Weekly Puzzler Answer #69

acrane-Many people who see this insect think it is a GIANT mosquito! but this is not accurate. Did you recognize the wing? They are actually very intricate and even pretty, like a dragonfly wing. The insect it belongs to is actually  a Crane Fly. Like other members of the Diptera or fly family, crane flies have only two wings. Most other insects have 4 wings.

Amazingly, there are 14,000 species of Crane Flies worldwide! This makes them the largest family of all the flies. Know what’s cool about them? They start their life out in freshwater, as worm-like grubs that live along the bottom of the river, stream, pond or other body of water. As larvae, they look NOTHING like the adults they will become! A you probably know, butterflies and moths also have young that do not resemble the adults. This kind of metamorphosis is called complete metamorphosis–with 4 stages, those being egg-larva-pupa-adult.

Cranefly start their lives in water and look like this!

Cranefly start their lives in water and look like this!

Depending on the species, the larvae eat a variety of different things including algae, bacteria, even feces!, roots, vegetation and some are predators, feeding on other aquatic insects. As adults most don’t eat.

And even though they are big and may LOOK like mosquitoes, don’t worry, they won’t empty your child’s arm of blood and give her/him a welt the size of a small orange!

Unlike their smaller relatives, they don’t bite so you can rest easy when you see one near your home.

Crane flies mating.

Crane flies mating.

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