Adult crane flies, sometimes called mosquito hawks, are black, red or yellow in color, depending on species. Crane flies may be mistaken at times for mosquitoes, but they are significantly larger with extremely long legs and never feed on blood.
Crane fly wings may be transparent, brown, grayish-black or brownish-yellow. Some crane flies rest with extended wings, while others fold their wings flat. The faces of adult crane flies are elongated.
Female crane flies have extended abdomens, which house eggs and are capped with an ovipositor. Although these ovipositors appear similar to stingers, they are harmless and are only used for reproductive purposes.
Crane flies lay their eggs in the ground, where larvae feed on decaying wood and vegetation. Their feeding behaviors may damage plant roots. Adult crane flies prefer to dwell in wet, mossy, old and open woodlands. Crane flies survive for several days, with most species living only long enough to complete the reproductive cycle.
Common names for crane flies include jimmy spinners, mosquito hawks, mosquito eaters, mosquito nippers, gollywhoppers and gallinippers. Although they are known as daddy long legs in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand, they are not at all similar to the arachnid that goes by the same name in the United States.