|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Crane flies (Tipulidae) are a family of insects resembling giant mosquitoes. Like the mosquito, they are in the order Diptera (flies). They have numerous other common names, many of them more or less regional, including, mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters (or skeeter eaters), gallinippers, and jimmy spinners. In the UK they are commonly referred to as daddy long-legs, but this name can also refer (especially in the US) to two unrelated arthropods: an arachnid known as Opiliones, and the cellar spider (Pholcidae).|
In appearance crane flies seem long and gangly, with very long legs, and a long slender abdomen. The wings are often held out when at rest, making the large halteres (balancers) easily visible (also visible on house flies). Unlike mosquitoes, crane flies are weak and poor fliers, with a tendency to "wobble" in unpredictable patterns during flight, but can be caught without much effort. However, it is very easy to accidentally break off their delicate legs when catching them, even without direct contact. This may help them to evade the birds who pursue them as prey.
Temperate species range up to 60 mm in size, while tropical species have been recorded at over 100 mm . The females have swollen abdomen (because of eggs held inside) in comparison to the males. The female abdomen also ends in a pointed ovipositor that looks a bit like a stinger.
Despite their common names, crane flies do not prey on mosquitoes, nor do they bite humans. Adult crane flies feed on nectar or not at all; most crane fly species live only to mate and die once they become adults. Their larvae, called leatherjackets or 'leatherjacket slugs' because of the way they move, consume roots (such as those of turf grass in backyard lawns) and other vegetation, in some cases causing damage to plants. Therefore the crane fly is occasionally considered a mild turf pest in some areas. Some leatherjackets are aquatic.
The long legs are an adaptation to allow the fly to alight in grassy places.
At least 14,000 species have been described (most of them, 75%, by the specialist Charles P. Alexander), making Tipulidae the largest family of Diptera. The Giant Crane Fly (Holorusia rubiginosa) of the 'West' (Western United States) can reach 38 mm (1-3/8 inches). Some Tipula species are 64 mm (2-1/2 inches). There are many smaller species (known as bobbing gnats) that are mosquito-sized, but they can be distinguished by the V-shaped suture on the thorax and a lack of ocelli. They are the food source of many birds.( in Wikipedia)
Alex99, oscarromulus has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.