Pest Away Tips

7 Ways to Prevent and Control Crane Fly Infestations

Crane Flies: Separating Fact from FictionCrane flies are often confused with mosquitoes due to their similar appearance. However, these long-legged insects are completely different from mosquitoes.

This article will explore the characteristics of crane flies, their physical description, and debunk some common myths about them. By the end of this article, you will have a deeper understanding of these fascinating insects.

Identification of Crane Flies

Crane flies are insects belonging to the family Tipulidae. These insects have long, slender bodies, with legs and wings that are often longer than their body.

Unlike mosquitoes that belong to the family Culicidae, crane flies do not bite nor transmit diseases. They are often seen hovering around lighted areas or resting on vegetation.

Difference Between Mosquitoes and Crane Flies

Mosquitoes are known for their painful bites and their ability to transmit diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. In contrast, crane flies do not bite nor sting.

The only harm they cause is accidental damage to plants during their larval stage. Thus, it is important to differentiate between these two insects to avoid unnecessary panic.

Myth about Crane Flies Being Mosquito Eaters

Many people believe that crane flies are mosquito eaters, hence the name “mosquito hawk” or “skeeter eater.” This is a myth, as crane flies do not feed on mosquitoes. In fact, adult crane flies do not feed at all.

Their sole purpose is to mate and lay eggs before they die. It is essential to understand the feeding habits of an insect to prevent confusion and misunderstandings.

Physical Description of Crane Flies

Appearance of Adult Crane Flies

Adult crane flies have long, slender legs that are often in contrast with their bodies. Their wings are large, transparent, and sometimes have a shiny appearance.

Their wingspan can range from one to six inches, depending on the species. However, despite their delicate appearance, they are good fliers and are known to fly long distances.

Appearance of Crane Fly Larvae

Crane fly larvae are often called “leatherjackets” due to their tough, leathery appearance. They have a worm-like body with a bulging head that sports snout-like mouthparts.

The larvae are gray, greenish, or tan in color, and can be found in soil or water. They often feed on decaying vegetation, but some species can be pests of turf grass, causing damage to lawns and pastures.


In conclusion, crane flies are harmless insects that are often mistaken for mosquitoes. Knowing the difference between these insects is vital to preventing unwarranted fear and panic.

Additionally, understanding their physical characteristics and feeding habits will facilitate better appreciation of these fascinating insects. Thus, the next time you encounter a long-legged insect, remember to take a closer look, and it might just be a crane fly!

Diet and Behavior of Crane Flies

Crane flies, also known as mosquito hawks or daddy longlegs, belong to the Tipulidae family. These insects play a vital role in the ecosystem and are commonly found in moist vegetative habitats such as marshes, wetlands, rivers, and streams.

In this article, we will explore the diet and behavior of crane flies, shedding some light on their pivotal role in the ecological balance.

Diet of Crane Fly Larvae

The larvae of crane flies are known as leatherjackets, and they are commonly found residing in soil or water. They have a worm-like body with a bulging head that sports snout-like mouthparts.

Crane fly larvae are herbivores and feed on decaying vegetation, living plant parts such as leaves and grass blades. These insects are very beneficial to the environment as they contribute to breaking down and recycling organic matter, making nutrients available to plant communities.

Adult Crane Fly Feeding Habits

Unlike the larvae stage, adult crane flies do not feed at all as they lack functional mouthparts. However, they still play an important role in pollination.

Adult crane flies are known pollinators, and they feed on nectar, pollen, and sugary substances from flowers and other plants. These insects have a significant impact on the ecosystem as they facilitate plant reproduction and species diversity.

Lifestyle of Adult Crane Flies

The lifespan of adult crane flies is relatively short, with some species surviving for only a few days to a week. Their primary objective is reproduction, and their short lifespan is dedicated entirely to mating and laying eggs.

After mating, the female crane fly will lay her eggs on the ground, where they will hatch into larvae. Adult crane flies are often perceived as a nuisance due to their frequent activity around light sources, but they are essential in maintaining the ecological balance.

Habitat and Distribution of Crane Flies

Crane flies inhabit moist vegetative habitats, such as marshes, wetlands, rivers, streams, and woodland areas. These insects prefer moist soil, and their larvae can be found in habitats that have leaf debris or decaying vegetation.

They are found throughout the world, with the exception of Antarctica. Their presence is vital in maintaining the balance of many ecosystems across the globe.

In North America, crane flies typically appear in spring and summer, with the peak of their activity in early fall. In the United Kingdom, crane flies emerge from mid-August to early October, and the species commonly known as the “daddy long legs” is a familiar sight during this period.

