What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

wasp?
Location: Kissimmee Florida
February 3, 2012 3:11 pm
curious about this insect. It almost looks like a stump stabber wasp that I saw on you site, but this insect packs quite a sting. I decided not to include the picture of my swollen hand. Any info you could provide would be great. Location: Kissimmee, florida, total length of body is approx.: 1 inch. Two spotted in my apartment January 2012
Signature: Jason

Crane Fly

Dear Jason,
Your swollen hand must be a result of some other trauma.  This Crane Fly is a perfectly harmless creature that does not sting nor bite.  Perhaps No-See-Ums which are small biting gnats are getting into your apartment.  See BugGuide for a photo of No-See-Ums.

No, the sting was definitely from this insect. I was able to pick it up with tweezers and it was attempting to sting the tweezers. It felt like a bee sting.

What’s That Bug Requests a professional opinion from Dr. Chen Young at Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Hi Daniel,
Here is the link and in the Introduction there is statement in the first paragraph that indicates crane flies are harmless. “They are often mistaken for mosquitoes, but they belong to a group of harmless flies.”
http://iz.carnegiemnh.org/cranefly/introduction.htm#Introduction
Chen

Daniel,
Just in case the person wants to know, this is a female crane fly in the genus Nephrotoma
http://iz.carnegiemnh.org/cranefly/tipulinae.htm#Nephrotoma
Chen

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Florida

100 Responses to Crane Fly falsly accused of nasty sting

  1. dave s says:

    I picked up a crane fly to put out the window a few years ago, exactly like the one in the picture. I’m convinced it stung me but it didn’t swell up.

    • bugman says:

      Perhaps you were stung by a similar looking insect since are of the opinion that it could not have been a Crane Fly that stung or bit you. Some Ichneumons resemble Crane Flies and some species are known to sting. See this information on Ichneumons in the subfamily Ophioninae from BugGuide.

  2. melissa hudson says:

    Me and my husband live in the mid-south, this evening the weather felt so great that we had the doors open for a bit . He then noticed the crane fly in our kitchen, being pagans we didn’t want to kill it so my husband caught it by the wing and went to throw it outside. It curled its tail and stung him on the hand. The little stinger didn’t leave a mark,,,,,,,,BUT THEY DO STING !!

    • dan kane says:

      Agree with “bugman”, it sounds like a variety of ichneumon wasp that can be mistaken for a harmless crane fly. They can look very similar, but usually with somewhat shorter legs. These wasps have a barb on their tail which they use for boring when egg laying. Insofar as I recall, the barb is non-venomous, but can be quite painful when the insect uses it in defense.

      • bugman says:

        Good Call. Sounds like a very credible explanation.

      • L. Yarma says:

        After some quick research (I’m no expert), I’d say the ‘ichneumon wasp’ theory seems to hold in my particular case.

        I was ‘got’ by one of these ten minutes ago whilst putting it out of the window. (It’s late afternoon here – I rarely see these during the day, so that was odd to start with).

        I thought it was just a kind of crane fly I’d never seen before – it didn’t look like the ‘usual’ kind we get here in eastern England (which is, indeed, harmless), so I should have been more careful, really.

        I had her by the wings, and she twisted and dug the ‘sting’ right into my thumb – I was so surprised I let go, though it wasn’t especially painful, and still isn’t.

    • wendy says:

      Absolutely! I’m sorry but maybe a now species I also tried to place this bug outside in my hand, IT STUNG ME LILE A BEE! Sorry bugan they sting.

