Bugs That Look Like Giant Mosquitoes: Meet the Harmless Doppelgangers

Giant mosquitoes might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but some insects look strikingly similar to oversized versions of these pesky bloodsuckers. While encountering these large bugs can be alarming, it’s essential to know that they aren’t the same as the common mosquitoes we are familiar with.

One example of such an insect is the crane fly, often mistaken for a huge mosquito due to its appearance. However, unlike mosquitoes, crane flies do not bite or transmit diseases. Insects like crane flies play a crucial role in our ecosystem, serving as food for various animals and decomposers of organic matter. So, there’s no need to panic when you come across bugs that resemble massive mosquitoes – they’re likely just a harmless part of nature!

Understanding Giant Mosquito Look-Alikes

Crane Flies

Crane flies belong to the family Tipulidae and are often mistaken for giant mosquitoes due to their long legs and wings. However, these insects have some distinct differences from mosquitoes:

  • Crane flies are larger and have a more delicate body structure.
  • They do not bite or transmit diseases like mosquitoes.
  • Their antennae are longer and more segmented compared to mosquito antennae.

Some common examples of crane flies include the marsh crane fly and the European crane fly.

Midges

Midges are small flying insects from the Diptera order, similar to mosquitoes. Key differences between midges and mosquitoes include:

  • Midges usually have shorter antennae.
  • They are also non-biting and don’t transmit diseases like mosquitoes.
  • Some species of midges are predatory on other insects.

A specific group of midges, known as dance flies, are often confused with mosquitoes due to their similar appearance.

Mayflies

Mayflies are another group of insects that are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes. They can be distinguished from mosquitoes by the following characteristics:

  • Mayflies have two or three long, slender tails.
  • Their wings are held vertically over the body when at rest.
  • Mayflies do not possess blood-sucking mouthparts like mosquitoes.
Characteristics Crane Flies Midges Mayflies Mosquitoes
Legs Long Short Short Short
Wings Long, delicate Short, hairy Long, slender Narrow
Biting No No No Yes
Disease Transmit No No No Yes

Remember, while these insects may look like giant mosquitoes, they are different species and do not pose the same threats to humans. It’s essential to recognize these distinctions to avoid unnecessary fear or harm to these beneficial insects.

Anatomy and Characteristics of These Insects

Crane Flies

Crane flies are a common insect that often resembles a giant mosquito. Their distinctive features include:

  • Long, slender legs
  • Two wings
  • Elongated body

Although they have a similar body structure, crane flies do not bite or feed on blood. Their mouthparts are not designed for piercing. Crane flies mainly feed on nectar.

Midges

Midges are another type of insect that closely resembles mosquitoes. Key features of midges include:

  • Short, bushy antennae
  • Two wings covered in scales
  • Small, round body

Midges do not have long legs like crane flies. Some midge species are known to bite, but they typically have different mouthparts than mosquitoes.

Mayflies

Mayflies are another insect species commonly mistaken for giant mosquitoes. Notable characteristics of mayflies are:

  • Two or three long tails
  • Four wings, with the front pair being larger
  • Short, bristle-like antennae

Mayflies are easily distinguished from mosquitoes by their wings and tail structures. They do not bite or feed on blood.

Insect Type Legs Wings Antennae Bite?
Crane Fly Long 2 Long, slender No
Midge Short 2 Bushy, short Yes*
Mayfly Short 4 Short, bristle No

*Only some midge species bite.

Life Cycle and Habitat

Crane Flies

Crane flies are often mistaken for giant mosquitoes due to their appearance. These insects lay their eggs near water sources, and their larvae are called “leatherjackets” due to their tough outer skin. Leatherjackets live in moist environments like streams and ponds, feeding on decaying organic matter, fungi, and plant roots.

Adult crane flies, on the other hand, feed on nectar and facilitate plant pollination. They are commonly found in North America and can be seen around lawns and gardens. Crane flies follow a complete metamorphosis, with their life cycle consisting of the egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages.

