The Mosquito Hawk or Crane Fly - 156/365
The Mosquito Hawk is also known as The Crane Fly. Despite the legend, these gentle giants do not eat mosquitos, nor do they feed on humans or animals as their disturbingly designed mouth parts are incapable of it. They can neither bite nor sting. Adult crane flies don’t eat much of anything but their larvae devour decaying wood, vegetation, shoots and roots below ground.
Crane flies love light and hover near porch lights. These goofy, clumsy, fragile bugs dance and fly around leaving body parts behind when they try to maneuver through tight spots often in our homes. The male (as seen in this photo) has a rounded abdomen while the female has an extended abdomen for carrying eggs. The male’s flight pattern is wonky, seeming to fly around in spirals, while the female’s is controlled and straight.
Remember when I caught these two in the above photo doing it in the woods? I cropped the photo in that post to keep the partner's identity private. But since this is an educational post, here it is again, with both caught in the act. That's the male on the left (with the big round body) and the female on the right with the elongated body.
Crane flies lives are tragically short, lasting 2-15 days after hatching. That’s long enough to mate! After mating, the male wanders off to die (let’s hope it was fantastic) and the female shoots out her eggs into the moist soil or water. She dies too, exhausted after egg birth. Let's hope these two in the shot above had a fantastic time as I'm sure they didn't live too long afterwards.
Obviously, crane flies have inspired many of Hollywood's biggest alien movies. Check out that mouth on him! Is it disturbing or what?
But their real raison d’être? For one, the larvae decompose organic litter at the bottom of streams on forest floors, helping to enrich the soil and enhance the habitats of other creatures. But sadly, they’re also meals for birds, reptiles, other insects and fish.
And that's why we practice catch and release of the Crane Fly in our home.