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Dobsonflies are one of the largest groups of insects in terms of body size. The dobsonflies in the United States grow in excess of 5 inches in body length. Most dobsonfly species have been documented in South America, but three species inhabit various regions in the US. In the northeast, the aptly named eastern dobsonfly species is abundant, and they can often be seen flying around porch lights. Due to their enormous size, dobsonflies can become quite a nuisance when they take a liking to porch lights. In addition to being a nuisance, dobsonflies also possess sizable and sharp mandibles that can deliver extremely painful bites.

Dobsonfly larvae have larger mandibles than male adults, but they are not encountered often. Adult dobsonfly females, on the other hand, are encountered often, and their mandibles are just as large as those of larvae. Male dobsonflies possess relatively small mandibles and they are not capable of delivering a bite to human skin, but female bites usually draw blood. While dobsonfly larvae are not encountered in urban settings, they are encountered frequently in ponds and streams where they serve as the fiercest predators in the setting. Fisherman sometimes use larvae as live bait, and as you can imagine, bites are not infrequent in this situation. Despite the intense pain caused by their bite, the larvae continue to be a popular bait item. Female dobsonflies rarely bite humans, but if the flies become agitated, they will not hesitate to bite.

Dobsonflies are abundant in areas of natural water, and homes located near ponds, creeks or other small water bodies are likely to experience nuisance dobsonfly swarms around their porch lights. Dobson flies can be recognized for their large size and massive wings that are even larger than their body. Their net-veined wings feature black dots and they overlap at rest.

Have you ever sustained a dobsonfly bite?