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The crane fly (tipula paludosa) is a large insect belonging to the Tipulidae family (which contains many families of parasitic insects) and order Diptera. They go by many different names, such as the shovel fly, mosquito hawks, and more commonly in the UK daddy longlegs.

These flies are generally harmless to humans, although they can become a nuisance if they come into homes in large numbers. They can be told apart from other insects by their long legs that resemble crane’s legs and “helmet” shaped heads.

Crane Fly Identification

A closeup of a crane fly

Most craneflies typically have slender green bodies with brown wings that often have a yellowish tint near the tips. They also have antennae made from six segments that can be held erect above their heads when not in use.

It has an overall body length ranging from 4-6 cm and a wingspan up to 25 cm. The antennae have eleven segments and are about 5 mm long; they are located on the rear of each hind wing. They have large eyes with three ocelli in front and two compound eyes when folded back in their normal position.

Do Daddy Long Legs Fly?

Close-up of a crane, fly a.k.a daddy long legs
Close-up of a crane, fly a.k.a daddy long legs

Yes, these long-legged flies do fly. They are strong fliers and can usually be seen in swarms or groups during the evening. They have been known to fly for up to two miles at a time.

Crane Fly Habitat

These insects typically inhabit warm, moist areas, including wild, marshy places, ponds, gardens or other foliage and damp locations. They can be found in forested areas near rivers with large amounts of decomposing plant matter. This is because females are often attracted to this type of environment where they will mate and lay their eggs.

The crane fly species are attracted to both artificial and natural sources of light. They are frequently seen flying around windows at night that glow from streetlights or other artificial light sources.

What Do Crane Flies Eat?

Adult crane flies feed on other insects and can be seen hovering around dying or injured animals in order to drink its bodily fluids. They feed on live insects and animal flesh by sucking out body fluids and tissues as they become liquefied. They have been known to chew through dried carrion, through the stomach or intestine and out the mouth of a dead animal or bird carcass.

These bugs also feed on nectar or other plant material but will sometimes go after small insects found among plant foliage.

Where Do Crane Flies Breed?

Crane fly breeding ground

Craneflies generally breed in ponds, marshes, rivers, lakes, and slow-moving streams. The female crane fly forms a large ball of mud near the water as a place to lay her eggs which then stick to her abdomen. She then releases a mass of eggs into the water that hatch about three days later, though this process can take as long as 10 days, depending on the weather conditions.

Once hatched, grey nymphs will stay in the water until they are ready to emerge into adulthood and crawl out onto land, where they will dry themselves off and begin jumping around looking for food.

Do Crane Flies Bite Humans?

No, the crane fly species have not been known to bite or suck blood from humans. Although adult crane flies do not bite, they may have built up a reputation due to their likeness to their closely related cousin, the giant mosquito. You don’t need to worry about bites from these harmless “daddy longlegs.”

Are Crane Flies Bad For Your Lawn?

Crane fly larvae

Crane fly larvae feed on urban lawns, and as such are invasive garden pests that can damage your grass, crops and plants. They often eat plant roots, causing the grass to turn an orange colour and fail to grow. They also lay eggs in the grass, causing large purplish grubs, which (in turn) attack and destroy lawns. Insecticides are only effective against the eggs and larvae.

How To Get Rid Of Crane Flies?

Crane fly larvae can be difficult to get rid of, especially if you are not sure what type of crane fly you are dealing with. While there are several ways to eliminate these pests, the best way to get rid of crane flies is by removing any sources of standing water near your home, garden, or workplace. This will prevent them from laying eggs (especially on your lawn) and invading your property in the future.

Sources and References

  1. What Are Crane Flies: Information On Crane Flies And Lawn Damage – gardeningknowhow.com
  2. Lifespan And Lifecycle Of A Crane Fly – insectcop.net

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