The collective imagination of humankind envisions animals to be big and in most cases to be mammals. However, insects, in fact, make up a population of about 10 quintillion. So, it's worth understanding more about the different species in this class of animals.
In this article, we will learn about the intriguing creature that is the Crane fly. Crane fly is the common name that has been given to insects that belong to the family Tipulidae. The crane flies are often referred to as 'Daddy long legs' or 'mosquito hawk'. While they resemble mosquitoes, they are not as harmful in any meaningful way. There are about 15,000 crane fly species. As crane fly larvae, they are voracious eaters as they feed on decaying wood and vegetation like algae and microflora. Surviving only for days as adult crane flies, its purpose is to seemingly mate before dying. While they are harmless to humans directly, they can be pests to crops. Thus, pest management is an important service where their population is out of control. Having been around at least since the Barremian stage and being found in every part of the world from tropics to temperate regions, it is a shame that we know very little of these creatures. Read on to learn more Crane fly facts for kids and even a few phantom crane fly facts.
These insects belong to the class of Insecta within which they form the family Tipulidae.
How many Crane Flies are there in the world?
The exact population of crane flies is hard to ascertain with around 15,000 species that are divided into 525 genera.
Where does a Crane Fly live?
Crane flies can be found near water bodies in temperate and tropical regions of the world.
What is a Crane Fly's habitat?
Crane flies rely on water as part of their life cycle and can often be found near brackish, marine, or freshwater sources. The Crane fly prefers to stay underground in moist soil. Encompassing so many species, there is diversity in their habitat too. The DolichopezaCurtis adopt the wet cushions of mosses as their habitat. Apart from moist soil and mosses, the Ctenophora meigen species can be found in woods that are decaying and Tipula Linnae can be found in arid soils of lawns or pasturelands.
Who do Crane Flies live with?
Crane flies lay their eggs in close proximity to each other and thus at the larval stage they are not too far away from other Crane fly larvae. As an adult Crane fly, their days are numbered and that time is spent looking for a mate, before its imminent death.
How long does a Crane Fly live?
A Crane fly adult can live about 10-15 days, while the larva can live between a few weeks and up to one entire year.
How do they reproduce?
Adult Crane flies have the singular focus of their life to reproduce. In fact, the female Crane fly as it emerges from its pupa has eggs that are already fertilized so that no time is wasted to reproduce. During summer months, the female adult crane flies lay eggs in grass, pastures, or vegetation. When the eggs hatch, the crane fly larvae that emerge from the eggs have a slug-like look with a tough outer skin which gives them the nickname 'leatherjackets'.
What is their conservation status?
There are over 1500 species in this family, which have their own challenges and environments. Thus, there is no one conservation status label that can be applied to the Crane flies. Although, in general, most crane fly species seem to be doing alright and are not in any threat of extinction. As a whole, they are termed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.
Crane Fly Fun Facts
What do Crane Flies look like?
The Crane flies have really thin bodies that resemble the body of a mosquito, which is paired with long legs and abdomen. These insects vary in colors that range from yellow, brown to gray. Their snout or rostrum is short which has a point that looks like a beak called nasus. In their larva stage, these insects are long, sluggish, cylindrical, and have tough outer skin. The Crane fly larvae can be brown or tan in color. There is a species by the name of phantom Crane fly that has a black and white sheath close to the tips of their legs, which appear and disappear (like a phantom) in lowlight conditions.
How cute are they?
Being an insect, they are so small that it is unlikely that anyone will recognize these creatures as cute.
How do they communicate?
Female crane flies are known to vibrate to spread the scent of their pheromones to attract prospective male mating partners. In addition, they also make a buzzing sound that is close to that of a housefly.
How big is a Crane Fly?
Crane flies are bigger than mosquitoes with their length measuring between 0.3-1.5 in. They are about three times as big as mosquitoes.
How fast can Crane Flies move?
These insects do not have the fastest speeds, but are adept flyers with a pair of wings that are marbled, and black and white in color.
How much does a Crane Fly weigh?
Being insects, their weight is not significant on scales that humans can comprehend easily. They are heavier than mosquitos but still have negligible mass.
What are their male and female names of the species?
Male and female Crane flies do not have any unique names.
What would you call a baby Crane Fly?
Baby Crane flies are called larvae.
What do they eat?
In its larval stage, the Crane fly species have a great appetite and feed on decaying wood and vegetation like grass and field crops. Some species of Crane fly are known to be carnivores that prey on mosquito larvae and other small insects. In stark contrast, as adults these insects eat almost nothing (feeding on nectar only) and focus efforts on mating before they die.
Are they harmful?
In some parts of the world, Crane flies are considered to be pests. An example of this is the United States, where they have become invasive. Although they do not bite humans and cannot transmit any disease, unlike mosquitoes, they are pests to turf, field crops, and pasture grass. Thus, the answer to whether you should kill a crane fly depends on whether it's causing harm. In isolation, they are harmless and do not need to be killed.
Would they make a good pet?
With a lifespan of just 10-15 days as adult Crane flies, it is hard to keep these insects as pets.
Did you know...
The Crane fly larvae can actually serve as an important element in the upkeep of the soil ecosystem. The larvae do so by increasing the organic content of the soil and in general increasing the microbial activities in the soil. They also serve as part of the larger ecosystem where they serve as reliable prey to animals like spiders, fish, frogs, and birds.
Crane Fly bites
A Crane fly bite is almost a misnomer as these insects, although look like big mosquitoes, do not actually bite. There is in fact a myth that their venom is the deadliest in the world, which does not make sense as the insect does not even bite to begin with, let alone bite with venom (which also is obviously not there).
Crane Fly vs. mosquito
Mosquitos measure at just 0.3-0.5 in compared to 1-1.5 in long like the Crane fly. Crane flies have a V-shaped body that is paired with long slender legs which makes them unstable fliers in contrast to the agile mosquito. As opposed to the mosquito, Crane flies do not spread any disease and are, in general, harmless to humans. Crane flies are incorrectly labeled as 'mosquito eaters' or 'mosquito hawks' as they do not hunt or eat mosquitos. In fact, as adult Crane flies, they don't eat anything at all.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including paper wasp, or Africanized bees.
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