hitchhiker on a crane fly
Tue, Apr 21, 2009 at 11:10 AM
I was taking pictures of the moths and bugs surrounding our outside light last night and after enlarging this shot of a crane fly I noticed this little white guy waving from a rear leg while hanging on for dear life. I know crane flies don’t carry their young around so I was wondering what it is. I sent you a larger file so you can enlarge it enough to see the critter.
Sonoma County, California

Crane Fly with Hitchhiker

Crane Fly with Hitchhiker

Hi Larry,
When we saw your subject line, we thought the hitchhiker must be either a mite or a pseudoscorpion, the two common phoretic organisms that are frequent subjects of our identifications. Phoresy is a nice scientific name for opportunistic hitchhiking. Your creature appears to be an insect, though we are uncertain of its identity, and we wonder if the hitchhiking may have been accidental. We will check with Eric Eaton to see if he has an opinion on this.

Phoretic Insect? or Accidental Hitchhiker???

Update: Wednesday, 22 April 2009
LOL!  I’m sorry, I just had to laugh.  The “hitchhiker” is a shed exoskeleton, most likely from an aphid that might have used the crane fly’s leg as a place to perch while molting.  I laugh out of empathy because I’ve made the same kind of assumption myself, many times, when presented with unfamiliar circumstances.

Location: California

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