Crane fly

Mount Union is no stranger to wildlife. Between all the birds, pets, rodents, and insects, the university has quite a wide range of animals that prowl within it. There is an insect, however, that has been popping up over the last week in numbers that I have never seen before. It has a long, slim body, with even longer legs. This insect is officially called the crane fly, but it has also been referred to as the “mosquito eater,” an odd moniker considering that, according to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, they don’t actually eat mosquitos. Crane flies can be seen in droves in many grassy areas of campus, specifically the Quad, the area by Eckler Garden in front of Elliott Hall, and the courtyard of the Union Avenue townhouses. Why are they here, and why are there so many of them? UCNAR goes on to compare the life cycles of crane flies to those of cicadas in that they emerge in large numbers for a short amount of time so that they can mate and lay eggs. The adult life span of the typical crane fly is very short. The director of Bohart Museum of Entomology, Lynn Kimsey notes that they only live for a few days. As can be seen by most Mount Union students, the crane flies take full advantage of their limited time. Left undisturbed, they can be seen latched onto blades of grass, but getting too close results in a small swarm of crane flies taking off and slowly flying away.The reason the crane flies are so abundant now versus any other time is that the ground is damper this time of year than it is in the summer. According to Britannica, crane flies try to lay their eggs in damp areas, which is likely why the bugs spend so much time in the grass: they are laying their eggs. When they are all done, the long, skinny bugs will all soon die out, and their eggs will hatch into larvae. The larvae spend the winter eating, resting, and growing. Come spring, they are all grown up and they fly around, ready to repeat the cycle of their ancestors. Until that time comes, don’t be too grossed out by all the harmless crane flies flying around. They’ll go away soon, just be ready to see more of them come spring. 

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