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

3 thoughts on “Male Dobsonfly”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.


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