Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crane Flies, Crane Flies, Everywhere!

Has anyone else noticed tons of crane flies stuck to their window screens and sides of the house lately? In the past few weeks, crane flies have been quietly and patiently waiting by my porch lights for the door to open so they can escape indoors and irritate my dogs and husband.
(Photo by Bart Drees)

Crane flies are commonly (and incorrectly) called a number of different things such as: mayflies, mosquitoes, and mosquito hawks. Crane flies are in the same order as mosquitoes (they are both considered a type of fly), and they may look like giant sized mosquitoes, but they are far from it. I grew up mistakenly calling crane flies mayflies, but these are also very different insects.

Crane flies do not suck blood, do not bite, and generally don't do much except irritate you when they fly around your lights in the house. As larvae, they feed on decaying organic matter and are most common in very moist habitats. Well... we've had a lot of rain this winter, which has probably allowed them to proliferate so well. The adults don't feed on anything - they don't even have working mouthparts! The warmer and sunnier days with warmer evenings has allowed them to move around much better than they would if it was cooler.

Crane fly adults are attracted to lights, and as long as the soil is somewhat moist, we should see the around through the spring and maybe even into the winter. If they get indoors, gently catch them and release them outside - they are very delicate, though, so don't be surprised if a leg falls off. No need to spray anything, these are not damaging insects in our landscape!