on a golf course green while working and I never have seen one before, it was pretty big and was looking up at me when I got close to it. Signature: Stin
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Stin, This is a male Dobsonfly, and despite his fearsome appearance, he is perfectly harmless.

Letter 174 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Big bug Location: Sanford, Maine July 14, 2016 5:11 pm I work at a local YMCA and some kiddos found this dude just hanging out on the side of a storage shed. Middle of the morning, really hot ouside, just happened today! I didn’t see him moving at all.. came back a couple of hours later to take another pic and he was only moved slightly. Thanks for your help! Signature: Ashleigh Slowik
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Ashleigh, This is a male Dobsonfly, one of our most common summer identification requests. Thanks for letting me know. What do they do? I can’t believe I’ve never seen one before in my life.. pretty crazy looking. Dobsonflies are generally found not far from a source of water.  The larval Hellgrammites are used as bait by anglers.  Adult Dobsonflies do not eat, living long enough to mate and produce a new generation.  Male Dobsonflies have impressive mandibles that are ineffective in terms of biting to defend themselves, while female Dobsonflies have more utilitarian mandibles that could produce a pinching bite if carelessly handled, but they are still considered harmless toward humans.

Letter 175 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Moth-like looking insect with pitcher-like antenne Location: McNeill, Mississippi July 15, 2016 12:49 pm I Have NEVER seen any insect like this one on my porch right now. I have lived in the South my entire life. What is IT?!!! When I go near it, it points it’s pincher looking antenne towards me in defense!!! It is about 3-4 inches long! Signature: Shantell L.
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Shantell, This is a male Dobsonfly, one of our most common summer identification requests.

Letter 176 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Creepy Location: North Central Texas August 10, 2016 3:33 pm The Bug? flew in and landed on the column at the lake house! No one that has seen pictures have ever seen anything like it. Signature: Karen
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Karen, This is a harmless male Dobsonfly, one of our most common summer identification requests.  Back in 2006, a posting of a male Dobsonfly became our first Bug of the Month, a website feature we have continued every month since then.  
Male Dobsonfly
Male Dobsonfly

Letter 177 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Is this a moth? Location: Hunt Texas – Bear Creek Scout Camo June 24, 2017 11:40 am Friends son went to boy scout camp and got a pic of the bug attached. I think it is a moth but not sure Signature: Steve
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Steve, The mouthparts of a moth form a coiled, tubelike proboscis, unlike this impressive, harmless, male Dobsonfly that has saber-shaped mandibles.  We just found this impressive site, Seabrooke Leckie, with gorgeous mating Dobsonfly images.

Letter 178 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Weird Bug Location: Northern Tennessee June 26, 2017 6:00 am Hello! I found this bug on top of a trash can in Northern Tennessee during the summertime. If you could identify it for me, that would be great. It’s so obscure looking, and I can’t a picture of a bug that looks like it. Thanks! Signature: Thea
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Thea, Because of their large size and spectacular appearance, the male Dobsonfly is one of our most common summer identification requests.

Letter 179 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject: Bug ID Location: Rome, Georgia July 14, 2017 11:19 am Found on exterior wall of the Forum in Rome, Ga. Signature: William
Male Dobsonfly
Dear William, This impressive creature is a harmless, male Dobsonfly.

Letter 180 – Male Dobsonfly in “Threat” Position

 

Subject:  Weird bug with backwards head Geographic location of the bug :  McKinney Texas August 26, 2017 9:22 AM I have no clue what this is It gave me chills it looks like scifi related How you want your letter signed:  None
Male Dobsonfly
Dear None, This is a male Dobsonfly, and we suspect this is a threat position used to intimidate predators.  Those scimitar shaped mandibles look fierce, but they are actually quite useless when it comes to biting humans, so they are harmless.  The mandibles are used by males to impress females and to thwart other males who might be competing for females.  Female Dobsonflies have less impressive looking but more formidable mandibles.
Male Dobsonfly
 

Letter 181 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Please identify Geographic location of the bug:  Iowa Date: 06/17/2018 Time: 07:57 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Please tell what this is How you want your letter signed:  Steve
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Steve, Despite his fearsome appearance, this male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.