  3. Josh says:

    Spring, Texas: A few minutes ago I got home from the store, and when I walked through the door, I saw what I thought was a common crane fly slipping into the kitchen. I had cupped my hand around him and was gonna toss him back outside, but before I got back to the door, he stung or bit me on my palm and I dropped it. It wasn’t anything agonizing, and after putting some ammonia on it, it hasn’t bothered me, but a small area around the single puncture hole is red. Once I tended my hand, I gathered him up in a papertowel and carried him to the counter under the light and magnifying glass, and its head looked more like a tiny wasp head than a Crane Fly. It was an opaque yellow/orange in colour with opaque colorless wings. It hadn’t any noticeable antennae, however. Am curious as to what it was, and any help identifying would be appreciated. Like I said, it wasn’t too painful, but it stunned me. I hadn’t expected to get plucked, I’ve never encountered an insect with a Crane Fly’s figure that was capable of any sense of harm before, kinda threw me for a loop! @__@

  4. DesaRae says:

    I just got stung on the back by a CRANE FLY last night. I rolled over on it laying in bed. It left a big white mark where it stung me, then red around it. Felt like the stinger was still inside for a couple hours, but then. redness and stuff went away towards the end of the night.

  5. Erin says:

    I, too, was stung by a crane fly yesterday. It shocked me, as crane flies “do not sting.” It seems that anecdotal evidence is beginning to outweigh what is known in the canon of crane fly info. 🙂 I am sure this was a crane fly and not an ichneumon. Positive i.d., used to dealing with these guys. Picked it up to bring it outside, and it stung my palm. Left a red mark! I was so surprised, I shrieked.

  6. Jennifer F says:

    A crane fly either bite or stung me…….I hate that everyone keeps saying this isn’t try. I saw it with my own eyes! Don’t believe me…..Go put one on your hand!

    • Jennifer F says:

      *bit….

    • My son was just bit. On every site I went to it says they don’t….bull crap!

      • Just because you say it was a crane fly doesn’t mean it actually was one… I mean c’mon how could it have possibly stayed still enough for you to be so sure it was a crane fly…

      • Brynn Fredenburg says:

        Candace, how do you know what you saw was a crane fly? There are other possibilities to what this “crane fly” was for instance how about the ichneumon, that could be possible. And I’m not saying your son wasn’t but by a crane fly either I just don’t really think these harmless crane flies could bite or much less sting a person or any other living thing.

  7. Deborah Morey says:

    I live in east Texas and have been around crane flies all my life but I was just stung on my neck and have huge raised welp from it!

  8. Jeff says:

    Same thing happened to me last night in Cincinnati. Cranefly…tried to take it outside. It bit/stung me and left no mark. Like the others I was surprised, which is why I googled it and came to this post with people who have shared my experience.

    • bugman says:

      Thank you for providing another account of a sting from a Crane Fly.

      • Craig Frost says:

        Bugman if you can tell me where to send pics I can send you some of the ones we have around Alabama. There are quite a few of these crane flys around my house that sting.

      • wendy says:

        I know this must be frustrating but it is something to investigate,. Maybe the crane fly has an “Evil” twin sister!

      • Scott Davis says:

        I am not stupid. They do sting. The one exactly in the picture. I live in the Dfw area of Texas. Maybe you can come here and let type catch one and we will see what happens.

        • bugman says:

          According to the American Mosquito Control Association: “Crane Flies (Tipulidae) are delicate insects varying in size from ¼ inch to as large as 1½ inches in length. The largest crane flies are sometimes called “daddy-long-legs”, “gully nippers”, or “mosquito hawks”. However, they do not bite people and they do not eat mosquitoes.” According to California Insects by Jerry A. Powell and Charles Leonard Hogue: “Few insects are capable of stinging, but often the term ‘sting’ is misused for insect bites. The sting apparatus is a modified ovipositor in female ants, wasps and bees. No other insects sting. In contrast to insect bites, the sting is accompanied by the injection of a toxin, a mixture of complex proteins and enzymes which acts on the tissues of the victim to release histamine; and in humans, depending upon the individual sensitivity, the effects may be severe.” The Crane Fly is classified with other flies in the insect order Diptera, not with the ants, wasps and bees in the order Hymenoptera. Since Crane Flies are not classified in the only insect order with stinging insects, Hymenoptera, Crane Flies are incapable of stinging. Since they physically cannot sting and they do not bite, we maintain our stand that people who insist they have been stung by a Crane Fly have misidentified another creature, most likely an Ichneumon, for the offending stinger.

