Charles Alexander was a Crane Fly connoisseur without parallel. Over the course of his career as an entomologist, Alexander did his darndest to delineate the members of the Order Diptera - flies - with an especially tight focus on Crane Flies. By the time he died in 1981, at the grand old age of 92, Alexander had described over 11,000 species of flies, including some 3,000 Crane Flies. That is a truly remarkable accomplishment, and the good Doctor must have been a whirlwind of productivity.
Here's a Crane Fly. I took this photo this evening, by the front door of my house. I'm sure you've seen these insects; they are quite conspicuous, looking somewhat like mosquitoes on steroids. A female of one of the larger species, such as this specimen, can have a leg span of three inches. Many a Crane Fly illiterati has panicked and then pancaked these interesting bugs, thinking them to be super mosquitoes when in reality Crane Flies are utterly harmless and don't bite or sting.
I wish I could tell you exactly which species this one is, but I don't know. Maybe an expert will see this and be able to tell us. Whether one or more species is involved, this has been an absolute boom year for Crane Flies. I've seen scores of them - far more than I recall in other years - and others have made mention of the same thing. Most adult Crane Flies apparently don't feed; they live only to mate and reproduce. Their larvae, which resemble grubs, DO eat and turf grass roots are a target of some species.
If anyone knows why there seems to be such an explosion of Crane Flies this fall, please do tell.