We had a client bring some crane fly larvae to the lab here in Birmingham this January. He was afraid they were going to eat his entire Bermuda lawn; he said there were “thousands” of them in the lower corner of his lawn by the culvert.
This would be an ideal habitat for the crane fly larvae also known as leather jackets.
Crane flies look like “pterodactyl mosquitoes” but they aren’t. They are flies like mosquitoes but are very different. They don’t bite, as a matter of fact as adults they don’t even eat; their main objective is to mate and reproduce it’s as simple as that. There are many different species of crane flies and they are almost impossible to tell apart, but they all live near some sort of water supply. Crane fly larvae are worm-like and ½ to 3 inches in length. They range in color from grey, to brown, to cream colored.
The aquatic species of crane fly lay their eggs in midair above the water and the larvae have tentacle looking spiracles on their heads that they stick out of the water to breath. They will live most of their lives in the water living and feeding on leaves and debris at the bottom of the lake or stream until the adult larvae crawl out to burrow into mud or soil. The terrestrial species are already there as their eggs are injected with their ovipositor into the mud or wet soil where they live and feed off decaying matter. Next they will become pupae (resting stage) before they slowly become adult crane flies and emerge in the spring. Most of the eggs hatch into larvae in the winter hence the many siting of them in January and February.
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