I was just drifting off to sleep when I felt something whoosh past my ear. Crane fly. It had been flying around the bedroom while I was reading, but I had assumed that once it got dark, it would mind its own business. Wrong. It was doing fly-bys like a drunk hummingbird.
Suddenly awake, I swatted at it, but it was gone, and I had no idea where. I turned on the light and looked around my bedspread, my walls, even inside my nightgown. No sign of my intruder. I assumed I had either maimed it or scared it enough to make it fly away.
It was late. I was sleepy. I turned off the light, and scooted down under the covers again. Fifteen minutes later, whoosh. Again, it buzzed my ear. Again, I swatted at it.
Again, I turned on the light, looked all over my room and found nothing. It’s not easy to sleep when you know something is about to buzz your head, but I dozed off anyway.
This morning, I still have not found it, but I did find three of its cousins clinging to my back door. It’s crane fly season in South Beach.
When I was a kid, we used to think these were giant mosquitoes. All it took was one to turn a classroom into a riot of shrieking children. But we didn’t see them nearly as often as we do here.
In September 1999, a year after we moved to this house, my yard was suddenly a sea of these giant mosquito look-alikes. Everywhere I stepped on my lawn, another one flew up. They clung to the walls and windows outside, and sometimes got inside. I decided it was time for some research.
That’s when I discovered these invaders were crane flies. They lay eggs in the grass, which hatch around this time of year. The bad news is that the larvae eat your lawn. The good news is that they won’t eat you. They really do look like mosquitoes, right down to what looks like a stinger hanging down, but they are not mosquitoes. They do not bite people.
Over the years, I have developed a live and let live policy with these big bugs. My lawn is no prizewinner anyway. But when they start buzzing me at night, it’s war. Look out, Mr. Crane Fly. I will find you before the lights go out tonight.