Saturday, February 2, 2013

Household Bugs -- Is This a Giant Mosquito?

"Whoa -- Look at that Giant Mosquito!"

My wife swatted at the thing trying hopelessly to get outside through the glass of the kitchen window. It  did look like a giant mosquito, with long trailing legs, a slender body, and small clear wings beating furiously. But no mosquitoes are this big -- it was at least an inch long, bigger than a wasp.

"Wait" -- I said. "That's a crane fly, and all it wants is to get outside." I corralled the crane fly with my hands, knowing that it couldn't sting or bite me, and carried it outside, where it immediately flew away.

"A crane fly," said my wife. "Well, it looked like giant mosquito."
She wasn't the first person to be fooled by a species of Brachypremna dispellens and its relatives. These large flies -- which are classified in the same scientific order, Diptera, as house flies -- are often found inside houses. They are not among the many insects that actually live in houses, but instead wander inside though open windows, drawn by lights or shelter. Unfortunately for the crave fly, they look a lot like giant mosquitoes, and are often swatted into oblivion by people like my wife.

Crane flies and their relatives feed on nectar, and some don't even eat at all as adults. Their larvae do most of the eating, before they pupate and hatch out as the adult fly. The larvae are sometimes called "leatherback slugs" and if there's a population outbreak they can damage lawns by feeding underground on roots. 

Crane file are known as "daddy longlegs" in Europe, which might get a little confusing, since in the US there's already a bug known as the daddy longlegs, an arachnid with no wings.

So give those giant mosquitoes a break! They're only trying to get back outside where they came from, and they can't bite or sting. Save your energy for swatting real mosquitoes.

More Questions about Household Bugs? Click here for a ton of photos and information!

all images courtesy of wikimedia commons

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