  • Habitat: Lawns, gardens, streams, and ponds
  • Food: Adult crane flies feed on nectar, while leatherjackets feed on roots, decaying organic matter, and fungi

Midges

Midges are small, delicate insects that closely resemble mosquitoes. Their larvae are aquatic, developing in various water bodies such as ponds and marshes. During the larval stage, midges feed on algae, fungi, and other organic materials.

When the adult midges emerge, they form large mating swarms, usually around dusk, and rest during the day. Adult midges do not bite, unlike mosquitoes. Their life cycle includes egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages.

  • Habitat: Ponds, marshes, and other aquatic environments
  • Food: Larvae feed on algae and fungi, adults do not bite or feed on blood

Mayflies

Mayflies have delicate bodies and wings, often making them appear like oversized mosquitoes. The larval stage of mayflies occurs in water, where they feed on algae, detritus, and other organic materials. The larvae, also known as nymphs, develop in aquatic habitats like streams, ponds, and lakes.

Adult mayflies have a very short lifespan, living for just a day or two. Their primary goal is to mate and lay eggs. They do not have functional mouthparts, so they do not feed.

  • Habitat: Streams, ponds, and lakes
  • Food: Larvae feed on algae and detritus, adults do not feed
Crane Flies Midges Mayflies
Habitat Lawns, gardens, streams, and ponds Ponds, marshes, and other aquatic environments Streams, ponds, and lakes
Food Adults feed on nectar, leatherjackets feed on roots, decaying organic matter, and fungi Larvae feed on algae and fungi, adults do not bite or feed on blood Larvae feed on algae and detritus, adults do not feed

Behavior and Ecology

Crane Flies

Crane flies, belonging to the family Tipulidae, are often mistaken for giant mosquitoes. However, they’re harmless and do not bite or transmit diseases. These insects exhibit the following traits:

  • Adults have a short lifespan of 10-15 days.
  • Larvae feed on decaying organic material or roots of turf grasses.
  • Adult crane flies are food for birds, frogs, and spiders.

Examples of crane flies include the common European crane fly and the giant crane fly.

Midges

Midges are another group of insects resembling mosquitoes. They belong to the family Chironomidae. Here are some key characteristics:

  • Non-biting species known as “blind mosquitoes”.
  • Larvae thrive in a variety of aquatic habitats.
  • Adults serve as pollinators and food for birds, spiders, and other insectivores.

Notable examples are the phantom midge and the bloodworm, providing essential feeding for small fish and invertebrates.

Mayflies

Mayflies, from the order Ephemeroptera, also bear resemblance to mosquitoes. They share the following features:

  • Short adult lifespan, ranging from a few hours to a few days.
  • Nymphs, which inhabit freshwater habitats, are a major food source for fish.
  • Known for their spectacular synchronized mating flights.

An example of a mayfly is the green drake, an important food source for trout.

Insect Type Main Characteristics Example Role in Ecosystem
Crane Flies Short lifespan, feed on organic material European crane fly Food for birds, frogs, and spiders
Midges Non-biting, aquatic habitats Phantom midge Pollinators, food for birds and spider
Mayflies Short adult lifespan, freshwater nymphs Green drake Food for fish, well-known for mating flights

Common Misconceptions

Many people mistake other insects for giant mosquitoes. Common misconceptions revolve around their appearance, feeding habits, and behavior.

One insect often confused with mosquitoes is the cranefly. Although they look similar to giant mosquitoes, craneflies are harmless. Here are some differences:

  • Mosquitoes need blood to reproduce, craneflies feed on nectar.
  • Mosquitoes have a slender, elongated body, while craneflies have a thicker body and longer legs.

