- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Some folks call them "bugsy" or "mosquito hawks" or "skeeter eaters" "flying daddy longlegs."
They may look like Texas-sized mosquitoes but they're not mosquitoes. Neither do they eat mosquitoes. They're crane flies in the order Diptera, family Tipulidae. And they're found worldwide.
Slender and long-legged, they fly awkwardly, easy prey for even slow-moving birds. These insects wobble around as if on crooked stilts as they land on your lawn, door, or window. Sometimes you'll see them sipping nectar, but most of the time, they don't feed. Often you'll see crane flies with missing legs (they're fragile and break off easily).
The adults are harmless, though. (Their larvae, called leatherjackets, commonly feed on turfgrass roots.)
We spotted a brown crane fly on our back porch last weekend. It allowed us a couple of photos before it took off for parts unknown, but fortunately keeping all its parts intact.
Entomologists are fascinated by its rostrum (snout) and its beak-like nasus. (That could lead to another nickname, "Snout fly.")
The adults live only 10 to 15 days, according to Wikipedia.
That's time enough to find a mate--or become food for a hungry bird.