You’ve heard the adage that everything’s bigger in Texas, right? I mean, who hasn’t!
So along those lines, here’s a quick introduction to the Texas mosquito. It’s larger than any you’ve ever seen: a wingspan up to three inches (7.5 centimeters), a body up to two inches (five centimeters) long, and legs that stretch over five inches (12.5 centimeters) across.
How’s that for big!
Imagine the amount of blood that thing could drain from you. In fact, they make for convenient air travel because you can toss a saddle on one and ride it across the state faster than you can get through an airport, onto a plane, in the air, and to your destination.
But I jest, of course, for this is not a mosquito at all, yet this creature’s undeniable resemblance to those bloodsuckers has earned it that very moniker… among many others, such as mosquito hawks (because it’s wrongfully thought they hunt and eat mosquitoes, which they don’t), daddy long-legs (which is actually a nickname in the U.S. for a harvestman in the order Opiliones [note daddy longlegs are not spiders]), and galnatchers (don’t ask). They’re also called many other things, and you can even find some who wrongfully call them mayflies because of the time of year they normally make an appearance.
Despite their mosquito-ish looks and daunting size, they’re not harmful.
This particular specimen is, I believe, a giant western crane fly (Holorusia rubiginosa), although I could be terribly wrong in that identification. Insects tend to be harder for me to name scientifically because there are so many of them, and far too many of them look alike but are slightly different in obscure ways. To make matters worse, there are at present at least 14,000 species of crane flies, so you’ll excuse me if I’ve misidentified this little beast.
I’m also guessing that this one is a female… and I’m not entirely confident in that guess.
Most people know crane flies because they tend to be rather clumsy in the air, seen bouncing off obstacles and generally looking as though they haven’t a clue what to do once in flight. They wobble uncontrollably and look to be on unpredictable courses.
If you’ve ever tried to catch one, you know precisely how fragile they are. Their legs break off with very little effort—sometimes without direct contact—yet it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to nab one. Again, they don’t fly very well. That makes them easy pickings if you’re intent on a closer look.
I found this one hanging out on one of the patio’s window screens. It sat quietly while I snapped a few photos. But once I got a little too close, it scrambled off in ungainly, awkward flight as it attempted to find its way to… well, to somewhere. I doubt it even knew where it was going or how to get there.