A comparison table of their features:

Feature Mosquito Cranefly
Size Small to medium Medium to large
Body Shape Slender, elongated Thicker, long-legged
Feeding Habits Blood (females), nectar Nectar

Two examples of crane flies are:

  1. Tipula oleracea: Known as the European crane fly.
  2. Tipula paludosa: Commonly called the marsh crane fly.

Another insect often mistaken for a mosquito is the aquatic midge or “blind mosquito”. They don’t bite or feed on blood, but they can be a nuisance. Some key characteristics of midges include:

  • They don’t bite humans.
  • They are attracted to light.

In conclusion, misconceptions around giant mosquitoes often stem from their similarities with other insects like craneflies and aquatic midges. It’s essential to understand these differences to accurately identify the insects and know how to deal with them accordingly.

Identifying and Managing Potential Pests

Crane Flies

Crane flies, belonging to the insect family Tipulidae, are often mistaken for giant mosquitoes due to their size and lengthy wings. Unlike mosquitoes, they do not bite humans or animals. Crane flies feed on organic matter, and in fall, they lay eggs in soil, which could cause brown patches in lawns. To manage crane fly populations:

  • Maintain a healthy lawn
  • Remove excess organic matter to reduce breeding sites

Midges

Midges are small, flying insects that include various species, such as the biting midge fly (Leptoconops torrens), buzzer midge (Chironomus plumosus), and the non-biting dixid midge. They are commonly found in fields during summer. Biting midges can cause discomfort, while non-biting species are harmless. Identify midges by the following features:

  • Very small size, often less than 1/8 inch
  • Usually found near water or damp areas

Managing midges:

  • Use insect repellent for biting species
  • Eliminate standing water to reduce breeding sites

Mayflies

Mayflies, although resembling mosquitoes in size and appearance, are harmless flying insects. They can be identified by their:

  • Short lifespans (24 hours to a few days)
  • Two or three thread-like tails

Mayflies serve an essential role as food for different invertebrates, fish, birds, and frogs, making them beneficial for the ecosystem. To manage mayflies in and around homes:

  • Turn off outdoor lights at night to reduce attraction
  • Seal and cover gaps and doors to prevent entry

A comparison table can help distinguish between these insect types:

Insect Wingspan Biting Behavior Identifying Features Habitat Management Tips
Crane Fly Large No Long legs, slender body Near organic matter Healthy lawns, remove excess organic matter
Midge (Biting) Small Yes Short flight period Fields in summer Insect repellent, eliminate standing water
Midge (Non-Biting) Small No Two wings, short antennae Fields in summer Eliminate standing water
Mayfly Moderate No 2-3 thread-like tails Near water Turn off lights, seal gaps and doors

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Giant Crane Fly

 

crane fly?
You have one of my all-time favorite sites on the internet. I really appreciate what you guys do.
I’m attaching two pictures of a large insect that appears to me to be a kind of crane fly. I couldn’t locate one on your site (though I know I may have just overlooked it), and tried a few others before sending it to you. I found it on our back door in north-central Arkansas at the beginning of October, 2008. Excluding the legs, its body was a good 5 centimeters long. Its antennae are interestingly-segmented, and its oversize thorax really caught my attention. I’d love it if you have the time ID this one for me.
Thanks!
Kurt Grafton
Batesville, Arkansas, USA

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Hi Kurt,
We believe your Crane Fly is a Giant Crane Fly, Tipula abdominalis. We searched the best Crane Fly identification site, the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania, and located it, and the double checked on BugGuide. According to BugGuide, the: “large size coupled with black velvety patches on thorax is diagnostic feature.” The Crane Flies of Pennsylvania site indicates: “The largest crane fly in the state of Pennsylvania, the adult of this species has a brownish gray thorax with a velvety black area on the dorsal side. The abdomen is orange with a black line on the side, and the posterior end of the abdomen is black. The wings are semitransparent with several brown areas along the front edge. The females reach about 40 mm in size, while the males are slightly smaller. The larvae of this species are aquatic and among the largest and most common aquatic invertebrates in streams of wooded areas, and are sought out as bait for fish. Larvae feed on decomposing leaves, thus playing an important role of breaking down organic matter in the water. Two generations occur, more numerous in late summer than in spring.”

