Sep 17, 2009

Crane Fly Myth Dispelled

You're looking at a close up of a crane fly, though you may know it as a mosquito eater or a mosquito hawk. The fear center of my brain knows them as flying spiders.

I'm here to dispel a myth, a myth that I have believed up until about five minutes ago (I'm an office monkey, not a biologist, so cut me some slack). These insects do not eat mosquitoes. Think about it, have you ever seen one eat a mosquito? Have you ever seen one eat anything? You haven't, because once they've assumed their crane fly adult form, they don't eat. They exist only to mate and die. As grubs they feed on decaying plant matter, but as adults, they are utterly harmless. They have no venom and no mandibles that'll cause you any distress. They'll just fly in your face and trigger a mad flap of your hands

But what are those orange globes on the crane fly's back?
Those are mites. Lovely parasites. It's probably hard to find a good mate when you've got all those third wheels along for the ride.

Thanks for the amazing photo, Steve.


jynxkat said...

that looks very itchy

Anonymous said...

Actually, they're little squeeze bottles of Orange Crush. Flying around looking for a mate is thirsty work, dontcha' know?

Island Bookworm said...

I'd really like to know why they always seem to fly right at my head. Do my eyes radiate some wavelength that I'm not aware of?

angela said...

ride, ride, ride, hitchin' a ride

(my verif. word was BONED)

Keera Ann Fox said...

So that's what they're called in English. They always manage to bumble into my bedroom in the summertime and can never seem to bumble back out. And do what Sylvia says.

But I am now weirded out by the idea that every time I find a dead crane fly in my home, there are also a half dozen mites lurking around, too. Ewww!

mfb said...

Fascinating photo - those mites are huge relative to the fly!

Anonymous said...

If we had a higher resolution photo, we would see that the mites have mites, too.

Hate, hate, hate crane flies, though i suspect my hatred is based on the fact that they look like flying Daddy Long Legs.