Letter 182 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  9” long insect in PA! Geographic location of the bug:  Enola, Pennsylvania Date: 07/08/2018 Time: 05:56 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Hi – I found this large insect on my exterior house wall early evening, July 8th, 2018. It did not move at all, as I was taking the photo or when I placed the measuring tape next to it. We have 20 acres of woods around us, so our home is pretty shaded. Native? I have lived here 13 years and I have not seen this insect before. I sent the image to my neighbor and he said he saw the same insect, last week, also for the first time,  by his office in York, PA. His office is located in an industrial area. Thanks! How you want your letter signed:  Anneli Wrote wrong dimensions in question. Hi – I submitted an insect ID question this morning, but being European I wrote 9” instead of about 9 cm! Sorry – Anneli
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Anneli, Even at a more modest four inches in length, the male Dobsonfly startles many folks upon their first encounter, and even subsequent encounters trigger fear, but the male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  His impressive mandibles cannot harm a human.  They are used during the mating ritual.  Semi-aquatic laval Dobsonflies, known as Hellgrammites, are used as bait by many fishermen.

Letter 183 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  This bug made our Girl Scout jump! Geographic location of the bug:  Northern Virginia Date: 06/30/2018 Time: 09:07 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  We were on a hike and had to step up onto the path over this bug.  Most of the girls thought it was very cool but some not so much!  When we came through this same area two hours later, this bug was still hanging out.  We’ve had no luck with the identification and hope you can help. How you want your letter signed:  Bean
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Bean, Sorry but we can never respond to all the mail we get, but when folks send reminders, we try harder. This is a male Dobsonfly, and despite his formidable looking mandibles, he is incapable of biting a human.  He is perfectly harmless. Hi, No worries on the timing!  Thank you so much for the identification.  Do you have a recommendation for a good ID book?  We are working hard to instill in the campers to “Make Nature, Second Nature” so we appreciate your help! Best to you, Bean Eric Eaton who frequently contributes to our site is the author of The Kaufman Guide to Insects of North America.

Letter 184 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Unknown insect Geographic location of the bug:  Georgia Date: 08/06/2018 Time: 11:22 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  What is this insect?anon How you want your letter signed:  Anon
Male Dobsonfly
Despite his fierce looking mandibles, this magnificent male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.

Letter 185 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Creepy McCreeperson Geographic location of the bug:  Hudson Valley, NY Date: 06/20/2019 Time: 02:47 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Saw this guy outside of my office. He’s about 6 inches long and got pretty aggressive when we tried to move him out of the path. How you want your letter signed:  Kat
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Kat, This impressive guy is a male Dobsonfly, and though his immense mandibles look dangerous, they are quite useless when it comes to biting humans.  The female Dobsonfly has more utilitarian mouthparts, and though she has much less impressive looking mandibles, they are actually capable of giving a significant, though perfectly harmless pinch.

Letter 186 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Huge Scary Pincer Bug from CT Geographic location of the bug:  Northeast Connecticut USA Date: 07/04/2019 Time: 11:52 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  My gf screamed and pointed at this monstrosity on the side of a building. I’d never seen anything like it before but weird bugs tend to show up during the summer around here. We’re just left wondering what it is and (mainly for my girlfriend) is it gonna kill us? How you want your letter signed:  Brennan Hare
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Brennan, The male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.  Dobsonflies are among our most common summer identification requests.

Letter 187 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Large guy Geographic location of the bug:  Southern ontario Date: 07/24/2019 Time: 09:05 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  Found this on my way into work. No one has ever seen something like this before. Any ideas? How you want your letter signed:  Maggie
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Maggie, This fierce looking male Dobsonfly is actually perfectly harmless.  Dobsonflies are among our most common summer insect identification requests.

