Bugged? Not to worry: Crane Flies are nature’s ‘gentle giants’

By Roberta Gibson

Have you seen some insects that look like giant mosquitoes recently? Seen strange “wasps” with long, thin legs hanging around your home?

My neighbors in the Kyrene Corridor have been reporting sights like these lately. But they are nothing to be concerned about. Those big, fragile insects are called Crane Flies, and they are the direct result of all the rain we’ve had lately.

Crane Fly adults are often over an inch long with two flimsy wings that they hold straight out from their sides when at rest.

Although their appearance is unusual, Crane Flies are truly gentle giants of the insect world. They don’t bite or sting. In fact, they do not even feed as adults. Their only interest is finding other Crane Flies.

The young Crane Flies are gray to brown, tube-shaped larvae, sometimes called Leatherjackets because of the leathery-looking covering over their bodies.

They are found in areas such as soggy compost heaps or piles of dead leaves in wet areas. The kind we have here feed on dead, decaying plants, releasing the nutrients and improving the soil. With all the rain storms we’ve had lately, the Crane Flies have had a lot to eat, so we have a lot more of them than in years past.

Because they are members of nature’s garbage-clean-up crew, Crane Flies are beneficial to us. So tip your hat to it next time you see a Crane Fly.