Crane Fly vs Mosquito: How to Spot

When spring comes, many insects start to emerge from their long sleep during winter. Many people argue if a crane fly vs a mosquito is a problem in a house since these two species look awfully similar. Nevertheless, you don’t need to worry about one of them; I will explain all their specs in this guide.

Guide on Various Flying Insects

A tipple insect and a mosquito are often mixed up, and here are the things that set them apart:

    • Crane flies (aka tipple insects) don’t bite;
    • A crane fly’s body is straight, while a mosquito’s body is humped;
    • Crane flies are usually about 3 times bigger than mosquitoes.

Similarities between crane flies and mosquitos

Mosquitoes and crane flies (commonly referred to as tipple insects or daddy longlegs) look so similar at first glance that many people ask themselves “are crane flies mosquitoes?” However, if you know that a tipple insect isn’t just an oversized mosquito, you’ll be able to quickly spot all the differences between the two.

mosquito on leaf

Differences: crane fly vs mosquito

Mosquitoes are much smaller than tipples, so this feature can give you a hint. Then you need to look at their stance: crane flies don’t fold their wings when they rest on a wall, while mosquitos keep their wings close to the body.

It is certainly scary to see an allegedly big mosquito fly around your living room, but it might be a crane fly. These insects are not dangerous to people or pets as they don’t eat during their mating season. Crane-fly size can reach from 1 to 2 inches, which is pretty big for a regular insect, but despite their appearance, they are in your house only by accident. Crane flies are attracted to bright light, so if your window is open in the evening, they can fly in trying to get closer to the light source.

Mosquitoes barely reach 0.4 inches, so it is difficult to spot them. Their presence can be also identified by the appearance of small itching bumps on your skin – the results of their bites. Mosquitoes, females to be precise, feed on the blood of humans and animals, and their poison causes very annoying itching. In addition, mosquitoes have prolonged needle-like mouths they use to puncture the skin of their victim.

When do they emerge?

Mosquitoes and cranes have similar lifecycles, but some main differences make them separate. In late spring, both of them emerge from larvae that live in moist places or ponds. Mosquito larvae feed on algae and bacteria that surges the top layer of the water source, then it goes through the pupa stage and eventually becomes an adult organism. Crane-fly larvae have about the same habits, but sometimes they can be found in grass or turf, as they are considered an important part of the soil ecosystem, processing organic matter.

mosquito larvae in water

What do they eat?

An adult mosquito crane lives from 10 to 15 days, and the only goal it has is to reproduce. They don’t eat and only fly across the land looking for a potential mate. That’s why they can end up in your house by mistake, as most species are nocturnal and can be attracted by a bright light.

Female mosquitoes are larger and need to feed on blood during the breeding season to produce enough material for the upcoming eggs. They are the main reason why you get so itchy at night. Male mosquitoes are small and feed on nectar: they are not a threat to anyone, flying in little swarms.

What are they attracted to?

Crane flies are attracted to bright light, which causes them to enter your house if you don’t have mosquito nets on your windows. This can be fairly annoying, especially if you aren’t aware of the fact that crane flies are completely harmless.

Just like crane flies, mosquitoes are also attracted to light, which allows them to get closer to you. Once they enter your vicinity, they become aware of the CO2 that you exhale and draw near. After that, mosquitoes are guided by smell, which is why some people get bitten a lot, while others aren’t even aware that mosquitoes are buzzing nearby.

It seems that blood type is the deciding factor of whether you will get bitten or not. People with O blood type are bitten a lot more frequently than people with other blood types. Drinking beer and being pregnant also decreases your chances of escaping unscathed.

mosquito lamp in dark

Are they harmful?

Mosquitoes can be extremely dangerous. They are the transmitters of highly deadly diseases like malaria, dengue, Zika virus, and many more. The viruses or invasive bacteria can get into your body through the bite and spread around the blood vessels. Usually, malaria parasites are found in the digestive system of female mosquitoes.

Moreover, some people can be allergic to mosquito bites, causing asphyxia and big rash, so it is always better to watch out for these insects.

How to keep them away?

As mosquitoes are a bigger problem, it is logical to deal with them first. You might have heard about special diffusers supplied with compounds that scare off these insects. You can use natural repellents like plants which produce essential oils, having a negative effect on mosquitoes. They are lemongrass, citronella, mint, and rosemary. To cope with mosquitoes, you can use special sprays that will cover your skin with a thin layer of repellent so that they don’t dare to bite you. You can install an electric mosquito killer in your garden if you are worried about swarms of them flying around near your property.

You can get rid of crane flies by closing all of your windows at night or installing a special net that will prohibit them from flying into the house. Because they are attracted to light, it is better to use smaller sources of it like table lights when it is dark outside.

green lemongrass plants

Crane Fly vs. Mosquito: Frequently Asked Questions

There are some similarities between crane flies and mosquitos, which is why people often mix them up. Here are the most common questions that I frequently get asked.

Do crane flies eat mosquitoes?

No, adult crane flies don’t eat in general. Their larvae feed on turf and grass.

Are crane flies poisonous to dogs?

Crane flies are completely harmless since they only eat nectar and plants. They don’t bite any animals, so you can be sure that your dogs are safe.

Are Daddy longlegs and crane flies the same thing?

Yes, these are two names that refer to the same insect. However, if you live in Australia, Daddy longlegs is an extremely venomous spider, so you better not confuse the two.

Are crane flies mosquitoes?

No, crane flies belong to a different family. They only carry similar visual characteristics to mosquitoes.

Know Your Insects

It is crucial to understand the peculiarities of insects that appear in your house. Crane flies and mosquitoes can look similar, but crane flies are harmless to humans, so it is important to spot whom you are dealing with. Take care of your environment and kill only those insects that invade your space with the intent to bite you.

Do you know any other insects similar to mosquitoes? Have you dealt with crane flies in your house? Please, comment below, and share this article if you like it.

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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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