I saw my first crane fly of the year before the cold hit this week. In my mind, that means spring is officially here. Crane flies have a bunch of different names that are mostly regional. Around here I hear people call them crane flies or mosquito hawks. Many people think they eat mosquitoes, but the adults either do not feed at all or feed on nectar. Some people think crane flies are a giant form of mosquito.
Adult flies are tan with very long legs. They are pretty delicate, and often you find them missing legs (see photo). Adults also have a V-shaped suture on their thorax. Larvae are a grayish-brown color and may be found in compost piles, in the soil or other moist environments. Larvae feed on decaying organic matter, but sometimes feed on the roots of plants.
Crane flies can be a nuisance pest indoors when they are attracted to porch lights and move inside when the door is opened. You can either capture the crane fly and move it back outside or try swatting it with a flyswatter or sucking it up with a vacuum hose attachment. Try using yellow bug bulbs in porch lights outside so the lights are less attractive to insects. You can also get a cat…mine loves to hunt and eat crane flies.