Chances are you’ve seen those giant mosquito-like insects hovering around your yard or garden at some point.
No need to panic—those are most likely crane flies. They’re harmless to humans and actually beneficial to your surroundings.
Read on to learn why you should welcome these fascinating flies and how to attract them to your yard.
Crane flies serve a good purpose. Also known as mosquito hawks or daddy longlegs, they sometimes feed on nectar and pollen .
Apart from that, these adults normally don’t eat anything. They are those long-legged insects that look like giant mosquitoes.
However, their larvae, known as leatherjackets, feed on decaying plant material. Some species, like carnivorous crane fly larvae, feed on mosquito larvae.
Other species have aquatic larvae that provide food for fish and other aquatic meat-eaters. And still, others eat roots, shoots, and leaves in your lawn.
Other common names you might hear for these creatures include tipple (insect), Jimmy spinner, or gallinipper.
Are Crane Flies Harmful?
These insects are harmless to humans or pets and do not sting or bite. Despite their long legs and awkward flying, crane flies want nothing to do with people.
They are not aggressive insects and tend to avoid confrontation. Though they may seem intimidating, craneflies mean us no harm.
We have nothing to fear from these gentle giants peacefully flying through our yards and gardens.
The Benefits of Crane Flies
Crane flies are beneficial as they provide some environmental benefits. Though they can look menacing, they are harmless to humans and actually help control real mosquito populations.
1. Kill Mosquito Larvae
As mentioned, the larvae of some species feed on mosquito larvae, helping to naturally control mosquito populations.
By preying on mosquitoes in their larval stage, these mosquito eaters help reduce the number of mosquitoes that reach maturity and become breeding, biting adults.
2. Help Return Nutrients Back to the Soil
The larval stage of most species of crane fly in the world is spent in bodies of water, like rivers, lakes, or damp soil.
Adults (especially males) feed on nectar and are therefore pollinators.
And while they may help out with a little pollination , they are also an important food source for birds, bats, and other pollinators.
By attracting them to your yard, you’ll create a thriving ecosystem that supports natural pest control and pollination. With a few simple steps, you can transform your outdoor space into a crane fly haven.
How to Attract Crane Flies
To attract crane flies to your yard, create the ideal habitat and food sources they love. Here are some tips:
- Provide standing water. Crane flies need access to standing water to lay their eggs. A small pond, fountain, or rain barrel may work.
- Plant grass and flowers. The females also lay eggs in grass, lawns, and flowerbeds. So, let your lawn grow a bit longer and wilder to provide a habitat for crane fly larvae and pupae.
- Avoid pesticides. Crane flies are beneficial insects, so avoid using pesticides in your yard, which will kill them.
- Install outdoor lighting. These insects are often drawn to porch lights, lamp posts, and other outdoor lighting. Therefore, keep some lights on at night.
- Allow some areas of your lawn to remain damp at times. This will keep the soil moist, as the females also lay in damp soil.
- Supply decaying plant matter. Jimmy spinners are also lured to spots where there are decaying leaves, grass clippings, compost, and rotting wood to feed on.
Meeting crane flies’ basic needs for food and habitat creates an ideal environment for them. By following these simple steps, you may be successful in luring them to your yard.
Anything Else That’s Worth Knowing?
Crane flies are weak fliers and tend to bump into things.
They can find their way into homes through open doors and other openings. In that case, gently capture any indoor crane flies and release them outside.
Adult crane flies also have a short adult lifespan of only 10 to 15 days. During this time, their only goal is to mate and lay eggs. Females lay up to 300 eggs in their short lives.
Crane flies are found throughout most of the world, with over 15,000 different species . Though they vary in size, color, and specific habitat, they all share the same gangly, long-legged appearance.
Though adult crane flies themselves cause no harm, their awkward, gangly appearance can alarm some people. But by understanding the benefits of these fascinating flies and making your yard inviting to them, you may be rewarded with important pest control allies.
With all the benefits of crane flies and easy ways to attract them to your yard, why wouldn’t you want to roll out the welcome mat for these fascinating creatures? Go ahead and give them a chance. You will be thankful later.
Picture via Flickr