Letter 188 – Male Dobsonfly

 

Subject:  Large insect Geographic location of the bug:  South East Ontario, canada Date: 07/29/2019 Time: 08:05 PM EDT Your letter to the bugman:  This creature flew into my garage with very large wings, and a creepy looking head.  I have no idea what to class this insect as.  It looks vicious.  I hope the pictures help with identification. Thanks, How you want your letter signed:  Michael Steele
Male Dobsonfly
Dear Michael, Despite his large size and impressive mandibles, this male Dobsonfly is perfectly harmless.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

106 thoughts on “Dobsonfly – All You Need To Know”

  1. Merril,

    Fantastic photo!

    I believe what we’re seeing in this picture is the defensive posturing of the dobson fly. As a child I was witness to an actual dobson fly attack. A female dobson fly nipped my grandmother’s ankle and actually drew blood. My grandmother shrieked and kicked her ankle and sent the fly skittering across the kitchen floor. It landed in a corner and assumed this posture.

    If memory is corrrect, the body was arched, as in your photo, the jaws opened and closed in a menacing manner and the wings were flexing forward and back in a pulsating rythm. The whole display made an already large and intimidating bug appear downright ferocious.

    I haven’t seen a dobson fly since and was beginning to wonder if perhaps I had just imagined the whole display. Well here it is, captured forever in you photo.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Re: Male Dobsonfly post of 6/12/10; If “Owner of a Newly Found Dread” is an author, please provide the title of your works, what a delightful read! Why didn’t you get closer to it for the photo, so we could see it better 😀 lol

    Reply
  3. THANKS FOR THE GREAT PICTURE HELPING ME TO FINALLY REALIZE THAT THIS IS THE FEMALE! I SAVED ONE TWO WEEKS AGO FROM A SPIDER WEB AND SPENT A HALF HOUR ‘SURGICALLY’ REMOVING WEBBING FROM THREE OF HER LEGS AND MOUTH. THERE ARE ALSO TWO OTHER SETS OF MANDIBLES BEHIND HER TWO LARGE MAIN ONES! REWARDING EXPERIENCE — AT ONE POINT SHE FINALLY STOPPED PANICKING AND JUST LOOKED AT ME FOR A LONG MINUTE. REMOVED ALL BUT A TINY BIT IN HER LAST SET OF MANDIBLES; LEFT HER IN QUIET AREA TO ALLOW HER TO RECOVER. NEXT MORNING RELEASED HER AND GOT ONE PICTURE. WAS THRILLED TO SEE HER AGAIN TWO DAYS LATER AND SAW HER WINGS HAD GOTTEN DARKER AND SHE LOOKED GREAT!

    Reply
    • Dear kfbdiver,
      Thank you for such a wonderful chronicle of a thrilling insect rescue, though we fear a lucky spider was robbed of its prey, and we can imagine how large and fecund one of the Orbweavers might have become on that meal.

      Reply
  4. I am informing you and the site owner that this photo was taken in Pennsylvania in 2008 by Jo Ann Poe-McGavin. This is a direct violation of copyright law as is removing the copyright notice on the photo-I have the original EXIF data on this photo on file.

    I request that it be removed from this site.

    Jo Ann Poe-McGavin
    http://www.pawild.net

    Reply
    • Dear Jo Ann,
      We are very sorry if what you say is true. This is the information that is included on our submission form: “By submitting an identification request and/or photo(s), you give WhatsThatBug.com permission to use your words and image(s) on their website and other WhatsThatBug.com publications. Also, you swear that you either took the photo(s) yourself or have explicit permission from the photographer or copyright holder to use the image.” We do not steal images from other websites. We have no way of verifying that images are taken by the person who submits them, but we trust that there will not be any copyright infringement. We checked the original file and there is no copyright information imbedded in it. The file info indicates that it was created on 1/27/2011 at 9:18 PM. Are you certain that the image is your image and not a similar image? Do you know how the person who submitted the image could have gotten your copyrighted image? Do you have the image posted to your website? We would gladly include an editor’s note and a link to your site indicating that you are the author of the image if you will allow the posting to remain, otherwise we will delete it. Please advise.

