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Crane flies are often mistaken for mosquitoes, but are harmless and can be distinguished from other flies by the V-shaped groove on the top of the thorax. Crane flies serve several important roles in the ecosystem. Most importantly, adult and larval crane flies are food for many animals such as birds, fish, frogs, lizards, spiders and other insects. In addition, the larvae are detritus feeders that break down organic matter in various habitats such as streams and forest floors thereby enriching the soil, renewing and modifying the microhabitat for other invertebrate species. Some crane flies require special habitat conditions, and their presence or absence can be used as an indicator of environmental quality. Fishermen use larvae of some large crane flies as bait. Several species of crane flies are important agricultural pests; their larvae feed on seedlings of field crops and if abundant can be destructive to lawns, rangelands, rice fields, and golf courses.
Eastern North America. Moist woodlands and around water.