  9. can says:

    My dog chased a bug last night that looked a lot like the pic of crane fly, she got it and it stung her in the mouth.she jumped like it hurt but it didnt swell like a bee sting so I thought it was fine, when we got up in the morning she got off the bed and started throwing up.she seems ok now but next time I will get the bug outside safely:)we live in illinios

  10. Wendy T says:

    I’m sorry, I agree with everyone else – THEY STING. What just stung me a few moments ago looked like the classic crane fly. He’d been in my house all day (since I let him in this morning as I was leaving for work) – as I was going to bed, I noticed he was on the inside of the door – I cupped my hand around it to help it outside, and I have a burning, swollen hand to prove they do sting. He’s now in a crumple (with shoe impressions distorting his carcass) on the inside of my doorway. It’s no wasp.

  11. Brian says:

    Crane Flies/Mosquito Hawks STING! I got stung in the back sitting outside w/o a shirt. It got between me and the back of the chair. It left a welt and felt like there was a little needle or nettle like that of a thistle or itch weed.

  12. Craig Frost says:

    My son had a crane fly on his leg and he was afraid of it, screaming for me to get it. When I picked it up off of him it stung my middle finger pretty good. It actually left a small piece of stinger in my finger that I had to pick out with a pair of tweezers.

  13. MTKUKER says:

    crane fly sting palm of my hand after ~4 days found the stinger and removed it
    it almost felt like an electrical shock with pulses as it stung my hand

  14. MTKUKER says:

    In south east Nebraska

  15. MTKUKER says:

    Looking at the photos of ichneumon wasp It very well could have been one of these. some photos look pretty much the same as a crane fly.

  16. Jessie says:

    Years ago, I stepped on a crane fly (yes, it was a crane fly, not any Ichnuemons), and it stung me on my foot. It died and I put it in a cup. It was definitely a crane fly, and the internet says they don’t sting but this one definitely did, somehow.

  17. Margie Mitchell says:

    A bug was flying around me a morning ago. I was trying to capture it and put it outside. In so doing I got stung. My finger swelled and the bite or sting isn’t going away. It sort of looks like the picture above, but it was bright orange in color. Didn’t think Mayflies bite, so thought it was something else, but it looked just like a mayfly. Now I wish I had taken a picture of it, but my finger is very painful and nothing is helping that pain go away. This had the long legs and wings of a Mayfly.

  18. Justin says:

    They DO sting. I’m here in Dallas. I was watching a movie paying little attention to what turned out to be a Crane Fly. I’ve never seen one of these before and Googled what I saw. What I just killed looks exactly the same as a Crane Fly. I paid not attention until my feet started itching then burning. I turned on the light and have 5 welts on my feet. They sting like a fire ant and swell similarly. Using Skeeter Stix has helped after applying. Entomologists need to revisit what they thought they knew about this insect.

    Justin

  19. Ivory says:

    Mr. Bugman I live in Shreveport, La and yes these things do sting and it hurts like hell!

  20. amanda says:

    THEY DO BITE MY HUSBAND SWATED AT ONE TONIGHT AND IT FLEW BACK AND STUNG HIM ON HIS FINGER!!

  21. Andrew Swensen says:

    YES they do sting genius. I don’t care what school you went to or what PHD whatever. Pick one up then smart guy…they sting! Not like a bee but close. And they continue to stab that lance over and over when under duress. Sometimes experience beats education I guess. Ouch the red ones are aggressive and mean!

  22. Redneck Retards says:

    I love how people think they’re smarter than others that studied Entomology, and still have the childlike mentality of “if it talks like a duck and squawks like a duck…” Stay in school kids!

    • wendy says:

      That’s rude! Both culprits look very similar and very easily could be mistaken. I have been stung and it looks so much like the crane. I am unsure which but will more closly examine the others in my home.

