M. Caulder, Cranefly

Watercolor sketch of a male crane fly (mosquito hawk) by M. Caulder.

Crane Fly aka “Mosquito Hawk”: Since we’re seeing these little critters everywhere, I took a photo of this one (he was on my shower wall). Turns out they are quite interesting. They aren’t related to mosquitos and they don’t eat mosquitos. They don’t bite, and the species that do eat only drink flower nectar. They have finger-like appendages at the end of their “snout” called maxillary palps. These are used to help them sense their environment. They have lovely fern-like antennae called flagellomere (so tiny that you can only see them under magnification). And one of the most interesting things about them is, instead of two back wings, they have halters. Halters are like tiny gyroscopes that help to guide their flight. They have compound (mosaic-like) eyes so they can track fast movement. This one is a male, with small pincers at the end to grasp things. How interesting is this creature! Looking at insect wings makes me think this must be where the idea for stained-glass windows originated.

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