“GIANT MOSQUITOES” ARE HARMLESS CRANE FLIES
By Chris Williams on May 29, 2017.
Lately, we’ve seen a couple of giant mosquitoes in our house! They’re at least two or three times the size of normal mosquitoes. So far no one has been bitten and they don’t seem very aggressive. How do you think they got in our house? D. H., Marblehead, MA
Here’s a good guideline: If they look too big to be mosquitoes, they’re probably not.
There are other groups of flies that look like mosquitoes but do not suck blood or harm people in any way. Chironomid midges are the flies most often confused with mosquitoes. These short-lived flies are about the same size as mosquitoes and can show up in swarms, which really alarms people (see Swarms of Mosquitoes Are Probably Harmless Midges).
THEY ONLY LOOK LIKE MOSQUITOES
But the really “giant mosquitoes” are usually harmless crane flies. They come in a range of sizes and styles but most look like mosquitoes on steroids. They have 6 VERY long legs, a pair of long wings, and a long skinny abdomen. It’s interesting how we humans learn that any fly with that classic profile means Danger! What crane flies don’t have is the long proboscis that a mosquito uses to suck blood, or nectar in the case of male mosquitoes.
Crane flies are sometimes called “mosquito hawks,” apparently because people believe they are predators on mosquitoes. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Some crane flies delicately sip nectar while others have no mouthparts at all. Each one is around for just a few days for mating purposes only. The larvae of crane flies are wormlike and live in damp places, or in ponds or streams.
THEY’RE ONLY VISITING
As for how the gentle giants get inside, I can never quite figure that one out myself. Apparently they are attracted to lights and sneak in when there’s an open door or window. They spend most of their time resting on a wall, legs spread out wide. They don’t seem to fly so much as slowly glide from place to place. Crane flies are harmless and if you can coax them back outside, all the better. They are very delicate and legs easily break off during handling. That doesn’t seem to bother them though, they can carry on just fine with several missing appendages.
It’s good to know that you’re on the lookout for mosquitoes. Our website has plenty of good information on how to prevent mosquitoes in your yard and how to protect your family from bites. Just type “mosquitoes” into the search bar at the top of the Blog home page.
Photo Credit : Pixabay