  23. Kat says:

    I have Crane flies galore here is the gulf coast of MS. They are always engaged by the lights and end up in my house when the furkids go out for there outside trips. I keep several in the house (unplanned) on any given day. I’ve never been bitten, stung by these gentle insects. They occassionally land or flutter on my skin which, I call a butterfly kiss because of the flutter feel but, I guess now it can be a cranefly kiss….just doesn’t sound as warm. I’ve thought for years of these as Mosquito hawks, that what we called them our growing up years, however after a disagreement and research it is actually my beloved dragon fly, aka, mosquito hawk that devours our nasty little pesk…which explains why we have so many of those as well, to my happiness. Never been bit or stung by a Cranefly

  24. Bill says:

    A few nights ago saw a mosquito hawk or crane fly, in Ca we have quite a few. Grew up around them, never experienced a bite from one until recently. Swatted at it after it flew into my face, it then came back and landed on my chest, I shooed it off, but before it went it stung me leaving a red welt that burned for two days.

  25. Melissa says:

    After seeing everyone argue with the expert, I thought, it’s time to do some research. Here is what I learned—- A crane fly looks very close to an ophioninae. The major difference in the two is a crane fly doesn’t sting or bite. But a ophioninae does. None of you was bit or stung by a crane fly. Sorry if I stepped on any toes.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for your research Melissa. The editorial staff at What’s That Bug? has been trying to get that point across for many years.

  26. Jason says:

    Tonight I caught a mosquito hawk in my hand was going to throw it outside and it stung my hand. It left a mark and my hand burns and yes it is swollen. I have a picture to prove it. I live in North Central Texas and they are as common as flies here.

  27. Matthew says:

    I was bitten the other day by what i thought was a crane fly, except the abdomen was more arched, and the wings were shorter and more rounded then that of a crane fly, the affected area has a large welt is ed and has a rash surrounding it and is painful to touch and itches terribly

  28. ivan says:

    I googled “stinging insect that looks like a mayfly”, and found this site. Turn out I’ve been calling cranefly, mayfly. But a further search claims that neither of these critters stings or bites. But just like the other folks commenting I got stung or bit or whatever by a critter very similar looking to a cranefly, although it did look a bit different. So what stung us?

  29. ivan says:

    never mind, should have read comments closer, pretty sure it was a ichneumon

  30. Joe says:

    Hi UK here never been stung by a crane fly (or daddy long legs as we call them) but then nothing really stings here! Was wondering what the little dude floating about my house is. Very graceful flight unlike the common cranes, half the size but very crane like otherwise. The wings are held at 90 degrees to body and are possibly double. They have squared sort of ends and the only pic ive seen of a crane with non rounded tips are the ones in the fishing tackle box! Any ideas? Let’s hope he doesn’t come back while I’m asleep and sting me on behalf of his vicious American cousin!

  31. John says:

    They most certainly do sting. Just about every original post (not reply) on the story are from people claiming they were stung, they all can’t be wrong. I know first hand they sting, I was stung by one this past summer, and no it wasn’t Ichneumon Wasp, it was a Crane Fly. Not sure how people can claim they don’t sting unless they finally get stung by one, like I did. I would of sworn they didn’t sting, I was sure of it, besides, everything on the net said the same thing, they didn’t sting. Then It happened, I got stung by one.

  32. Marion says:

    I live in England and about an hour ago I found a crane fly in the kitchen. I cupped it in my hands to take it to the front door and let it out. It stung me! I had no idea that they could sting but by golly it DID sting! My hand is still red! I dropped the crane fly like a hot brick and while I nursed my hand I decided that I had better stamp on it in case something awful happened to me and the hospital needed to see the culprit.

    We have loads of crane flies where I live and I know what they look like – it wasn’t a hornet or a wasp. It was a crane fly – just like the one in the photo at the top of the page. I found this page when looking for some advice on crane fly stings.

  33. Mandy says:

    I was stung several years ago by what I thought to be a mosquito hawk/crane fly. It came in at night. That’s when I see them the most, at night near light sources. I cupped it in my hand to take it back out & it stung the crap out of me. It felt like a mini pulsating electric shock, not something I want to experience again.