These insects are also found in tropical regions, where they thrive in humid environments with dense vegetation.


Crane flies play a significant role in the ecosystem, and understanding their diet and behavior is crucial in appreciating their importance. As herbivorous larvae, they are vital in recycling nutrients in the soil, while their adult counterparts facilitate pollination.

Despite being perceived as a nuisance by some, their presence and activities are crucial in maintaining the balance of many ecosystems across the globe. Understanding their habitat and distribution can also aid in identifying their role within specific ecosystems, ultimately allowing us to appreciate and protect them better.

Life Cycle and

Reproduction of Crane Flies

Crane flies are an essential component of many ecosystems, where their larvae stage contributes to nutrient recycling in soil and water. However, their presence can be problematic, and certain species can cause significant damage to turf grass.

In this article, we will explore the life cycle and reproduction of crane flies and methods of preventing or controlling their population.

Life Cycle of Crane Flies

Crane flies undergo a complete metamorphosis, comprising four distinct stages egg, larval, pupal, and adult. The female crane fly lays 200-300 eggs, usually in moist soil or turf.

The eggs hatch into larvae, which are commonly called leatherjackets. The leatherjackets feed on plant roots, blades, and decaying vegetation in soil or water.

The larvae stage can last up to five years, with the population density varying by region and habitat. After the larvae stage, the leatherjacket pupates, and the adult crane fly emerges from the pupa.

Depending on the species, the adult crane fly can live anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The adult crane fly’s primary mission is to mate and lay eggs before dying, thus beginning the life cycle anew.

Reproduction of Crane Flies

Female crane flies lay their eggs in moist soil, turf, or vegetation. The eggs hatch into larvae, which can cause damage to turf grass by feeding on roots, inflicting water stress, and interrupting nutrient and water uptake.

Female crane flies tend to prefer laying their eggs in areas with moisture, making lawns and gardens prone to infestations. The ideal growing conditions of turf grass create the perfect environment for crane fly larvae to thrive.

The larvae thrive in moist soil and are most active in the spring and fall months. Females may lay eggs three to four days after mating, and the newly hatched larvae can cause significant damage to the lawn within weeks.

Prevention and Control of Crane Flies

Preventing crane fly infestations is critical in ensuring the health of your lawn or garden. There are a variety of ways to control and prevent crane fly populations, ranging from cultural methods to biological and chemical treatments.

Cultural Control Methods

The fundamental cultural control method consists of keeping a healthy lawn. This includes regular mowing, fertilizing, and watering while avoiding overwatering.

Overwatering creates a moist environment conducive to the larvaes growth. It is also important to improve drainage systems to eliminate excess water.

Biological Control Methods

Biological control methods involve the use of natural predators. One of the most effective biological methods is the use of nematodes.

These miniature worms live in soil and are safe for other organisms, including pollinators. Birds, frogs, and lizards are also effective predators of crane fly larvae.

Chemical Control Methods

Chemical control methods can be effective but should be used cautiously and according to the labeled instructions. Pyrethroid pesticides are often used to control crane fly populations.

These are effective in reducing the number of larvae, but they need to be applied during the winter months before the eggs hatch. These pesticides can also harm pollinators, so it is important to use them with caution.

Natural Ways to Control and Repel Crane Flies

Natural ways to control and repel crane flies are also possible. Mixing soap and water solutions and spraying your lawn can control the population.

Similarly, the use of garlic sprays or planting garlic, chives, and other natural insect repellents can be an effective way to repel crane flies. Essential oils like lavender, citronella, and clove oils can be mixed with water and used as a natural pesticide spray.


Effective prevention and control of crane fly populations require a combination of methods. There must be an understanding of their life cycle, and the means by which they reproduce.

By adopting cultural control methods such as keeping a healthy lawn, improving drainage systems, and using natural predators, crane fly populations can be kept under control. Related, chemical control methods should be used as a last resort and applied with caution due to their potential environmental impact.

Finally, adopting natural ways to control and repel crane flies can provide a safer and more environmentally friendly solution. By understanding each method’s strengths and limitations, an effective plan for preventing and controlling crane fly populations can be implemented, ultimately preserving the health of our lawns and gardens, and the ecosystem they are part of.

In conclusion, crane flies are fascinating creatures that play important roles in the ecosystem, but their presence can also cause damage to vegetation and lawns. Understanding their characteristics, life cycle, and reproduction methods is essential in implementing effective control methods.

Whether it be through cultural, biological, chemical or natural means, preventing or controlling crane fly infestations will benefit not only our lawns and gardens but also the broader ecosystem. By adopting effective prevention and control methods for crane fly populations, we can appreciate and protect these essential contributors to ecological balance.

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