17 December 2009

Crane fly

Hanging around
Aotearoa/New Zealand has a particularly rich crane fly fauna, with roughly 600 endemic species. Often maligned as giant mosquitoes, crane flies (Family Tipulidae) do not bite people (nor other animals); some adults are nectar feeders but others do not feed during their short lives. The larvae live in diverse habitats including fresh water, soil and decaying vegetation.
This crane fly was hanging from the ceiling in my kitchen. The little structure apparently protruding from the back of its thorax, and looking like the head of a golf club, is one of the fly’s halteres. These are the vestigial second pair of wings (most adult insects have two pairs of wings); in true flies (Diptera), the second pair of wings has evolved into these structures, which help stabilise the insect while it’s flying.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor


Anne-Marie said...

I love your insect photos. You certainly make me see insects in a different way!

pohanginapete said...

Thanks Anne-Marie.It's good to be able to show others just how spectacular and fascinating these little animals really are.

christy lee-engel said...

I kind of love these crane flies! My mother calls them "mosquito eaters" and I remember seeing a lot of them growing up in California. Some, but not as many, here in Seattle in the summer.

pohanginapete said...

Hi Christy. I'd heard of that term for them, and I particularly like the colloquial version: "skeeter-eaters", even if it is misleading. As far as I know, it's not used here; most people just call them "daddy longlegs", which is confusing because it's also used for harvestmen and the spider Pholcus phalangioides.

Crane flies are fascinating :^)