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