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Mosquito Eater, Or Is It?

Mosquito Eater or Crane Fly
Okay so we usually call these guys “mosquito eaters”. It is actually a crane fly or scientific name: Tipula paludosa.

They look like giant mosquitoes and this one found its way into my son’s workshop. He sat very still while I took a few photos and then with the magic of cropping, it really shows what he looks like.

This is from Wikipedia:
Numerous other common names have been applied to the crane fly, many of them more or less regional, including, mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters (or skeeter eaters), gallinippers, gollywhoppers, and jimmy spinners.”

I was visiting my dad last week and we had a conversation that went something like this:
“Dad, you know those bugs we call mosquito eaters?”
“Well, I just learned that they are actually called crane flies.”
“You know those big flying bugs we see in the house, they are really big flies and they don’t eat mosquitoes at all.”
“Mosquito eaters, they are mosquito eaters.”

Oh well, he can call them mosquito eaters. 🙂

More information from UC Davis’ website:
“Adult crane flies emerge from the soil beneath turfgrass, pastures and other grassy areas in late summer and fall. The adults have very long legs and resemble large mosquitoes. Females mate and lay eggs in grass within 24 hours of emerging. Eggs hatch into small, brown, wormlike larvae that have very tough skin and are commonly referred to as “leatherjackets”. The leatherjackets feed on the roots and crowns of clover and grass plants during the fall. They spend the winter as larvae in the soil; when the weather warms in spring, they resume feeding. During the day larvae mostly stay underground, but on damp, warm nights they come to the surface to feed on the above ground parts of many plants. When mature, the larvae are about 1 to 1-1/2 inch long. Around mid-May they enter a nonfeeding pupal stage and remain just below the soil surface. In late summer, pupae wriggle to the surface and the adults emerge. There is one generation a year.”

More Nature Study #4 Cover image

5 thoughts on “Mosquito Eater, Or Is It?

  1. I probably should not tell you this, but these guys make a good meal for our mantis. They are easy for my boys to catch. We had a ton in our yard probably because we also had mosquitoes when it finally rained.

  2. Thanks for the fun post! I just googled “mosquito eater” to try to find out what this thing really was and got right to your description.

  3. It may have gotten its name from the fact that crane fly larvae sometimes feed on mosquito larvae. But anyone wanting to control mosquitoes in their area shouldn’t rely on these, and should get a trap, like a Mosquito Magnet. From what I’ve read, they are quite effective.

  4. In far northern Canada these insects are common. The local people, Inuit, would call them dragon flies if they were to describe them in English. I’ve always called them mosquito eaters but vaguely knew them as crane flies. I’ve seen them far above the arctic cirle. We also have teh biggest bumble bees that you ever die see.

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