What’s this?January 3rd, 2017
This hairy leg belongs to…
…a crane fly! What you see here is the tibia of one of their six long legs.
Crane flies rely on damp environments, especially moist soil, in which to lay their eggs. Crane flies are often found resting on vegetation in damp areas overhanging a water source. With Stanley Park encompassing three distinct (and distinctly wet) ecosystems – coastal temperate rainforest, wetland, and marine – there are plenty of suitable habitats in the Park for the crane fly to inhabit.
The tiny hairs on a crane fly’s legs are actually a key evolutionary adaptation to their wet habitats. The hairs create a non-wetting surface along the legs to impart resistance to liquid surfaces and rain. Crane fly legs are notoriously weak. The hairs ensure that its legs will not be snagged by a liquid surface. Crane flies can stand on the surface of a water body for this reason! Even finer hairs are present on the crane flies wings, allowing water droplets to simply roll off their bodies.
So, what is this? Thousands of tiny hairs enable this crane fly to navigate the very (wet) environment it relies on for survival. Adaptations are incredible!
–By Emily Stringer, SPES Environmental Educator