Everyone has seen a crane fly in their lifetime; they probably just don’t know it. Many people shriek at the sight of them and continue to squish the insects as soon as possible, which, honestly, is exactly how I came to find the specimen in the first place.
I was sitting at my desk, attempting to find the empirical formula of glucose (CH2O, for ye fellow chemists out there), when I heard a not-quite-but-close-to-blood-curdling-scream. Out of curiosity, and, of course, my compelling, sometimes heroic nature that is obligated to save the day, I practically flew through the door of my dorm room into the hall from whence the commotion came. Immediately, I recognized the damsel in distress (because she was the one flailing her arms and still screaming). She appeared to be in the middle of the most epic battle imaginable: she was karate chopping the air, throwing fists at what looked like nothing, and finally stomping around like she was the world record holder for Dance Dance Revolution. As I got closer to disturbance number nine (as I labeled it, according to other similar instances I won’t delve into for the sake of this assignment), I realized that she had “taken care of” the situation. There, crumpled on the tile like a broken slinky, wiry legs sprawling to and fro, was the source of my floor mate’s freight.
Most commonly referred to as a “giant mosquito,” the adult crane fly (Diptera: Tipulidae) looks like just that: a really big mosquito. It has six legs, wings, and a large, elongated body. But the crane fly is not nearly as harmful as people might imagine. Don’t scream and throw pillows at it. Don’t run away, because it won’t suck all your blood like your imagination serves you to believe. The adult crane fly is harmless. Really, it’s the larvae you should worry about. These grubs are nuisances to lawns because they feed on the roots. That’s right; the wee, little grubs are the things to be afraid of. But it’s difficult even to be afraid of them since you never see them. They are buried beneath wet leaves in ditches, or burrowed beneath your lawns. So these little lawn devils really are only a threat to dandelions. So next time you see a really big “mosquito” flying your way, don’t scream and kill it. My request is two-fold: one, it really is unfair to the little bug. It just wants to fly, find a mate, and live out the rest of its life in peace, not pieces. Two, compelling, sometimes heroic people, not unlike myself, really need to do their chemistry homework. Don’t get me wrong, we will always come to the rescue, but these little shenanigans are comparable to pulling the fire alarm over burnt popcorn. So, do us all a favor and let the bug live, step away from the fire alarm, and help me with my chemistry homework! Please?