You know those big mosquito-like things that have been buzzing around your yard and sticking to your windows, screens, and doors? They are often called giant mosquitoes, mosquito hawks, or mosquito eaters. They are in fact Crane Flies. With all the rain we have had this year in Southern California and now that the temperature is rising these flies are everywhere!
Crane Flies are members of the tipulidae family of insects, and can be easily recognized by their long, gangly legs and sloppy flight pattern. They almost look like flying daddy-long legs, and are actually called by that name in some parts of the country. Crane Flies are 2-4 inches across when mature while Mosquitos are generally 1/4 inch at the adult stage.
The life cycle of the Crane Fly is one of the least studied of all the members of the order Insecta. Females lay their eggs in the fall, and the larva, known as leather jackets, grow during the cold winter months. In spring or summer, when it is warm and humid, (conditions similar to what we have experienced the past few weeks) Crane Flies emerge from the ground to breed.
Unlike their common name would suggest, Crane flies do not eat mosquitoes, but actually feed off nectar. As a point of fact, many adult Crane Flies do not even have mouthparts and live only long enough to reproduce before dying. And while females have a compositor that is stinger-like in appearance, crane flies are harmless.
So what can you do about them? Unfortunately not a lot. If you are seeing 0-20 per week around your home that is normal. If you are seeing 20+ per week then you might want to consider having your grass areas and exterior doorways around porch lights treated with a residual insecticide or changing your exterior light bulbs. Like many flying insects, Crane flies are attracted to light. At night they will be drawn towards porch lights and interior lights when doors or windows are left open. If your exterior lights are very white and bright they are more attractive to flying insects. Sodium Vapor lights or lights with a yellowish color are less attractive to crane flies and other flying insects. If you have questions about Crane Flies text us 562-925-8308.