Currently viewing the category: "Crane Fly"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What kind of bug is this
Location: MIchigian
May 26, 2017 7:36 am
I would just like to know what kind of bug this is?!
Signature: Catie

Mating Crane Flies

Dear Catie,
These are mating Crane Flies, and in some locations they are called Mosquito Hawks or Skeeter Hawks because people mistakenly believe they eat Mosquitoes.  Crane Flies are harmless.  They neither sting nor bite.  According to Texas A&M City Bugs:  “Crane flies are among the gentlest of insects. Some are nectar feeders, sipping sweet sugars from plants and possibly helping out a little with pollination in the process. Other species lack mouth parts entirely. Instead, the adults live out their short lives relying on fat reserves built up during their underground larval stage.”  The site also states:  “Enjoy crane flies while they last.  And keep in mind that as adults, these flies only have love on their tiny minds.  The sole purpose of the adult crane fly is to mate and, for the females, to lay eggs for next spring’s crop of flies.  Crane flies are harmless to handle, so the next time one makes its way indoors, simply cup it gently to release outdoors.  Think of it as a romantic gesture.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Mosquito?
Location: Cherry Valley, CA
May 20, 2017 6:19 am
Dear Bugman – Found this on my screen yesterday at dusk. Seemed bigger than most mosquitos I’ve seen around here. Always come to you with my bug queries & you never let me down!
Thanks for all you do!!!
Signature: Betz

Crane Fly

Dear Betz,
This is a Crane Fly in the family Tipulidae, which is well represented on BugGuide.  Though they resemble Mosquitoes, and they are frequently called Mosquito Hawks, Crane Flies neither sting nor bite, nor do they hunt Mosquitoes.  Because of the record breaking rainfall in California this past season, Crane Flies have been especially numerous this spring.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Always wondered
Location: Langdon NH
May 4, 2017 7:23 pm
I have always wanted to know what these bugs are known as. I get them all the time.
Signature: Donna Caron

Giant Eastern Crane Fly

Dear Donna,
Based on BugGuide images, we at first mistook this for a Giant Eastern Crane Fly,
Pedicia albivitta, because BugGuide does indicate:  “the most commonly encountered species of Pedicia“, but upon more closely scrutinizing the dark pattern on the wings, we realized there was no dark mark intersecting the bottom edge in the wing, which causes us to speculate, based on BugGuide images, that this is actually Pedicia contermina, a similar looking member of the same genus.  Crane Flies are frequently attracted to lights, which might explain why you get them all the time. They are erroneously called Mosquito Hawks or just Skeeter Hawks because they are believed to eat Mosquitoes, when in fact most Crane Flies probably do not feed as adults.  There are also folks who mistakenly believe Crane Flies sting, but they neither sting nor bite, so they are harmless to humans.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: insect ID
Location: San Diego County
April 27, 2017 9:02 am
(body about 1 1/2” long)
Signature: Gerald Friesen

Crane Fly

Dear Gerald,
This is a Crane Fly in the family Tipulidae, and they are currently quite numerous in Southern California because the wet winter created the perfect conditions for development of the larva.  Crane Flies are harmless despite their resemblance to giant mosquitoes.  Many Los Angeles residence have become alarmed by the large number of Crane Flies prompting the Los Angeles Times to run an article earlier this month that states:  “According to [Karen] Mellor [an entomologist for the Antelope Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District], weather conditions this year helped produce a bumper crop of crane flies. Sometimes called mosquito hawks, these pesky insects are clumsy fliers and often bob along walls or windows, she said. Most alarmingly, they sometimes fly toward people.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Large insect swarm… is my Infant Safe?
Location: Pacific Northwest, Springfield, Oregon
April 17, 2017 3:15 am
Hello, I have a 17 yr old Son and 5 Month old Son at home. My Oldest was working on the yard this weekend. We had a tree fall during a storm about 10 years ago. He was starting to use the Weed-eater around the stump. When a Swarm of these insects flew out at my Son. He didn’t get stung and as fast as they surrounded him they went back in. He said they acted like wasps but they didn’t follow him. I though at first he was just trying to get out of yard work. When I went out there I saw one until I got to close and 20 of them flew out. My son was right they acted like wasps more like pretended to be. I went and grabbed the camera with the long lenses to take the picture. They are very Beautiful but intimidating. I would like to know what they are and if they are safe? Especially because of my 5 month old. The stump is about 6 ft from the Nursery Window. They window is closed now but when summer comes that might be a problem. I don’t want to harm them if we can co-exist I will leave them be. If not are they able to be relocated?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and Thank you in advance for any help you can give me!
Signature: Angie W