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Letter 2 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Wasp family or bizarre fly?
I found this at my fathers cottage today near Maniwaki, Quebec (Canada). It was hanging on the siding first thing in the morning and was there when we left in the evening. It was around three inches long (from leg tip to leg tip). After browsing your wonderful site, I thought it might be some sort of wasp (related to the Pelecinid) but it seems to fall into the fly category as it has only two wings plus halteres. Any help would be appreciated.

Good call on the fly. This is a Giant Eastern Crane Fly, Pedicia albivitta. Because they are so distinctive, we have split Crane Flies from other flies and given them a distinct page on our site.

Letter 3 – Giant Crane Fly

 

Crane fly species (large!)
Here’s a Crane Fly species… I’m in the San Francisco Bay area, is there an endemic species hereabouts? Those are rose bush leaves that it’s landed on… Total size, (including legs) was larger than my hand – and I’ve got large (male) hands! I now realize I should’a provided information on my hand size… my hand measures 8″ across (or about 21 cm…) and the legs on this guy/gal were a little (maybe 1 cm) wider than that… another shot (from a different angle) is attached. Sorry about focus, but that’s a 50mm macro at f/32… Exposure time lost to history.
Paul

Hi Paul,
This is not the Giant Western Crane Fly, Holorusia rubiginosa, but we are not sure what species it is. We will do some additional research.

Letter 4 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

What the heck is this thing?
I know this is thing is pretty common, but if you could let me know what this is we have a pool at the office?
Apostolos T. Nacopoulos
WRB Architects
2550 West 8th Street
Erie , Pennsylvania

Hi Apostolos,
Let us know who wins the pool. This is a Giant Eastern Cranefly, Pedicia albivitta. It can achieve a wingspan of well over three inches. Adults do not eat despite carrying the colloquial common name of Mosquito Hawk.

Letter 5 – Giant Cranefly

 

not a dragonfly…. not a daddy long leg
Hello, My name is Anthony. I am from Long Island, New York. Today, November 7th, I took a picture of the strangest bug on my front porch. I estimate the it to be 4 inches across. It has two wings and six legs. Could you tell me what bug that is? Take your time, I know you are very busy.
I JUST sent you an email. Someone suggested a Crane Fly. I think
that may be it. Thank you anyway, and is my friend right??

Hi Anthony,
Your friend is right, it is a Giant Crane Fly.

Letter 6 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Long legged large beauty
August 31, 2009
Visiting a friend on Deer Isle in Maine, I found this creature on her screened in porch. It was late August. Not able to find anything close to it in my Peterson guide. Pretty large – It’s body alone was about 2 1/5 inches long. Any ideas?
Gianna
Deer Isle, Maine

Giant Eastern Crane Fly
Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Dear Gianna,
Your spectacular photograph of the spectacular Giant Eastern Crane Fly, Pedicia albivitta, is a wonderful addition to our site.  According to BugGuide:  “This species is one of the largest [Crane Flies] in northeastern United States and Canada, the other being Tipula abdominalis.”  Since it is the first of the month, there is always a bit of a lag time for our new postings to have images show live.

Letter 7 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Flying Insect
Location: Amery, WI (Northwestern Wisconsin)
September 18, 2011 2:07 am
Dear Bugman,
Late last night, aroung 1:30 am, I opened the door to let my dog outside, and in flew a very strange bug. It sort of fell into the house on the carpet. It seemed like it couldn’t fly all that well. It was darting up, trying to fly, but it would just fall back on the floor. I would guess that the body was around 2-3 inches long. I would really like to know what kind of bug this is. It’s very creepy looking! Thank you!
Signature: Tonja Williamson

Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Hi Tonja,
The markings on the wings of your Giant Eastern Crane Fly,
Pedicia albivitta, are very distinctive.  Crane Flies are harmless creatures that have a feeble flight.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae are aquatic; adults may be found on nearby vegetation and may be attracted to artificial light.”

