Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A crane fly stands on the hiking trail near Churchwood Drive.

July 10, 2014
Most crane flies don’t live long enough to eat their first meal as adult insects

Physically resembling mosquitos, the crane fly, also nicknamed “daddy-long legs,” grows up to two and a half inches, with a 3-inch wingspan. Although these insects are often mistaken for oversized mosquitos, crane flies are incapable of inflicting harm to humans.

Worldwide, crane flies ecologically serve as a major food source for animals. Because of their fast reproduction, adult crane flies are abundantly eaten by birds, insects, spiders, fish, amphibians and other aquatic predators. Larvae also provide small meals for skunks, moles, and water-life, while also helping the ecosystem’s soil by processing organic material and increasing microbial activity.

Like many insects, crane flies have four metamorphic stages; egg, larvae, pupae then adults. While crane flies are in their process of larvae and pupae development, their life is spent in the ground only with the intentions to eat and develop. After several months, crane flies that have fully metamorphosed into adults immediately depart in search of a mate. In most cases, crane flies will have successfully mated during the first 24 hours of their adulthood. The reason for this rapid development is because crane flies only live up to 15 days as adults, and it is their top priority to reproduce. As a matter of fact, most crane flies die without eating during their adult life. Those do dine on plant nectar and will only do so if they have already mated.

Interesting facts: Depending on the species, crane fly larvae can vary from eating roots, leaves or debris. Other species that are carnivorous devour mosquito eggs. A female crane fly can lay up to 100 eggs at a time. There are over 14,000 described species of crane flies.

 

Addie T. Lindsay is 17 years old and is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures, big and small. She can be reached at CritterChatter@Live.com.

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