      Reply
  5. Thank you very much for the reply. This constant change in Biology might sometimes be confusing, but it really instigates us to search for more information. Fascinanting!

    Reply
    • I watched Ernesto´s little brother curvstomp one of these at a Christian camp. Its head popped off but we kept it as a war trophy.

      Reply
  6. Rhonda Jackson, the group’s spokeswoman, bait fish says that fishermen are familiar with.
    Uploaded a new video from this years Early Catch and
    Release trout season in bait fish Upper Wisconsin. The Lowrance HDS-5 has developed a rising standing
    among deep sea and fresh water fishermen alike. The
    water, which was a hard fighting blue trout. In 1772, he caught
    upwards of 1 million shad and herring, according to Pete.

    Reply
  7. Rhonda Jackson, the group’s spokeswoman, bait fish says that fishermen are familiar with.
    Uploaded a new video from this years Early Catch and
    Release trout season in bait fish Upper Wisconsin. The Lowrance HDS-5 has developed a rising standing
    among deep sea and fresh water fishermen alike. The
    water, which was a hard fighting blue trout. In 1772, he caught
    upwards of 1 million shad and herring, according to Pete.

    Reply
  8. Thanks for posting this – great photo!

    I was raised in the country (upstate NY), and have never feared bugs.

    Yellow Jackets, yes. But all other bees, no. The Bumblebee is my favorite insect.
    Spiders, no (though I’ve come across 3-4 Black Widows over the years – lol – wasn’t scared, just very careful!).
    As such, any bug that comes near me, I will often try to get it to crawl on my arm, or at least set it on a stick to watch. Cicadas in particular are very amusing and beautiful creatures that don’t seem to be afraid of people. Dragonflies the same.

    So….one night a couple years back, I was on the porch, talking to a friend on the phone, when this giant insect came in and landed on the deck. It was dark, but I still decided to pick it up – not noticing the giant mandibles on this creature, still talking away with my friend. Then…..AHHHHHHHH! THAT $#!$er BIT ME!!!!! I immediately dropped it and squashed it with my shoe. Meanwhile, I had a deep, bleeding gash on the tip of my index finger.

    Wow, that was painful – imagine someone taking a pair of wire cutters and using them to cut a hole in your skin.

    Never could figure out what it was until today. Lesson for all: Do NOT handle female Dobsonflies – they WILL bite, and when they do, you WILL feel it, and you WILL bleed profusely.

    Cheers!
    Jerry
    Charlotte

    Reply
  9. Thanks for posting this – great photo!

    I was raised in the country (upstate NY), and have never feared bugs.

    Yellow Jackets, yes. But all other bees, no. The Bumblebee is my favorite insect.
    Spiders, no (though I’ve come across 3-4 Black Widows over the years – lol – wasn’t scared, just very careful!).
    As such, any bug that comes near me, I will often try to get it to crawl on my arm, or at least set it on a stick to watch. Cicadas in particular are very amusing and beautiful creatures that don’t seem to be afraid of people. Dragonflies the same.

    So….one night a couple years back, I was on the porch, talking to a friend on the phone, when this giant insect came in and landed on the deck. It was dark, but I still decided to pick it up – not noticing the giant mandibles on this creature, still talking away with my friend. Then…..AHHHHHHHH! THAT $#!$er BIT ME!!!!! I immediately dropped it and squashed it with my shoe. Meanwhile, I had a deep, bleeding gash on the tip of my index finger.

    Wow, that was painful – imagine someone taking a pair of wire cutters and using them to cut a hole in your skin.

    Never could figure out what it was until today. Lesson for all: Do NOT handle female Dobsonflies – they WILL bite, and when they do, you WILL feel it, and you WILL bleed profusely.