Crane Fly

Dear Angie,
We believe we have correctly identified this beautiful, and perfectly harmless, male Crane Fly as
Ctenophora vittata angustipennis thanks to images posted on BugGuide where Eric Eaton provided this comment:  “There is at least one common wood-boring species in the Pacific Northwest. I ran across a log full of the larvae and pupae once, before I knew what they were! Pretty bizarre.”  According to BugGuide, there are two subspecies:  “holarctic: one ssp. along the NA Pacific coast (BC-CA), another across Eurasia.”  We believe the larvae were developing in the rotting wood and that is why they were found near the log.  They are not social insects, but when conditions are correct, there can be large numbers of individuals.  There are currently several species of Crane Flies that are appearing in great numbers in Southern California, and we believe their numbers were affected by the record rains we had this past winter.  These Crane Flies pose no threat to your toddler and there is no need to relocate their rotting log.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Stunging crane fly
Location: Wimberley, Texas
April 7, 2017 7:09 pm
I take crane flies out all the time. I was stung by Image 1 a few nights ago. I was so shocked bc it had NEVER happened to me or my children EVER! You can see the sting on my palm in image 2. Image 3 is another crane fly without a stinger–which is what the majority of mine look like! What’s up with that stinger? Im guessing one is male and one is female? It was quite a sting. I can still see the mark three days later.
Signature: Kristina Minor

Reportedly Stinging Crane Fly

Dear Kristina,
For years we have received reports of Crane Flies stinging individuals, and after verifying that impossibility with Dr Chen Young, we have speculated that the actual culprit is a Short-Tailed Ichneumon which does resemble a Crane Fly.  Your account is the first we have received that actually contained an image of the Crane Fly that reportedly stung (or bit) an individual, as well as an image of the irritated area on the body.  Furthermore, you seem quite familiar with Crane Flies, so we can’t help but to give your report credibility.  This does go against all we have learned of Crane Flies.  For that reason we will forward your information and images to Dr. Chen Young, a noted Crane Fly expert, to get his input.  The antennae on the individual you say resembles the majority of your Crane Flies are more developed, leading us to believe that is a male.  Stinging insects are generally female and a modified ovipositor, an organ used to lay eggs, is the stinging body part.

Site of the reported Crane Fly sting

Eric Eaton weighs in.
The “stinging” crane fly is simply a female.  I suppose a jab from her ovipositor might *feel* like a sting, but they are certainly not venomous.  The other crane fly with the bulbous rear end is a male.
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

A non-stinging Crane Fly

That was one heck of a “jab.”  I still have the mark and I’m here to tell you it hurt for a while.  Ive attached the picture to show you what it looks like today–several days later.  When it happened, like image 2 in my previous email, it was white around the “sting” area and very red spreading from there.  That sure seems like a reaction to something?  Could they have evolved?  ;).  Getting smarter?  Wanting to survive?  LOL

Crane Fly “Sting”

Dear Kristina,
Thanks for providing a follow-up image of your “jab” after several days.  We will try to do some additional research.  According to the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania:  “The larvae are found in a wide variety of habitats, varying from strictly aquatic to terrestrial, even relatively dry soil.  Their habitats include fresh water in fast-flowing streams, marshes, springs, meadows, seeps, tree holes, algal growth or mosses on rock faces near water, organic mud and decaying vegetable debris along the shores of streams and ponds, accumulated decomposed leaves and rotting wood on the forest floor, and occasionally soil in lawn and pastures.”  Since the ovipositor is an organ the female uses while laying eggs, and since the stingers of stinging insects like wasps and bees is a modified ovipositor, we do not want to rule out the possibility that the ovipositor of a Crane Fly species that lays eggs in rotting wood might also penetrate human skin.

Entomologist and Crane Fly Specialist Dr. Chen Young Responds
Dear Daniel,
All I can say is that whatever stung Kristina was not a crane fly.  The ovipositor of female crane fly is not a defensive weapon but an egg laying apparatus, usually blunt instead of sharp at the end.
Chen Young


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination