Monday, October 6, 2008

Giant Skeeters... Actually Crane Flies

Lots of calls are coming into the Bucks County Extension office about giant mosquitoes. Turns out, what everyone is looking at are Crane Flies. It’s easy to see how they might be confused. These bugs are long-legged and slender-bodied… like the biting bug that everyone is worried about. Crane flies don’t bite. And they are a lot bigger than most mosquitoes. Right now they are sipping a bit of nectar from fall flowers and mating.. a nice life, but a short one. They live about 10-15 days before laying eggs. Their larvae feed on decaying organic matter, improving habitat for other creatures and getting gobbled up by frogs, fish and other predators. So it turns out that crane flies are good guys.

If you get poking around on-line you may learn that there are a couple of crane fly species (out of about 1500 in North America) that damage lawns. This is mostly confined to the Pacific Northwest. I did see an unusual case of crane fly larvae damage to a lawn a few years ago but that lawn was already severely damaged by other pests. The crane flies were mostly on clean up duty, decomposing the dead turf.
So don’t sweat the long legged, mosquito imposters, even if you see dozens or hundreds on the side of the house on a cool fall evening.

Believe it or not, I found a website called Crane Flies of Pennsylvania on-line and if you need to read more, check it out. I leaned that there are at least 300 species in Pennsylvania and about 10 in Bucks County. Looks like Philadelphia county wins the prize with more than 100 species accounted for.


terri sommella said...

There are gargantuan flies that come into my garage in Adam's County this time of year. They are a good inch long and about 1/2" wide. Aside from the gross out factor, I'm curios as to what they are. Do you know?

Scott Guiser said...

not sure, try catching a few and submit to your local extension office: