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The perils of being a Crane Fly

October 5, 2020
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A walk through the long grass at the moment should disturb clouds of Crane Flies (pictured left). Unlike dragonflies, damselflies and scorpion flies, Crane Flies are true flies i.e. they are two-winged Dipterans. These slow flying long-legged insects are short-lived, up to a couple of weeks, so short-lived that some species do not even possess mouthparts for eating and drinking and the female fly emerges from the pupa stage already containing eggs for the next generation. Despite their short lifespan, many Crane Flies do not even reached that potential as their lives filled with dangers.

For a start their long legs mean that Crane Flies are often mistaken for mosquitos and being a slow flyer many cranefly/human interactions often do not end well (for the Crane Fly). But nature also throws up a number of other hazards. Crane flies are the prey of fish, birds, mammals and other insects. Spiders are also natural predators, not only those that build webs but also Jumping Spiders (pictured below) that have the ability to leap out and ambush the unwary.

It is not just the local fauna that can end the life of a Crane Fly prematurely. Local flora in the form of Tall Sundews (Drosera peltata) can also lead to a sticky end if you are a Crane Fly. The long dangling legs are prone to get snagged on the tentacles of this carnivorous plant (see below).

I’ve heard of the saying ‘Live fast, die young’. For Crane Flies ‘Live slow, die younger than the short life span you already have’ seems apt.

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