Friday, July 1, 2011

Giant Mosquitoes!

Actually they aren't giant mosquitoes.  They are Crane Flies (family Tipulidae) or Phantom Crane Flies (family Ptychopteridae).  They don't bite, and in fact many of them don't feed at all, or if they do, they feed on nectar from flowers.

They are related to mosquitoes, as well as flies, gnats, and midges, all in the insect order Diptera.  One of the distinguishing characteristics of this order is the one pair of "normal" wings and a pair of reduced, knobbed wings called halteres, which are fairly easy to see in the Crane Flies.  The halteres are thought to give the members of the fly order stability while flying, but Crane Flies seem to wobble around and bump into stuff a lot anyway.

They're harmless, but still a little creepy; they are biggish insects, resemble mosquitoes, and tend to hang out in damp, cobwebby places (which are inherently creepy to begin with).  These two were hanging out on some leaves, having what I presume to be the equivalent of a Crane Fly good time.