The Daddy Longlegs

By Elizabeth McArdle

When you are out and about, you may notice an insect flying in a very wobbly and erratic manner. Chances are that it will be a Crane Fly which is familiar to most of us in its adult form as the gangly insect that flits around our homes in summer.

Also known as the Daddy Longlegs, this endearing creature has a long, brown body and beautiful translucent wings. Their very long legs are extremely fragile and will easily fall off if handled.

Entomologists (people who study insects) have suggested that this trait may help them to escape from predators, especially birds who find them delicious.

The Daddy Longlegs undergoes four distinct stages in its life cycle which is known as complete metamorphosis. These stages are egg, larvae, pupa and adult. After mating, the male dies immediately, while the female (Mammy Longlegs) lives a little longer to lay her fertilised eggs into the moist soil or grass. Exhausted, she also dies.

Within two weeks, the eggs hatch into grey larvae which are known as leather jackets. Please do not confuse them with motor cyclists who are sometimes referred to as leather jackets. The larvae feed voraciously on decaying wood and vegetation and pupate in mid to late spring just below the soil surface. Adults are on the wing in late summer and do not feed at all. Their energy and attention are totally focused on mating and the laying of their eggs. Their cycle of life begins all over again.

All God’s creatures deserve our respect and care. If you see a Daddy Longlegs trapped in your window, take it gently in your hand and put it outside. In this way you will be protecting God’s creation and the Daddy Longlegs will be very grateful for your loving care.

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