A research project that brings together an international team led by researchers from the Biopolis research unit that integrates the Cibio-InBIO (Research Center for Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIO Associated Laboratory of the University of Porto), registered the distribution of 102 species of flies -crane also known as giant mosquitoes or melgas (but they don’t bite people) in Portugal. Data are published on the international open access platform GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility)
The results obtained did not research work now released add 33 species to the national fauna of the group of insects studied, increasing to 149 the number of known crane-fly species in Portugal. Although they are also known as giant mosquitoes or melgas, these long-legged animals enjoy an unfounded bad reputation because they are often confused with biting insects, in other words, especially hematophagous. However, contrary to what one might think, the crane does not bite for sugar blood and there are even some species that are predators of mosquitoes (which bite).
“[As moscas-grua] They don’t sting and they don’t harm us. This group of dipterans (flies) is called Tipuloid and includes four families, but only 3 of these are already registered in Portugal. It is one of the most numerous groups of Diptera with more than 15630 species in the world. In the Iberian Peninsula, more than 370 species are marked, so it is suspected that there will still be many species to be registered in the fauna of Portugal that have gone unnoticed by scientists”, said the press release on the work of Cibio-InBIO.
The adult insects of this species can measure between 2 to 60 mm in length (not counting the long, slender legs), and some tropical species can even reach up to 100 mm in length. “Most species are brownish in color, but there are species that stand out for their vibrant patterns of yellow and black. In the larval stage, many of these insects are found in aquatic habitats, while others occur in areas with high humidity”, the statement also clarifies.
Scientists further acknowledge that “adult crane flies may at first glance resemble mosquitoes, which often causes fear and has formed in gigantic people when they are attracted to lights on the hottest nights” and admit that “some species cause harmful, because when present in large numbers, as their larvae feed on roots that cause appreciable damage in agriculture”.
With this research project, 33 species were added to the group’s national fauna, increasing to 149 the number of crane species known in Portugal. The data that can be consulted in the international open access database Global Biodiversity Information Facility(GBIF) also includes the availability of DNA barcodes for the identification of 83 species. “These DNA barcodes complement as public databases, enabling specialized studies to be carried out and a better understanding of their role in trophic networks and ecosystems”, states the press release that also records that “by identifying the codes of DNA DNA bars of insect species had already been possible to add 27 species to the national fauna in 2020”.