    Cheers!
    Jerry
    Charlotte

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Jerry. We have always suspected the bite of a female Dobsonfly might be very painful, and that of a Hellgrammite as well. Though the male Dobsonfly looks quite fearsome, he is perfectly harmless.

      Reply
  10. Thanks for the useful information. I’ve just moved to the east coast of U.S and have never seen one of these… Oddly enough, I have seen many a Hellgrammite but never knew they were the same thing… to be honest, I was never aware that the Hellgrammites was the early form of anything.

    Reply
  11. I was bit by a female on my back, holy crap!! It was so painful after about 15 mins I was achy in my back and neck and got so sick. Didn’t last long but the bite was painful to the touch for days!!!

    Reply
  12. I found one on my porch last night, in Texas. It is still kind of just hanging out today on the planter. Scared the dog water out of me though last night!!

    Reply
  13. Female Dobsonflies have short, powerful pincers. That’s probably what you’re seeing when think it’s an “earlier” stage of growth. Males have long pincer-type appendages, but they are purely for show. Females can deliver a powerful pinch, so it’s best not to handle them. They won’t hurt your kids, but I’d encourage you to educate your kids, and teach them to observe the Dobsonflies, but to leave them as they are. Their size is impressive, and a bit intimidating, but they’ll find a mate and die soon.

    Reply
  14. I live in Texas and I didn’t even know these existed until One landed on me tonight on my shirt. I started freaking out trying to get it off of me and it states stuck and it had to take my husband to wack it off for it to leave. scariest moment of my life!!!

    Reply
    • We understand they give off a foul odor as well. Though frightening, male Dobsonflies are perfectly harmless, though one might accidentally fly into a person’s eye, in which case those sabre mandibles might do some serious damage. Larval Hellgrammites and adult female Dobsonflies both have much more practical mandibles, for defense in her case and capturing prey in the larva’s case, and an encounter with a thin skinned person might result in the loss of some blood.

      Reply
  15. Adult dobsonflies are some of the largest non- Lepidopteran insects of temperate zones such as the United States and Canada , with a wingspan of up to 180 mm in some species of Male adults are easily recognized by their long, curving mandibles , reaching up to 40 mm in length, which they use in competition for females.

    Reply
  16. I’m in east Texas and found one in my front porch this afternoon HOLEEE COW!! Have never seen a big that big in my life. Now I have to use the back door…or sell the house.

    Reply
  17. Just found one on my window at home earlier. When I first had saw it. I was like wat the heck. I had never seen anything like it ever. And everyone I ask here about it in Cuero Texas knows nothing about them as well. Had never seen one.

    Reply
  18. We found two in Wharton Texas!!? Never seen anything so large for a bug in my life!! What the heck, I looked up this bug, can’t believe this can fly and the Pinchers on this makes me not what to go outside with out a net over me! It said this is not harmful, but I can tell you if this thing flew on me I’d have a heart attack!!

    Reply
  19. We saw one of these recently in Georgetown, TX. Like the 2011 post from Gary Manis, we had never seen one of these dobsonflies before.

    I’m a bit disturbed by the image where some one put a screw into one. None-the-less, I’m thankful there’s this site to help identify critters properly.

    Reply
  20. We saw one of these recently in Georgetown, TX. Like the 2011 post from Gary Manis, we had never seen one of these dobsonflies before.

    I’m a bit disturbed by the image where some one put a screw into one. None-the-less, I’m thankful there’s this site to help identify critters properly.

    Reply
  21. Oh my sweet tea.. found one tonight in Tennessee.. those things are huge. I thought it was a dragon fly till I took his picture and caught those pincers in the flash.. we are not going to be besties for sure!! .. never seen one in Texas tho

    Reply
  22. I was vacationing in Bat Cave , North Carolina and moved a chair and there was a bug I had never seen before! Now I know it was a Dobsonfly! Thanks for the great pictures.

    Reply
  23. Just found one in PA… its huge and alien looking. Um pretty sure I am never going outside again or selling the house.