Letter 8 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Subject: Pretty bug
Location: Sandy Hook, CT
October 13, 2012 6:14 am
This insect was about 2” long. It was on the outside of a window on a sunny day in late September. I was struck by the artistic patterns on the legs and wings – looked decorated like an American Indian pot.
Signature: Curious

Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Dear Curious,
This impressive specimen is a harmless Giant Eastern Crane Fly,
Pedicia albivitta.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae are aquatic; adults may be found on nearby vegetation and may be attracted to artificial light.”

Letter 9 – Giant Crane Fly

 

Subject: What is this bug? North-Central Minnesota
Location: Duluth, MN
July 26, 2014 5:00 pm
Good evening,
We are trying to figure out what this bug is and we really have no idea. I would say it is between 2-4 inches long with antennae. Any help would be great!!
Signature: Stephen R

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Dear Stephen,
This is a Giant Crane Fly,
Tipula abdominalis, and you can compare your image to this series from BugguideAccording to BugGuide:  “adults often attracted to light.”

Letter 10 – Giant Crane Fly

 

Subject: thought it was a huge crane fly at first glance
Location: New York/Connecticut Border
September 21, 2014 6:58 pm
… but then I realized it was a bit different. it’s wings are swept back fully and it appears to have a sharper tail than most. also absent are the nubbins of secondary wings on the crane fly.
spotted on my car in southern NY state (Purdy’s, NY) this last Saturday. had driven from nearby Connecticut but I am pretty sure it landed on my car after having parked for dinner. I’d estimate he was almost 3 inches long from front legs to rear legs.
Signature: Eric R.

from perusing your site a bit more I see it is most likely is a giant crane fly. great site, will definitely refer to it in the future!

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Dear Eric,
In comparing your image to images on BugGuide, we agree with your identification of a Giant Crane Fly,
Tipula abdominalis.

Letter 11 – Giant Crane Fly

 

Subject: Insect identification
Location: Warren County, NJ
September 21, 2014 4:11 pm
Hey Bugman,
I saw this interesting character on my front window in western New Jersey.
I’m curious as to what it is.
Thanks!
Signature: Jojo

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Hi Jojo,
We posted another image of a Giant Crane Fly earlier today.  Giant Crane Flies are attracted to lights.

Letter 12 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Subject:  winged insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Tioga Co, PA
Date: 09/06/2017
Time: 03:46 PM EDT
I found this bug on the wall of our hunting cabin in Wellsboro, PA….looks kind of like a Snakefly, but wondered if y’all could ID it for me.
How you want your letter signed:  Ginette

Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Dear Ginette,
This magnificent creature is a Giant Eastern Crane Fly,
Pedicia albivitta.  According to BugGuide:  “two distinct flight periods: usually May/June and September/October” so this sighting is right on time.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Giant Crane Fly

 

crane fly?
You have one of my all-time favorite sites on the internet. I really appreciate what you guys do.
I’m attaching two pictures of a large insect that appears to me to be a kind of crane fly. I couldn’t locate one on your site (though I know I may have just overlooked it), and tried a few others before sending it to you. I found it on our back door in north-central Arkansas at the beginning of October, 2008. Excluding the legs, its body was a good 5 centimeters long. Its antennae are interestingly-segmented, and its oversize thorax really caught my attention. I’d love it if you have the time ID this one for me.
Thanks!
Kurt Grafton
Batesville, Arkansas, USA

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Hi Kurt,
We believe your Crane Fly is a Giant Crane Fly, Tipula abdominalis. We searched the best Crane Fly identification site, the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania, and located it, and the double checked on BugGuide. According to BugGuide, the: “large size coupled with black velvety patches on thorax is diagnostic feature.” The Crane Flies of Pennsylvania site indicates: “The largest crane fly in the state of Pennsylvania, the adult of this species has a brownish gray thorax with a velvety black area on the dorsal side. The abdomen is orange with a black line on the side, and the posterior end of the abdomen is black. The wings are semitransparent with several brown areas along the front edge. The females reach about 40 mm in size, while the males are slightly smaller. The larvae of this species are aquatic and among the largest and most common aquatic invertebrates in streams of wooded areas, and are sought out as bait for fish. Larvae feed on decomposing leaves, thus playing an important role of breaking down organic matter in the water. Two generations occur, more numerous in late summer than in spring.”

