Saturday, March 14, 2015

Invasion of the Crane Flies!

It started a couple weeks ago - it seemed as though one of the plagues of Egypt had descended as swarms of mosquitos over 2 inches long arrived! Not only was Melinda freaking out, but even the cats were chasing the few that sneaked into the house. The local paper had a short article with an identification - they were Crane Flies, a harmless insect that appears in wet years. Since we've had a moist Winter and Spring, there you go! They certainly don't bite, and there is some discussions as whether or not they even eat during their 2 week life span.

But even though they are harmless, having these mosquito-looking bombers flying around your head sends you swatting...  Of course, I grabbed my macro lens and went a-hunting.  Fortunately they stop and rest occasionally.  At left is a shot showing the entire insect at our front door under our entry light.  The on-camera flash was used for illumination in all the images.  With the macro lens, I moved in near the closest-focus that resolved its compound eye at right.

One of the first images I took of the flies was through our sliding glass rear door. Viewing it from below at left, I noticed something interesting right away - it had a pair of stalks coming out of its abdomen near the wings, with little balls on them. They reminded me of the long poles that tightrope walkers use to maintain their balance. While the Wiki site above didn't identify the appendages, another site talking about crane flies in Texas identified them as halteres, which vibrate while in flight to provide a balance and guidance system - just what my first thoughts had been! In both this image and another on the front door from above (at right), they are quite apparent.

The wings are quite spectacular in close-up. They are gossamer-thin, almost transparent, yet have a stiffening structure embedded to strengthen them. They seem quite the marvel of engineering! While the adult insects only live a couple weeks at most, they do take a beating - note the wing close-up at left, which has suffered a puncture (marked with an arrow). Almost all careful wing examinations in my images showed similar tears and rips.

So they will be gone soon enough, but one of my nightly chores is still to dispose of the 6 or 8 that have managed to get into the house and gather around the lights in the kitchen and adjacent to the bed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

happy Pi day