Currently viewing the category: "Crane Fly"

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.

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


Subject: ID of 2 insects
Location: Los Angeles, CA
March 28, 2017 1:29 pm
Found this pair this morning in the shade. I assume a male and female. Any ideas?
Signature: Ann Grodin

Crane Fly

Dear Ann,
These are harmless Crane Flies, and we cannot say for certain if they are the same species or if they are opposite sexes.  We can tell you that Crane Flies are currently quite plentiful in our own Mount Washington, Los Angeles garden.  Many species of larval Crane Flies feed on roots of grasses.

Subject: Red and black mosquito eater
Location: Ben Lomond, CA 95005
March 19, 2017 7:31 pm
Had this bug land on my garage door and have never seen one like it. Looks similar to a mosquito eater crossed with a wasp?
Signature: Jeff whiting

Crane Fly

Dear Jeff,
This is a Crane Fly, group of insects commonly, though falsely, called Mosquito Hunters.  We believe your species is
Phoroctenia vittata based on BugGuide images.

Subject: Petite, with long legs, seeks same…
Location: Andover, NJ
October 12, 2016 3:55 pm
I am hoping you can help me narrow this down to a family. Pretty certain it’s a crane fly, although quite a bit smaller than what I’m accustomed to seeing. This one’s body was about 1/2-3/4 inch in length. I was only able to get one view of it before it took off. It had landed on some hostas, but our property is surrounded on 3 sides by woods (hickory, oak, maple, new growth).
Hope you help me out!
Signature: Deborah Bifulco

Crane Fly we believe

Crane Fly we believe

Dear Deborah,
We agree this is most likely a Crane Fly, and it reminds us of the members of the Liminid Crane Fly or Meadow Crane Fly family Limoniidae, though we didn’t find any images on BugGuide that look like your individual.  For now, we are posting it as unidentified and we will attempt to contact Dr. Chen Young who is a specialist in Crane Flies.

Thanks for getting back to me.  I, too, was thinking Limoniidae, but was also unable to find a match on BugGuide or elsewhere.  Hope your expert will be able to shed some light!

Subject: Crane Fly?
Location: Indiana, USA
June 4, 2016 11:24 am
This appears to be a some form of Crane Fly on side of house, June 2016, but cannot ID.
Signature: Kurt

Possibly Tiger Crane Fly

Possibly Tiger Crane Fly

Dear Kurt,
This is one of the Large Crane Flies in the family Tipulidae, and we believe it resembles this Tiger Crane Fly,
Nephrotoma eucera , that is pictured on BugGuide.