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Letter 2 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Wasp family or bizarre fly?
I found this at my fathers cottage today near Maniwaki, Quebec (Canada). It was hanging on the siding first thing in the morning and was there when we left in the evening. It was around three inches long (from leg tip to leg tip). After browsing your wonderful site, I thought it might be some sort of wasp (related to the Pelecinid) but it seems to fall into the fly category as it has only two wings plus halteres. Any help would be appreciated.

Good call on the fly. This is a Giant Eastern Crane Fly, Pedicia albivitta. Because they are so distinctive, we have split Crane Flies from other flies and given them a distinct page on our site.

Letter 3 – Giant Crane Fly

 

Crane fly species (large!)
Here’s a Crane Fly species… I’m in the San Francisco Bay area, is there an endemic species hereabouts? Those are rose bush leaves that it’s landed on… Total size, (including legs) was larger than my hand – and I’ve got large (male) hands! I now realize I should’a provided information on my hand size… my hand measures 8″ across (or about 21 cm…) and the legs on this guy/gal were a little (maybe 1 cm) wider than that… another shot (from a different angle) is attached. Sorry about focus, but that’s a 50mm macro at f/32… Exposure time lost to history.
Paul

Hi Paul,
This is not the Giant Western Crane Fly, Holorusia rubiginosa, but we are not sure what species it is. We will do some additional research.

Letter 4 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

What the heck is this thing?
I know this is thing is pretty common, but if you could let me know what this is we have a pool at the office?
Apostolos T. Nacopoulos
WRB Architects
2550 West 8th Street
Erie , Pennsylvania

Hi Apostolos,
Let us know who wins the pool. This is a Giant Eastern Cranefly, Pedicia albivitta. It can achieve a wingspan of well over three inches. Adults do not eat despite carrying the colloquial common name of Mosquito Hawk.

Letter 5 – Giant Cranefly

 

not a dragonfly…. not a daddy long leg
Hello, My name is Anthony. I am from Long Island, New York. Today, November 7th, I took a picture of the strangest bug on my front porch. I estimate the it to be 4 inches across. It has two wings and six legs. Could you tell me what bug that is? Take your time, I know you are very busy.
I JUST sent you an email. Someone suggested a Crane Fly. I think
that may be it. Thank you anyway, and is my friend right??

Hi Anthony,
Your friend is right, it is a Giant Crane Fly.

Letter 6 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Long legged large beauty
August 31, 2009
Visiting a friend on Deer Isle in Maine, I found this creature on her screened in porch. It was late August. Not able to find anything close to it in my Peterson guide. Pretty large – It’s body alone was about 2 1/5 inches long. Any ideas?
Gianna
Deer Isle, Maine

Giant Eastern Crane Fly
Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Dear Gianna,
Your spectacular photograph of the spectacular Giant Eastern Crane Fly, Pedicia albivitta, is a wonderful addition to our site.  According to BugGuide:  “This species is one of the largest [Crane Flies] in northeastern United States and Canada, the other being Tipula abdominalis.”  Since it is the first of the month, there is always a bit of a lag time for our new postings to have images show live.

Letter 7 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Flying Insect
Location: Amery, WI (Northwestern Wisconsin)
September 18, 2011 2:07 am
Dear Bugman,
Late last night, aroung 1:30 am, I opened the door to let my dog outside, and in flew a very strange bug. It sort of fell into the house on the carpet. It seemed like it couldn’t fly all that well. It was darting up, trying to fly, but it would just fall back on the floor. I would guess that the body was around 2-3 inches long. I would really like to know what kind of bug this is. It’s very creepy looking! Thank you!
Signature: Tonja Williamson

Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Hi Tonja,
The markings on the wings of your Giant Eastern Crane Fly,
Pedicia albivitta, are very distinctive.  Crane Flies are harmless creatures that have a feeble flight.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae are aquatic; adults may be found on nearby vegetation and may be attracted to artificial light.”

Letter 8 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Subject: Pretty bug
Location: Sandy Hook, CT
October 13, 2012 6:14 am
This insect was about 2” long. It was on the outside of a window on a sunny day in late September. I was struck by the artistic patterns on the legs and wings – looked decorated like an American Indian pot.
Signature: Curious

Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Dear Curious,
This impressive specimen is a harmless Giant Eastern Crane Fly,
Pedicia albivitta.  According to BugGuide:  “larvae are aquatic; adults may be found on nearby vegetation and may be attracted to artificial light.”

Letter 9 – Giant Crane Fly

 

Subject: What is this bug? North-Central Minnesota
Location: Duluth, MN
July 26, 2014 5:00 pm
Good evening,
We are trying to figure out what this bug is and we really have no idea. I would say it is between 2-4 inches long with antennae. Any help would be great!!
Signature: Stephen R

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Dear Stephen,
This is a Giant Crane Fly,
Tipula abdominalis, and you can compare your image to this series from BugguideAccording to BugGuide:  “adults often attracted to light.”

Letter 10 – Giant Crane Fly

 

Subject: thought it was a huge crane fly at first glance
Location: New York/Connecticut Border
September 21, 2014 6:58 pm
… but then I realized it was a bit different. it’s wings are swept back fully and it appears to have a sharper tail than most. also absent are the nubbins of secondary wings on the crane fly.
spotted on my car in southern NY state (Purdy’s, NY) this last Saturday. had driven from nearby Connecticut but I am pretty sure it landed on my car after having parked for dinner. I’d estimate he was almost 3 inches long from front legs to rear legs.
Signature: Eric R.

from perusing your site a bit more I see it is most likely is a giant crane fly. great site, will definitely refer to it in the future!

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Dear Eric,
In comparing your image to images on BugGuide, we agree with your identification of a Giant Crane Fly,
Tipula abdominalis.

Letter 11 – Giant Crane Fly

 

Subject: Insect identification
Location: Warren County, NJ
September 21, 2014 4:11 pm
Hey Bugman,
I saw this interesting character on my front window in western New Jersey.
I’m curious as to what it is.
Thanks!
Signature: Jojo

Giant Crane Fly
Giant Crane Fly

Hi Jojo,
We posted another image of a Giant Crane Fly earlier today.  Giant Crane Flies are attracted to lights.

Letter 12 – Giant Eastern Crane Fly

 

Subject:  winged insect
Geographic location of the bug:  Tioga Co, PA
Date: 09/06/2017
Time: 03:46 PM EDT
I found this bug on the wall of our hunting cabin in Wellsboro, PA….looks kind of like a Snakefly, but wondered if y’all could ID it for me.
How you want your letter signed:  Ginette

Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Dear Ginette,
This magnificent creature is a Giant Eastern Crane Fly,
Pedicia albivitta.  According to BugGuide:  “two distinct flight periods: usually May/June and September/October” so this sighting is right on time.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

4 thoughts on “Bugs That Look Like Giant Mosquitoes: Meet the Harmless Doppelgangers”

  1. My wife saw what she assumed to be. A crane fly but it’s body was about the size of a regular cigarette with a wingspan of maybe 10 inches. She’s not squeamish about bugs so that is probably close.

    Reply
  2. I found one of theses in my house (top picture) but it looks totally black. I live in Washington the state which is pretty far from Arkansas.

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