A source for information on flies
Crane Fly Family
Adult crane flies are black, red or yellow in color.
Although some of their external characteristics resemble those of wasps, their polished bodies help to distinguish
them. Crane flies may also be mistaken at times for mosquitoes, but they exhibit a v-shaped suture at the thorax
that is not present on the body of the mosquito. Crane flies also have no ocelli.
Depending on the exact species, most crane flies
measure between three and 60 millimeters in length, while tropical species are capable of growing up to 100
millimeters long. Crane fly wings may be transparent, brown, grayish black or brownish yellow. Some crane flies
rest with extended wings, while others fold their wings flat. The mouths of adult crane flies are located at the
end of their elongated faces, also known as snouts or short rostrums.
Males have three-branched segments of antennae, while
females have either serrated or branched antennae. Female crane flies have extended abdomens, which house eggs and
are capped with an ovipositor. Although these ovipositors appear similar to stingers, they are harmless and are
only used for reproductive purposes.
Crane flies lay their eggs in the ground, where
larvae feed on decaying wood and vegetation. Their feeding behaviors may damage plant roots. Adult crane flies
prefer to dwell in wet, mossy, old and open woodlands. They primarily consume nectar, although they sometimes feed
on other plant fluids. Crane flies survive for several days, with most species living only long enough to complete
the reproductive cycle.
Common names for crane flies
include jimmy spinners, mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters, mosquito nippers, gollywhoppers and gallinippers. Although
they are known as daddy long legs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand,
they are not at all similar to the arachnid that goes by the same name in the United
Large flies up to 1-inch long; very long, thin legs
Crane flies do not invade buildings but are commonly seen around buildings at night where they are attracted
by lights. These flies resemble giant mosquitoes but are not a concern because they do not have biting
mouthparts. Occasionally, one or two crane flies will fly into an open door and be seen inside.
The larvae of crane flies breed in wet soil and aquatic environments. Large populations may be seen near
buildings in lawns or fields where considerable rainfall has accumulated for a period of
No control is necessary for this fly. If seen indoors, the occasional crane fly can be killed or
captured and released outside. To attract fewer of these insects to a building, exterior lights should be
switched to yellow “bug lite” bulbs or to low pressure sodium vapor bulbs.