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Nature & You: These hawks have no feathers

A dragonfly — or mosquito hawk — rests on a blade of grass at Lake Hefner. [OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES PHOTO]

A dragonfly — or mosquito hawk — rests on a blade of grass at Lake Hefner. [OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES PHOTO]

These hawks have no feathers

Avert your eyes! This hawk is naked. At the very least, it is not clothed in feathers.

Then again, it is not actually a bird. Ditto on the situation whereby it is not a mosquito, either. Which begs the question: What, exactly, is a mosquito hawk?

I am directing your attention toward those large species of dragonflies. (Not to bedevil the issue, but these creatures are not fire-breathing lizards, despite the confusion that is brought on by this alternate name.)

The mosquito hawk name suits these insects perfectly; they catch, kill and consume huge quantities of those pesky bloodsucking insect pests. Mosquito hawks gather in large numbers at summer's end, and their aerial patrols do a very effective job of snaring any mosquitoes that might be so foolish as to be out and about. Best of all, this insect-control method costs you nothing.

Whereas the concept of migration is something that we most commonly associate with birds such as ducks and geese, these large dragonflies eventually sidle on toward Mexico at autumn's approach — which gives us no cause for concern because the return of bone-chilling temperatures puts the old kibosh on mosquito populations, anyway.

Mosquito hawks are a welcome denizen of Ma Nature's menagerie.

— Neil Garrison, NewsOK Contributor

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›

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