    Reply
  24. Found one in North Carolina 7/3/2017 I’m from Florida and i just had to catch this thing when i saw it flying in the light it looked massive!

    Reply
  25. I have seen female dobsonflies in two consecutive years in Ocean Falls on British Columbias central coast (Great Bear Rainforest). 2001 + 2002. These were either straying a helluva long distance or there may be a previously unknown population located somewhere there. I have never seen them anywhere in BC before or since.
    I am a naturalist with 35 years experience so I am sure of the identification.

    Reply
    • Since we have no official entomological qualifications, we do not want to challenge your observations. Dobsonflies in the genus Corydalus are not reported from British Columbia according to BugGuide data, however, the family which includes similar looking Fishflies does range in British Columbia, according to BugGuide data. Please scan the images posted to BugGuide to see if you might have encountered one of the similar looking Fishflies.

      Reply
  26. I have seen female dobsonflies in two consecutive years in Ocean Falls on British Columbias central coast (Great Bear Rainforest). 2001 + 2002. These were either straying a helluva long distance or there may be a previously unknown population located somewhere there. I have never seen them anywhere in BC before or since.
    I am a naturalist with 35 years experience so I am sure of the identification.

    Reply
  27. I just found a male Dobsonfly in the cats water dish inside the catio. Don’t know how he got in, but is the biggest flying bug I have ever seen. Eau Claire, WI.

    Reply
  28. i saw this bug up in Elba Alabama and had no idea what this was and it was blowing my mind ive been looking for days and coming across this website made me so happy to finally figure it out. its so weird looking but really cool.

    Reply
  29. We just found a huge male walking across our porch in SW Ohio. It scared me to death! My husband was fascinated though.

    Reply
  30. Just saw one today at QT. Biggest bug I’ve ever seen. Stopped me in my tracks. I videotaped it and that’s when i zoomed in and saw those pinchers. Yikes! Creepy bug.

    Reply
  31. Just had one land on my screen porch. Female. Told my husband not to touch it- of course he goes right to touch it. She is fine. Hanging on screen still in lower position.

    Reply
  32. I have one on my porch screen. She is just hanging out attracted to the automatic light. I can see her whole body through the screen. James Taylor is playing up the road so maybe she is listening. Berkshires, Ma.

    Reply
  33. Moi je suis au Québec et j’ai eu cet insecte sur mon balcon. Je vis au 3e étage et loin des cours d’eau.

    Reply
  34. Found one on front porch door frame. After a valiant battle I destroyed the sucker. Wife still creeped out but I am feeling like “special forces” right now

    Reply
  35. I noticed that this insect is typically fond in Maryland ,however i live in Northeast Georgia at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain Chain.I just caught this huge beast flying in my garage.What is this strange criter doing in my neck of the woods and should i exspect more .
    Thankx

    Reply
  36. I noticed that this insect is typically fond in Maryland ,however i live in Northeast Georgia at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain Chain.I just caught this huge beast flying in my garage.What is this strange criter doing in my neck of the woods and should i exspect more .
    Thankx

    Reply
  37. Just found one hanging outside my window on screen in Baltimore, MD. I just hit the inside of the screen to get him off, didn’t want this big bug inside my home. Really creepy looking.

    Reply
  38. I killed an insect I believe was a female Dobsonfly, but its coloring was black and yellow. Could it still be a Dobsonfly? I have pictures if interested. It had four wings and a glide-like component under the wings, but that part is not viewable in the pictures.

    Reply
  39. Susan, I rescued a female Dobson fly this weekend from being crushed on the trail and just found out what it is…glad you saved the one you did 10 years ago!! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  40. I’m so sad! I had a female Dobsonfly outside my door all day today. I pointed it out to my neighbor who said “oh, this is a bad bug!” And proceeded to grab it and step on it! I didn’t know what it was until I researched. I had never seen one before. Now I’m so upset!!! I plan on telling him to never kill living things

    Reply

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