This Evening, A Bit Of True Weirdness

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

It’s spring in Arizona and this is the time of year when people report seeing gigantic mosquitoes.  Nope, those aren’t mosquitoes that people see, they’re Crane Flies.  Crane Flies are true flies and they are relatively enormous, with inch-long bodies and legs that may be two or more inches long.

They are truly weird.  They don’t bite and, in fact, it’s doubtful that most of these insects eat at all during their short, week-long adult lives.  They live for only one thing, and that is to reproduce.  Think of them as winged sex organs with guidance systems and you’ve pretty much nailed the description of these insects.

A Crane Fly is utterly ungainly looking.

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The individual depicted above is a female.  She emerges from her larval stage ready to reproduce, needing only a mate.  It’s uncertain what purpose those gigantic legs serve, but here’s the truly bizarre aspect of these legs: they’re “deciduous,” meaning that they come off easily.  That doesn’t seem to bother the fly one iota.  It’s not uncommon to see five- or even four-legged Crane Flies getting around without apparent difficulty.

The larvae are known as “leatherbacks” and they are ugly, brown, wormlike things that live in soil and eat decaying matter and, sometimes, plant roots. They are considered to be an agricultural pest when they are present in sufficient quantity to damage crops.

Mating is about the only thing that adults care about.  The two shown here are consummating their love.  Shortly afterward the female will lay her eggs and die.  As for the male, well, he just dies after sex.  I guess the moral of that story is that one must live for the moment.

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Both photos were made with a Canon 5Diii, 180 f3.5L Macro lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite.  I took the first photo at Sabino Canyon, the second in our back yard.  Both photos were taken at ISO 125, M setting.  The first was made at f14 @ 1/160, the second at f16 @ 1/160.


One response to “This Evening, A Bit Of True Weirdness”

  1. Liesl Kii says :

    I must admit this is my first view of Crane Flies mating!

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