Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

Crane flies

A crane fly.

Every year about this time, around the first of spring, crane flies start to show up. Many folks call these long legged, mosquito-looking insects mosquito hawks. But crane flies will not eat mosquitoes or bite humans or anything else for that matter. In fact, adult crane flies do not eat much of anything, rarely just a bit of nectar, and only live for a few days.

Adult crane flies love light, just as June bugs do. Crane flies will hover near outdoor lights and windows. They will also unintentionally enter homes and buildings looking for lights. You may have discovered crane flies in your home dancing around like crazy helium balloons bouncing off your walls and ceilings. I think many humans dislike them mainly just because of the large numbers of them that hang out together.

A crane fly’s adult life is mainly for reproducing, as with most insects. After mating, the male fly soon dies, and the female starts laying her eggs and then she dies. When the eggs soon hatch this larval stage of the crane fly looks similar to a small, brown grub worm. They are often called leather jackets due to their appearance.

This larval stage of the crane fly does have chewing mouth parts that are primarily used to feed on decomposing organic matter. They can devour rotting wood and different types of organic litter found on the ground.

Crane fly larvae make tasty meals for many types of insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and even fish. They also make good fishing bait.

So crane flies do have a purpose on the planet even though we find them very annoying at times. The good thing is they hibernate all fall and winter, and when they wake up in the spring, the adults are usually only around for a couple of weeks.

Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

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Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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