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What insect is this?

This insect has been sitting on my window, completely motionless, all day. It is about 2in long in the body, probably around 5-6in if one includes the stretched legs. What is this? Does it sting or can I handle it safely, put it on a sheet of white paper to take a better picture?

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Comments

  1. #1 Coturnix
    October 7, 2008

    Just flew away. It is dusk here, so perhaps it is a nocturnal critter, sleeping through the day on my porch….

  2. #2 Susannah
    October 7, 2008

    Looks like a crane fly. They are totally harmless, and beautiful if you get a close view.

    And they’re usually pretty patient with cameras aimed at them from a few inches away.

    Compare yours with these: A trio of crane flies.

  3. #3 Coturnix
    October 7, 2008

    Look exactly like the picture on the bottom of your post. Very cool! Thanks.

  4. #4 John Peloquin
    October 7, 2008

    This is a Crane Fly fam. Tipulidae. They are harmless. The adults are short lived. At least some of their larvae are aquatic and pretty cool looking with a retractable head.

  5. #5 Jonathan Eisen
    October 7, 2008

    Get some cats. They are among the favorite organisms for my cats to play with as they are pretty robust to bapping and bopping around …

  6. #6 Coturnix
    October 7, 2008

    The fly was on the outside. Biscuit was quite excited on the inside…but I don’t let her out.

  7. #7 Kevin
    October 7, 2008

    Crane fly – absolutely. Out here in Oregon they call ‘em
    “Setter eaters” which is interesting as they don’t eat mosquitos. I have even heard people freak out thinking that they were enormous mosquitos. maybe we should start teaching entomology starting in grade school :)

  8. #8 Jonathan Eisen
    October 7, 2008

    Well Bora, you need to be a better cat daddy. When our cats were purely indoor cats (we adopted them from the local shelter and signed an agreement saying they would not be roaming outdoor cats), I used to go out every night with my net and I would collect bugs for them. Our girl cat (Annapurna) preferred moths. Our boy cat (Mallory) preferred crane flies (we called them mosquito hawks for reasons I am not sure of). Now I have bult an outdoor run for the cats so I do not collect bugs for them anymore. But it was quite fun, every evening, to go out and collect bugs, freak out the neighbors, and to “feed” the cats. Should I send you a net?

  9. #9 Jonathan Eisen
    October 7, 2008

    Well Bora, you need to be a better cat daddy. When our cats were purely indoor cats (we adopted them from the local shelter and signed an agreement saying they would not be roaming outdoor cats), I used to go out every night with my net and I would collect bugs for them. Our girl cat (Annapurna) preferred moths. Our boy cat (Mallory) preferred crane flies (we called them mosquito hawks for reasons I am not sure of). Now I have bult an outdoor run for the cats so I do not collect bugs for them anymore. But it was quite fun, every evening, to go out and collect bugs, freak out the neighbors, and to “feed” the cats. Should I send you a net?

  10. #10 EricJuve
    October 7, 2008

    I live on the coast in Oregon and this is about the only flying insect I get in my house. I was aware of them being called Sceeter Eaters but I never saw one eat a mosquito. Thanks for the info.

  11. #11 Mark Christal
    October 7, 2008

    Some people around here call these “mosquito hawks.” They are harmless to humans and mosquitoes. I’m familiar with their larvae, which look like fat segmented worms that live in healthy streams. In doing benthic macroinvertibrate sampling to assess the quality of water in streams, crane fly larvae are indicators of good water quality, as they are sensitive to pollution. They wouldn’t be present in polluted waters.

  12. #12 Todd Oakley
    October 8, 2008

    Funny that they call ‘em “mosquito eaters” here in Santa Barbara, too. My daughter was talking about “mosquito eaters” one time (she learned the name at preschool), and it took me a while to figure out what she was talking about. Where I grew up in WI, the [untrue, obviously] lore among some local kids there was that these are male mosquitos!

  13. #13 John Lynch
    October 8, 2008

    Back in Ireland they’re called “Daddy Long Legs” and used to come into the houses. I don’t recall every seeing any here in Arizona.

  14. #14 Robert Saunders
    October 8, 2008

    Definitely a crane fly. Here in the UK also called Daddy Long Legs. the common species here I believe develop as larvae in grass turf, and the larvae are know as “leatherjackets”.

    I think the adults don’t feed, so “moquito eater” is probably wishful thinking.

    Robert

  15. #15 Lassi Hippeläinen
    October 8, 2008

    Daddy Long Legs is a big mosquito? Never heard about that – but I’m not living in an English-speaking country. I always thought it is only a spider, maybe due to books by Tolkien.

    According to Wikipedia, the spider does eat mosquitoes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pholcus_phalangioides

  16. #16 bug_girl
    October 8, 2008

    I guess I’m a little late to say it’s a Crane fly.

    I can clear up the daddy long legs thing though.
    Things that are flies, spiders, and spider relatives, and they are all called Daddy long legs.
    ONLY the spider eats mosquitoes–the others are mostly plant eaters/scavengers.

    Additional relevant wiki pages:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crane_fly
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvestman

  17. #17 Laurent
    October 8, 2008

    Gonna play too: in France, these are called “cousins”, but I don’t know why.

    The Wikipedia English has some cool pictures and is explaining a bit about the poisonous urban legend(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crane_fly), while the French one has an impressive listing of species (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipula).

    I notice that your species is “closing” wings onto the body at rest while some other species aren’t… I wonder if this feature was selected as a taxonomic criteria in ID keys…

  18. #18 arby
    October 9, 2008

    Thanks, I knew the English called something daddy longlegs that wasn’t our (US) longlegs. Always wondered what it looked like. The Australians have one too, but I suspect it’s another critter altogether. rb

  19. #19 chris
    July 7, 2009

    Holy crap i leet these things fly around in my house thinking that they actually ate mosquitos lol. never again!!