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.
Some folks call them "mosquito hawks" or "skeeter eaters" or "blood suckers."
They're not. None of the above. Crane flies, in the family Tipulidae, don't prey on mosquitoes and they don't suck blood.
These slender, long-legged insects remind us of runway models. Thin. Demure. Fragile.
Any similarity, though, ends when you see them fly. They fly rather clumsily, wobbly even.
You've probably seen them around your home, garden or business office. If you do, they're easy to photograph!
The crane fly is as long-legged and slender as a runway model, but as gangly as a teenager.
The insect, from the family Tipulidae, is sometimes called daddy long-legs (not!) or a skeeter eater (not!).
They don't eat mosquitoes and they don't bite. The adults sip nectar. Sometimes when you head out to the garden in the early morning, you'll find them resting on a plant--probably been there all night.
This one (below) was clutching salvia and waiting for a little warmth from the morning sun.
It looks like a giant mosquito.
But it isn't.
It's a crane fly (family Tipulidae), also known as a "mosquito hawk."
It's a slender, long-legged insect that cats like to target. Our cat, Xena the Warrior Princess, loves to bat them out of the air--and then look around for more.
Most crane flies "feed on decaying organic matter, but some are predaceous or feed on living plants such as mosses," according to entomologists Jerry Powell and Charles Hogue in their guidebook, California Insects.
Don't worry. This gangly mosquito-like insect won't feed on you. You're safe.
He didn't bring her flowers.
They were already sharing a sunflower leaf.
He didn't bring her candy.
They'd already dined on nectar.
It was Labor Day and the two crane flies looked quite friendly in our bee friendly garden.
More than friendly.
I think they were in love.
Crane flies, also known as mosquito hawks, look like Texas-sized mosquitoes. "Big 'uns," as my Texas-born grandmother used to say. But these insects won't bite you or suck your blood. They're long-legged, two-winged insects with such slender abs that their "to do" list probably includes daily workouts at the gym. They're members of the family Tipulidae (suborder Nematocera, order Diptera).
Despite their name, mosquito hawks don't eat skeeters. They just look like they might.
They're basically quite harmless. The larvae feed on plant roots, sometimes causing problems in nurseries. The adults are a hot menu item ("the daily special") for birds, fish and other animals. Bring 'em on!
What's good about the mosquito hawk are its nicknames: gallinipper, jimmy spinner, skeeter eater, skeeter lion, leatherjackets (referring to the tough brown skin of the larvae), daddy long-legs (in Canada and Ireland), doizabizzler and gollywhopper.
Gollywhopper? You can't say that without smiling.
You just can't.