Huge mosquitoes or crane flies?

It's most likely a crane fly and not a mosquito

By: Sandy Feather 2010
Penn State Extension

Q. I just started seeing these HUGE mosquitoes. I don't recall seeing them before. Are these the new mosquitoes I've seen on the news?

A. It is hard to say for sure without a sample or a picture, but the new mosquito in town, the Asian tiger mosquito, is not huge. Given the time of year you started seeing them, they are probably crane flies. "Huge mosquito" is a perfect description of their appearance. Crane flies range in size from three-sixteenths of an inch to about 1-inch. They have long, fragile legs that break off easily and slender, delicate bodies. Their large, clear wings reveal an intricate network of veins, and many species have patterns of color on their wings that entomologists use for identification.

The first time I saw one, I figured I'd need a blood transfusion if it bit me! Fortunately, crane flies do not bite or sting human beings. Adults feed on the nectar of flowers or not at all.

About Crane Flies

Crane flies belong to the family Tipulidae, the largest family of true flies. According to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, there are more than 1,500 species of crane flies in North America, 300 of which are found in Pennsylvania. They typically show up in damp, vegetated areas. Depending on the species, larvae are aquatic or semi-aquatic. Some feed on decaying organic matter, some on live plants, and others are predaceous and feed on other insects (including mosquito larvae). The larvae are sometimes called "leatherjackets" due to the leathery appearance of their skin.


Crane Fly feeding habits

Those species that feed on live plants can damage lawns, pastures, golf courses and cereal grasses.

A couple species of European crane flies have become established in parts of the United States. When populations of their larvae reach a threshold of 20-25 per square foot, control measures are warranted to avoid severe damage to susceptible crops. But the overwhelming majority are beneficial in that their larvae break down organic matter and provide food for birds, fish, amphibians and other insects.

Adults cause no harm -- unless you count scaring people -- and do not require control. The adults do not live very long and will soon be gone.


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