Crane Flies Are Back in Dallas

A crane fly | Image by Jackaranga/Penn Live

Spring has arrived in Dallas, ushered in not so much by the presence of wildflowers, hummingbirds, or butterflies but the swarms of crane flies.

Crane flies have made their annual appearance in the city, and this year they’re more abundant than ever.

Although crane flies are also referred to as the mosquito hawk due to their resemblance to everyone’s least favorite pest, the crane fly doesn’t bite.

This fragile, leggy insect that now-retired Texas A&M entomologist Mike Merchant called “among the gentlest of insects” feeds on nectar or on nothing at all.

They are typically found around streams and lakes, but during certain times of the year, they show up in urban areas, hovering around houses and doorways.

If you reside in green, suburban areas of Dallas, you have likely already encountered them, swept them from your windowsills, or heard complaints about them from your neighborhood.

Janet Hurley, an extension program specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, explained to Culture Map Dallas that the unusually warm and damp weather has led to the recent proliferation of crane flies.

“We’ve also had an unusual 2023, with spring bouncing in and out for a couple months. They usually show up during or right before spring break,” Hurley said, adding that now that they are here, the warm weather is likely here to stay.

If a crane fly does find its way into your home, you should try to carefully cup it and release it back outside, Merchant advised.

While their entire lifecycle from egg to larva to pupa to adult can take up to a year, the final stage only lasts 10 to 15 days.

The adult lives of crane flies are brief, but the adults spend their short lives doing one singularly important thing: mating.

Males mate with females on plants or in mid-air. A single female is able to deposit hundreds of eggs at a time, with small bodies of water or moist soil serving as an incubator for the larva and pupa to hole up and fatten up on leaves and roots for months until it’s their turn to propagate the following spring.

If this fate still doesn’t conjure any positive feelings for the gentle crane fly, just remember that it will soon give way to a much greater nuisance: the mosquito.

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1 Comment

  1. ThisGuyisTom

    Cool, timely and informative article.


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