Spring in Colorado is truly one of the best things this state has to offer. 

While March is both Colorado’s snowiest and muddiest month of the year, April is really when things take full bloom

However, April is also a time where a common menace comes out in Northern Colorado; mosquitos. 

However, there’s another insect that looks just like a mosquito, but is in fact a very beneficial part of the ecosystem; crane flies.

Crane Flies Look Like Mosquitos, but Are Actually Harmless to Humans

neurovelho via Wikimedia Commons
neurovelho via Wikimedia Commons

Crane flies, more commonly called mosquito hawks, are intimidating looking, but are actually quite harmless. 

According to Colorado State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, crane flies are characterized by their long legs along with slim bodies with long legs. 

Due to their appearance, crane flies are commonly mistaken for mosquitos. However, you can tell the difference between crane flies and mosquitoes by a crane fly’s large size. 

On the other hand, another key difference is that crane flies are noticeably worse fliers than mosquitoes.

With all of this being said, they actually cannot bite humans. In fact, they can’t bite anything, due to a lack of a mouth. This also means that despite their nickname, mosquito hawks, they actually do not actually eat mosquitoes.

While Crane Flies Don’t Eat Mosquitos, They Do Serve an Important Environmental Purpose

Sanjay Acharya via Wikimedia Commons
Sanjay Acharya via Wikimedia Commons

 For adult crane flies, their life is relatively short. Essentially, their entire purpose is to mate. 

However, crane fly larvae can play a key role in helping local ecosystems. 

Their larvae live in bodies of water, and are what is known as detritivores, or animals that feed on dead plants and other organic materials. By breaking down organic material, they are helping add important compounds back into their ecosystem

Crane fly larvae also serve another important environmental role; feeding other animals. They serve as an early meal for many animals when food supplies are short. 

So if you ever see what looks like a large mosquito this spring and summer, remember to think twice before squashing it. You could be killing an insect that is important Colorado’s ecosystem.

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