  34. Chels says:

    They definitely sting!! Had my window open and felt something sting my leg under my blanket and lifted it up and the little sucker was right there!! Weather has been pretty great in charleston lately so my windows have been open a lot and I’ve crossed paths with plenty of these hawk Mosquitos and never been bit but I can promise you this one bit me!!

  35. Rachel says:

    Same story here — my husband got stung by one trying to release it tonight. I’ve just been smashing them when I find them in the house because I don’t trust ANYTHING not to sting. I saw it, he saw it. Definitely one of the crane flies. Not a wasp.

  36. Erik says:

    Okay, Okay, just to clarify for us, as I myself have been looking every where on the net, do Crane Flies have stingers or not? They are the reason why I even came to this site. I just smashed like three in my room thing they where mosquitoes on steroids or something. After reading wikipedia, I definitely know they can be label as Crane Flies. Their legs easily fall off off, they actually try to run away from me and are NOT aggressive by any means. But whats up with the end of their ‘tail’ looking so sharp?? To an unaware human eye, this is a sign of danger, whether the bug is dangerous or not. Is that what it mates with or something? Or is that what it stings (IF it is a stinger), or is it just simply the look of that part of its body. I get that they are non-aggressive now, and before I always just thought they must have been mosquitoes. But now I know they are crane flies. But why can’t some one just simply explain if they have stingers or not? Instead of just saying they don’t sting or bite people, I get that. They run away. But this does not answer if they have a stinger or not, and if so, they could sting people, if that was their last line of defense.

  37. Terry says:

    I am in England. About 30 years ago I was stung by a crane fly and have been trying to convince people of it ever since. We who have been on the receiving end are convinced they do, although it seems it’s only the female of the species as have captured males in my hand with no problem. Will never touch a female again, it hurt like hell and my hand swelled up. To those who absolutely do not believe it these creatures seem to be prevalent the world over. Please go catch one.

  38. Terry says:

    I am always prepared to be wrong, in fact it is even good to be wrong if you learn something from it. Having read the replies from the experts I went and had a look at a lot of photo’s of the Ichneumon wasp and I admit there are several types which do look very much like craneflies. As I was 15 when I caught this particular creature in my hand and as I obviously released it to fly away very quickly I didn’t get a good long look at it. Cranefly or wasp it resulted in a phobia of anything dragonflyish for a good number of years until I told myself I was being stupid and forced myself to catch another one in my house to release it outside. The only way to be absolutely certain is, I guess, to capture what is definitely a female cranefly and see if she stings me. If I ever pluck up the courage I’ll let you know!!

  39. Jessica says:

    I live in Arkansas, and y’all can say they don’t sting as much as you like, but you are WRONG! I have been stung three different times by three different ones and it looks exactly like the pictures y’all are posting. It stings like a wasp and leaves the red dot in the middle with the whelp around it. It didn’t land on me and attack me like a red wasp or something, but one got caught between my fingers and I guess I scared it and it stung me as a defense mechanism. I will beware from now on.

  40. Brian says:

    Ummm yeah they do to sting and you can definitely see a stinger protruding from its derriere.

  41. Katherine Houston says:

    I was surprisingly stung by a flying insect last night that was around the light fixture that I thought was a crane fly/skeeter hawk. As I was carrying it outside, it stung me on the finger. Like a yellowjacket sting–big hard swollen raised painful enough that I can still feel it a bit, 24 hrs later, even tho I took an antihistamine right away. I am in Northern California. Didn’t look like the Ichneumons pictured.

  42. Tina says:

    I live in Andalusia Alabama and last night ( Halloween) my daughters and I were sitting on the porch handing out candy and I had glitter on my face pretty thick as face painting. This mosquito hawk landed on my face and the thick glitter stuck to it and it couldn’t move , it stung the hell out of me, I had to grab it and throw it down and then stepped on it. It was definitely a mosquito or what’s called a crane fly…I had a whelt for hours!!!

  43. Tina says:

    I took a picture of it stuck to my shoe when I smashed it….all these scientists saying they don’t sting just has not been stung by one….it felt like liquid fire.

  44. Tina says:

    And it leaves a little white whelt with a red dot in the middle…24 hrs latter you can still see it.

