The Crane Fly

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Crane flies often get a bad rap…they look scary, like oversized mosquitoes that want to suck your blood but the Crane fly is not a mosquito, it is in the family Tipulidae; a mild mannered creature which lives about 15 days and does not eat.
The adult Crane fly isn’t considered a pest; it’s the larvae that damages turf.

The adult Crane fly isn’t considered a pest; it’s the larvae that damages turf.

Crane flies are sometimes referred to as “Mosquito Hawks” believed to prey on mosquitoes but the adult Crane fly is anatomically incapable of killing and eating other insects. It basically becomes an adult just to breed. Because of their long legs, some people call them “Daddy Long-legs.” Adult Crane flies are attracted to lights, especially porch lights and may find their way indoors via an open door. The first thing you want to do when you see one of these flies is to smash it. They look that ominous but opening up the door and letting them out is the best way to deal with them. Otherwise, you may be denying birds or other wildlife of a meal. It’s the Crane fly’s larvae that can feed. The larvae are often considered pests for turfgrass and plants.

Crane Fly Larvae

Both larvae and adult Crane flies are valuable prey for many animals and insects. A Crane fly’s larva helps the soil’s ecosystem by processing organic material and increasing microbial activity.
Crane Fly Larvae AKA Leatherjackets

Crane Fly Larvae AKA Leatherjackets

However, larvae can become pests; in turfgrass, they cause brown patches with their constant feeding on roots and leaf blades. The larvae also feed on organic matter and on the roots of plants. Crane fly larvae are not such a problem in most inland areas; it’s the cooler and moist climates in which they thrive. Some species of Crane fly larvae are actually beneficial – by consuming aquatic insects and invertebrates including mosquito larvae. The nickname “Leatherjackets” is due to their tough skin.

Crane Fly Prevention

Crane flies need moisture in which to breed. The reduction of moisture around your home and property is the best way to deal with Crane flies.
Adult Crane flies don’t eat. Unlike mosquitoes, Crane flies don’t “want your blood!”

Adult Crane flies don’t eat. Unlike mosquitoes, Crane flies don’t “want your blood!”

Crane fly larvae hide under the soil and emerge in the spring. If you noticed birds pecking at your grass, you can check to see if there’s an infestation by digging up a square of grass then sifting through it to see if there are any larvae. Over-watering, leaky sprinklers, or heavy rains contribute to the population of Crane flies. Once an adult, there isn’t much you can do in the way of treatment other than fly traps on your porch, near the light. If the grass is infested, Hearts Pest Management can treat, similar to treating for grubs. Otherwise, keeping your property free from excess moisture is the best method for preventing Crane flies. Please call for a free inspection! You’re also welcome to complete the form below and a caring Hearts Pest Management representative will contact you shortly.


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