Megistocera longipennis - Típula / Mosquito-Gigante / True Crane Fly (Macquart, 1838)
Diptera: Nematocera: Tipulomorpha: Tipuloidea: Tipulidae: Tipulinae
Lateral view here:
Date: 17th of April, 2018 at 09:23:12am
Location: Brazil, Ceará, Fortaleza (Lat: -3.75, Long: -38.51, 16th floor)
Other names: Daddy Longlegs (often attributed to Pholcid spiders); Mosquito Hawk.
This one was found on the 16th floor of a flat in an urban habitat during daytime (09:23:12am), which proves that Megistocera longipennis are able to fly relatively high. Tipulid adults prefer humid areas with attenuated temperatures during the winter. The larvae of some species occur in salty ponds in desertic zones being able to withstand temperatures below the freezing point.
Megistocera longipennis, identified by Cesar of Insetologia, is a species of true crane flies in the order Diptera, suborder Nematocera, infraorder Tipulomorpha, superfamily Tipuloidea, family Tipulidae and subfamily Tipulinae. Along with Megistocera longipennis, M. filipes are the only two known species in the genus Megistocera (Fabricius, 1805). Synonyms of M. longipennis include Megistocera tenuis (van der Wulp, 1885) and Tipula longipennis (Macquart, 1838). M. filipes has two subspecies; M. filipes filipes (Fabricius, 1805) and M. filipes fuscana (Wiedemann, 1820). The subject portrayed is a female, given the simple antennae.
A2 vein is short as it is in Trichocera, but straight. Wings are windowed and possess an intricate network of veins with a small darker spot on their distal lateral margins. The body is brown and the wings, although translucent, possess shades of a rusty yellow. The thorax is robust and brown and the abdomen is slender and becomes more slender as it reaches the thorax. The legs are way longer than the body. The body's length, taking away the legs and the part of the wings extending beyond it, measured around 2cm. I don't know the measures of the whole body, including legs and wings, but it goes way beyond the body's length. Their eyes are large and compound, located on the terminal area of the head. The legs are most likely part of an evolutionary process that confers them the ability of landing on cylindrical stems and on the blades of leaves of Juncus sp. (Junaceae) ("rush") and Poaceae ("grasses"). Bucal parts are elongate, but are not developed to bite. Labellum is visible in the lateral view and is orangeish or brown; right at its back we can see the rostrum. I could note 6 dark antennal segments, followed by an orangeish or brown scape and pedicle. Maxillary palpi were dark colored; kind of hard to see how many segments they are made of, but seemingly four or five, with no reliability to this claim. They lack the scales on the wings that are characteristic to the true mosquitoes. They are great fliers and can land easily. They can also autotomize their legs when suffering from a predation attempt. Halteres are present as usual with Dipterans. You can see the technical terms for the venations of the wings here: http://drawwing.org/insect/megistocera-l...
They are primarily Neotropical in distribution; their distribution can be seen as follows: USA (Texas, La, Fla); Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Cuba; Dominican Rep.; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Paraguay; Peru; Puerto Rico; Suriname; Trinidad.
They are harmless. They do not possess a Culicid's rostrum, which means they can't bite. I do not know what are the feeding habits of this species, but it is known that many Tipulids do not feed at all, with the adults establishing themselves as part of the food chain in nature, serving as food for many birds, insects, Amphibians, Reptilians and more, and reproducing; this means that their larvae are important in the food chain and in other aspects as I will note afterwards and, as only around 2% of the larvae of Tipulids are known, they are still greatly understudied. However, many Tipulids are known to feed on nectar and act as pollinators to a great variety of plants. The larvae are known to be aquatic in most Tipulids, thriving in salty lagoons and multiple terrestrial habitats. Most of the larvae serve as decomposers of organic matter, acting as detritivores, while also being part of the food chain. Some predate other larvae and feed on roots. Some Tipulid's larvae feed on the larvae of mosquitoes such as Culicids. Thankfully, they are incredibly resistant to some pesticides.
It is worth noting again that they are not hematophagous (they do not feed on blood, they can't even bite) and some species are predators of true mosquitoes. They are delicate and simply handling them can damage their legs, body and wings. The one in the picture was already found with the missing leg. A missing leg is not a great harm to a Tipulid, so long as the legs missed are very few. This exact species is very poorly known, and I couldn't find much information specific to them, to which I apologize as there seems to be no way for me to acquire information on them through the Internet, forcing me to go for exogenous resources which are not available to me at the moment - if these exist. If you know anything else about Megistocera longipennis, please tell me and I WILL credit you for the given information!
Tipulidae article on Wikipedia that seems very reliable: https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipulidae
Article on Insetologia: https://www.insetologia.com.br/2018/06/mosquitao-tipulideo-no-ceara.html
Morphology of Tipulidae: https://www.ent.iastate.edu/dept/research/systematics/thai/head