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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Craneflies are Easily Mistaken

for mosquitos. One of the first things I noticed about this limoniid cranefly were the elongated mouthparts deceptively similar to those of a mosquito. Compared to the local mosquito talent, this creature was about the same size, but with much longer legs, lacking the mosquito's hunchbacked thorax, and notice how un-mosquito-like the huge halteres (knobby stabilizers on each side under the wings) and that elongated neck area are. Still, out of the corner of one's eye, one tends to pick up on the iconic mouthparts. The dead give-away that this was a cranefly, though (aside from DNA analysis) was that it had lost some legs as craneflies are likely to do. This one was vibrating, or bobbing, suspended by its two remaining legs from a spent lemon verbena flower spike. This fly looks very much like pictures of subgenus Geranomyia found on the Carnegie Museum site's cranefly page. The elongated mouthparts common to these species are used for nectar feeding during the short (just a few days) adult lifespan. And, they are known to "bob". Most of the descriptions I read of the larval habitats are aquatic or very moist, which does not generally fit our surrounding area so I'm not sure where they are breeding. Can't be too far away, though, as the adults seem to be weak fliers. Probably has something to do with the neighbor's leaking faucets because of course our faucets never leak.

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