Crane Fly vs. Mosquito: What s the Difference

Mosquito hawks, like mosquitoes, have long slender bodies with extremely noticeable long legs. Their spindly appearance distinguishes them from other flying insects.

They have long, thread-like antennae that protrude from their heads like ants.

A crane fly can live on average 10 to 15 days, while a mosquito’s lifespan is shorter. Male mosquitoes usually only live about a week, while female mosquitoes can hang in there longer than two weeks.

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“They seem to be hanging upside-down from the spider web, holding onto the threads of the web without being caught in it,” he said. “Behaviorally, I’d say crane flies aren’t super complex in comparison to even some other fly families, but there are a lot of these adaptations — including mimicry of ichneumonid wasps and other things — that really need study and will take somebody spending some time in the field and observing to figure out.”

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Mosquito hawks, also known as crane flies, primarily eat nectar and pollen. And contrary to common belief they dont eat mosquitos.

Adult crane flies are attracted to lights and often annoy residents when they fly into homes and bump against walls or ceilings. Although they look like giant mosquitoes, they do not bite people or feed on blood because they don’t have the sucking mouth parts that mosquitoes have. Mature crane flies only live up to two weeks, long enough to complete their reproductive cycle. Residents may see or observe dead adult crane flies on grounds around homes and buildings shortly after their lifecycle has completed.

“Some can sponge up liquids, such as dew and honey water, but we don’t see them do that much,” he said. “A number of them have independently evolved long mouthparts, and they’ll visit flowers to take up nectar.”

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However, if you don’t have a mosquito right next to the crane fly, it might be difficult to tell which one it is. The position of the insect’s body can help in this instance. A crane fly has a straight body and will rest with its wings out, while a mosquito is usually humped in form, thanks to its bent thorax, and keeps its wings folded.

The 15,000 or so known true crane flies in the family Tipulidae also share a somewhat similar appearance to mosquitoes. They have a narrow body with two long and slender wings, as well as six stilt-like legs that can be twice as long as the body. Crane flies are diverse in wing pattern, color, and size.

Gelhaus agrees. He took a rather serendipitous path to his study of crane flies, with an internship at the California Academy of Sciences that just so happened to involve these insects, and he has enjoyed every minute.

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The wingspan of mosquito hawks can vary depending on the species, but they generally have long and narrow wings that are held horizontally at rest. The wings are translucent brown or black and have prominent veins running through them.

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Crane Fly vs. Mosquito: What s the Difference

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As the name “long-legged fly” suggests, this large fly has extremely long legs, which can be two to three times the length of their bodies. These long legs are fragile and may be easily damaged.

Crane flies and mosquitoes also have different times when they are most active. Crane flies are nocturnal, and because they are attracted to light, you tend to see them weaving around outdoor lights. On the other hand, mosquitoes are crepuscular, so they get busy at dawn and dusk when sunlight is not as intense.

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