Posted: Monday 20th October 2014 by The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust

Sunset over Samson. Ed Marshall

Many of you may have noticed the huge increase in the numbers of Crane Flies at this time of year. Darren Hart tells us a little more about these misunderstood creatures.

 

Adult crane flies are really abundant on the wing in Scilly at the moment, it's at this time of year when many confused crane flies end up in homes, often with a leg or two missing, and ultimately can end up caught in a spider's web, under a glass, under a newspaper or even as a meal for a Scilly shrew. Adult crane flies lives are very short lived. Often without feeding an adult crane fly, which somewhat resembles an oversized mosquito, will live around 10-15 days and will only have time to mate and lay its eggs. They are also known by some people as daddy-long-legs, not to be confused with daddy-long-legs that refers to harvestmen – crane flies have no fangs, no venom and don't bite – interestingly neither do harvestmen

There are about 300 species of crane fly in the UK. As the name suggests they are true flies and belong to the group Diptera. The larvae, known as leatherjackets, can be important for the soil ecosystem by processing organic matter and increasing microbial activity. The larvae and adults are also a good food source for many animals, such as insects, spiders, fish, amphibians, birds and mammals.

So next time you see a confused crane fly trapped somewhere it's not meant to be remember that it hasn't got very long to get all its important jobs done and maybe give it a helping hand out the window... it definitely won't bite.

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