The crane fly is one of the most misunderstood flying insects. It’s probably safe to say that if you’ve spotted one of these skinny, long-legged flying bugs in your house, your reaction may have been to either run and hide (we aren’t judging!), or give them a whack thinking they’re giant mosquitos.
But while the crane fly looks scary and is often confused with mosquitos or daddy long legs, they’re super friendly bugs that are beneficial to the planet. Here’s why.
Crane Fly 101
Adult crane flies don’t munch on mosquitos (or us) at all, despite their “mosquito hawk” nickname. According to Joe Boggs, an entomologist and assistant professor at Ohio State University, “they don’t possess mosquito-like, piercing-sucking mouthparts, so they don’t bite.” Their only food source is flower nectar and dew from the surfaces of plants and fruits.
This is great for the planet, as eating the flower nectar helps the plants pollinate. Pollination is critical because it leads to the production of all of the delicious fruit we love to eat, as well as seeds that allow us to continue to grow even more. At the larvae stage, crane flies can also feed on decaying organic material, which aids in the decomposition process.
So while crane flies may resemble giant mosquitos that will most definitely scare you at first glance, put the fly swatter away. Texas A&M University says they’re one of the gentlest insects. An insect that’s clumsy, a little awkward, and just wanting to live its best life—one that only lasts 10 to 15 days.
If you see a crane fly, educate your friends and family that there’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact… dare we say they’re actually kind of cute?
Other Surprising Pollinators
Crane flies aren’t the only surprising insects that are great pollinators. Did you know beetles, flies, and wasps are pollinators, too? As scary or icky as some of these insects seem, the truth is we can’t live without them! According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than 150 food crops in the United States depend on pollinators, including almost all fruit and grain crops.
The next time you have an insect encounter, keep in mind that we’re sharing this space with all of these amazing creatures who are here to protect and populate the planet. It’s important that we protect them, too.
Want to learn more about the crane fly? Watch the video below:
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