Texas-sized Mosquito or Crane Fly?

I am writing to let you know to RELAX. It’s ok. This large Texas-sized creature is actually called a Crane Fly.

crane fly matingMay is the time of year when the weather finally warms up and people start enjoying the outdoors again. Until, one night, along comes a giant pre-historic looking mosquito. It lands on the plant next to them and complete chaos follows. Parents call the children, grab the dog, run inside and slam the door shut. Certainly, this creature would suck the life-blood out of everyone in the family. But wait! This is not a mosquito! The good news is that this insect is a harmless crane fly and there is no need for alarm. They do not bite or sting at all.

They are called many things, including mosquito hawks, which actually refer to the dragonfly that feeds on mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the crane fly does not feed on mosquitoes. Nor do they bite. In fact, the adult crane fly does not feed at all. The larvae, referred to as “leatherjackets”, stay primarily underground. The larvae have chewing mouth parts and they prefer to feed on decomposing organic matter such as roots, leaves, wood on the forest floor, and soil in lawns and pastures. On warm, damp nights they will come above the soil surface to feed on plant material. In mid-May they enter the non-feeding pupal phase just below the soil surface and shortly thereafter emerge from the soil as adults.

My friend, Joel, captured the photo above of two crane flies mating. When they emerge as adults, their job is to mate and then deposit their eggs into the soil. Their lifespan is, on average, a couple of days.

All creatures have an important beneficial role to our ecosystem. In addition to serving as decomposers, the crane fly is an important food source for bats, birds, frogs, lizards, spiders, and other insects.

Crane Fly - Food source Even though they are not harmful, crane flies in large numbers can be quite a nuisance. Sometimes when you walk through or mow the grass the crane flies seem to swarm out. They may land on your clothing, hair, or face and cause you to do a dance that would rival anything Miley Cyrus does on stage. Right there in your front yard. (Gasp!)

What can be done to control the crane fly???

There are a few non-chemical things that can be done to help prevent the crane fly from entering your home. For one, Crane flies are attracted to light inside the house. So, at night some may fly in through an open door or window. You will usually find them flapping on a lamp shade or on the wall and that can be frustrating, too. Check all of the screens on the windows and doors of your home and make sure there are no holes or tears. Repair or replace any screens that are damaged. This will also help prevent other insects from entering your home. Also, you can reduce the number of exterior lights that you have on at night or else replace the regular bulb with one of the bug lights that emit a yellow color. The yellow bug bulb is not as attractive to the bugs that fly toward the light. I know the yellow bulbs are not nearly as attractive as the others, but neither is that giant black mark on your wall where you smacked a crane fly with the mail on your counter. ūüôā

Because of the short life span of the adult crane fly there is not a product that we can use to effectively manage them in or around your home. And, honestly, their lifespan as an adult is so short, many of them would die naturally before the spray would have a chance to do it’s job. ¬†Sadly, we are limited to educating you on this pest nuisance and to let you know that this will pass very soon. If you have any additional questions or concerns then please contact our office at The Bug Man ¬†in Murfreesboro¬†at 615-217-7284.

Indian Meal Moths: Silently Lurking in the Kitchen

Nothing makes me shudder more than the thought of indian meal moths in my food pantry. We all have our bug fears & rants. Mine happens to be this evil little time gobbler of an insect that invades our food. This particular blog is personal for me, today. If you have not heard or experienced indian meal moths before then you will want to definitely read on.

Where are all of these moths coming from???

This will be the first thing that you say. Indian meal moths seem to come from nowhere. In the beginning it’s one here or there. After a couple of days it’s three or four. The next thing you know… they’re everywhere! ¬†Indian Meal Moth

They struck our family last summer when we were in the middle of a family emergency. We had to travel to and from Tennessee for weeks on end. It’s almost like they sensed that we had no time to find the exact source of the problem. If you can find the source of the problem quickly then you will avoid the pantry crisis. We did not have the time to look at every item in the pantry like we KNEW we should do. We opened a few items like cereal, corn starch, flour, dog food, and nuts. We found several infested foot items and considered the matter finished.

How long do indian meal moths live?

The larvae of indian meal moths can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days to hatch. An adult will live anywhere from 5 to 25 days. Of course, this is all depending on the environmental conditions. In my book, 5 minutes is too long.

The indian meal moths continued to flutter about my kitchen for days on end. The problem was becoming worse by the day. Until finally, I said enough is enough. I’m tearing apart the pantry!! ¬† Well, I found the nasty culprit. It was a lovely tin of popcorn from Christmas (thanks Mom!) that had gotten pushed to the corner over time and forgotten about. When I opened up that tin it was like something from that scene in the movie The Green Mile where John Coffey “takes back” the bugs. There were literally hundreds of them and they swarmed out of that tin in a black cloud all around my head. To say that I invented a new dance in the kitchen of my Murfreesboro, TN home that day would be an understatement.

Indian meal moth elimination
The kitchen was a mess!

Actually, finding the source was great news! I knew that I could finally get down to solving the problem. I removed every food item AND sealed container and inspected it. Every corner and crevice. Any containers with larvae, pupae, or moth was discarded in a trash bag. Everything else was wiped down thoroughly with a soapy sponge. Every time I saw a moth I would quickly suck it up in the vacuum.

There were all stages of indian meal moths everywhere I looked: In the food, crevices of bags, crevices of boxes, the screw-on lids of herbs, cracks of wall shelving, corners of pantry, inside lip of the chip clips. ¬† Everywhere! I even found larvae & pupae in “sealed” storage containers holding herbs and seasonings that I had blended together myself. Some things are just not as sealed as you think they are. I was very disappointed to have to throw away those blends. Herbs and seasonings can be so expensive!

Indian meal moth pupae in chip clip lip
Look closely for the cocooned pupae on inside lip of the handle of this chip clip!

The process was very time consuming, but in the end the problem was resolved. Did I mention that no pesticides were used? The solution for indian meal moths can never be accomplished with pesticides. Sometimes, the job of a professional is not in what they do but in what they know. In the work of an exterminator this is called Integrated Pest Management or IPM. Basically, it is a combination of common sense and scientific principles we use to solve a pest problem whereby we reduce the risk to the environment and people. In the case of indian meal moths, we cannot treat the food or their containers so we rely on IPM to remedy the problem.

[subscribe2]