  45. David says:

    I’m going to take a video with my phone because they have a stinger or the other thing you called it and I’ve been stung by one. If so many people claim this why haven’t they done more research. A million people can’t be wrong. Anyways I’ll take a video and show it curling and trying to sting and stinging. Where do I send it?

  46. A Biology Student says:

    This is kind of ridiculous. Is anyone listening? Crane flies do NOT possess the proper equipment to administer a sting. Does anyone here truly think that after years and years of study, such a feature would have remained unknown? Are you truly willing to accept hearsay and anecdotal evidence from the postmortem examination of smashed insect remains over thorough scientific investigation?

    I have caught both ichneumons and crane flies, and can attest to the similar morphology and behavior. I have recieved stings as a consequence of mistaking the identity of an individual. Every year I have seen both ichneumons and crane flies inside my home. Numerous times I have even encountered an ichneumon fly mixed in with a group of crane flies. These occurences are probably entirely coincidental, due to the relative abundance of both organisms.

    If you are going to establish an authentic claim that you truly got stung, you must catch the insect in the process of stinging, thus positively identifying the culprit. There should be no posibility that the individual captured was not responsible for the sting. The injury must be positvely identified as a sting, and not some other injury which may have inadvertently aquired in a different manner. Clear pictures must me taken of the insect in question, in order to positively identify it, and if at all possible the specimen should be preserved intact and submitted to a competent entomologist. It would be sensational if a cranefly was discovered which actually posessed a true stinger. No insect in order Diptera has ever been documented to have a stinger.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks so much for your passionate comment that supports what we have stated for years. Interestingly, we recently received this posting that does lend some credence to the claim that Crane Flies might be able to inflict pain on humans. Upon contacting Crane Fly expert Dr. Chen Young and Eric Eaton, we are standing firm that Crane Flies do not sting, but that the ovipositor of a female Crane Fly might jab a person accidentally.

  47. destiny haddix says:

    I did the same thing , picked it up and was looking at it (I was curious if it stung or not) & it DEFINITELY had a stinger! NOT gonna tell me otherwise I seen that crap with my own two eyes and yes it was a crane fly!

  48. destiny haddix says:

    And yes it was live and well while I was checking her out!

  49. M. Peoples says:

    Many many years ago , showing off around friends trying to impress a female. I caught a crane fly in my hand showing that it was harmless, but to my surprise. I was stung with my middle finger almost tripling for about 45 minutes or more. That’s when I stopped catching insects. So tell me what it was.

  50. Alice Downing says:

    I am in Forestville, CA 60 miles north of San Francisco and I was trying to do the right thing by rescuing the darn thing flying around in my house.I cupped my hand over it as it went to a light and it stung the crap out of my finger.That was 3 days ago and my finger is still red and swollen.It looks exactly like the pic in this article.Instead of killing it, I put a towel over it and took it out.Next time I will not be so nice as my finger is still painful.

  51. Jo says:

    I found this page because I too googled after being bitten, stung or jabbed by what looked like a crane fly.
    The bites / jabs / stings happened a few days ago, and the site is still red, swollen and itchy. The bug was inside my dressing gown when I put it on, which it obviously wasn’t very pleased about. The first couple of bites, jabs or stings were pretty minor. They felt like perhaps a course thread, or plastic shopping tag was digging into my skin. But the last 3 were quite painful, and believe me, you’ve never seen someone leap out of a dressing gown so fast! Lol.
    I wish I’d thought to take a photo of the bug to get a positive ID on it. Regardless, I shall be taking a closer look at all of the “crane flies” I see from now on, to see if they’re actually crane flies, or ichneumon wasps.
    I’m in Brisbane, Australia.

  52. Alesha says:

    I am reading all these reports of people saying how they have been stung or bitten by the crane fly and I can vouch, I was stung by one last night. And I took tons of photos and video of what did it. So if you’d like to tell me that the footage I have isn’t a crane fly, I’ll listen. Please email me at thelasvegasmermaid@gmail.com

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