...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Joy's photo contest number 5

Nope, I swear I didn't edit this picture, but -- egad!-- what's that giant insect on the window? It's almost as big as a leaf!

Look closely again at the picture (click to see full size) before you make your choice! It's a...

[ ] 1. Giant mosquito. Thumb-sized mosquitoes are common in Sweden.
[ ] 2. Daddy longlegs, as they're called in Britain.
[ ] 3. Janny longlegs, not daddy longlegs

Actually I'm evil and I formulated the above answers as I would a trick-question. Nevertheless, there's a real answer which I will reveal at the end of this post.

Some mosquitoes here in Sweden are indeed bigger than those in the Philippines. Without much exaggeration, they probably compete in size with the regular tropical housefly, although they are not as thick, black and fat as flies of course. In fairness, the oversized pesky things don't carry tropical diseases like malaria or dengue; at best they give you harmless itchy rashes. Although I hear that mosquitoes could be much larger in northern Sweden (for some strange reason or another), alas, those who guessed number 1 are wrong! If mosquitoes do grow to the size of a thumb, they're never much bigger than that... thankfully!

Now to daddy longlegs. The name makes me cringe a little; I'm afraid of spiders, and that's apparently a nickname for another longlegged pest, the pholcus phalangioides (of which I will not post a link because it will lead to a disgusting picture of the thing). The term daddy longlegs though, is apparently used for other insects of long legs too, including a type of anarchid (also ugly and thus will not be researched further by me) and these so-called crane flies, which are also called in Scotland as... Janny longlegs!

So, *dingdingding* number 3 was the most correct answer, except that I didn't refer to it by its proper common name of crane fly (click for an interesting diagram). Although it certainly looks like one to a non-entomologist, crane flies are not mosquitoes but a type of gnat. Harmless -- and basically useless too -- they can reach 1.5 to 2.5 inches and basically just live their whole adult lives as bird prey. Their legs break easily (many sites say that they break even when you don't touch them directly!) probably to escape the birds that snap at to their, um, extreme extremities. If they live long enough to eat, they will feed on nectar, but believe it or not their lifespan isn't even that long so that almost all they could do in their adult life is to mate before getting eaten.

Man, the animal world is a strange world we live in.


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