Confession time: daddy-long-legs creep me out. Never mind the cute name, up close they look like sci-fi alien drones sent to spy on our planet.
So, it was with some amount of repulsion I read that 200 billion of the bugs are due to hatch on our shores this autumn.
What are daddy-long-legs?
They’re not flying spiders and confusingly, they’re not ‘daddy-long-legs spiders’ either (aka harvestmen and cellar spiders), they’re actually called crane flies, from the tipulidae insect family, and they pop out of larvae called leatherjackets. Still with me?
Most of the ones we’ll see this autumn are Tipula paludosa, which are about an inch in length, but there’s also an increase in numbers of the longer, Tipula maxima species, which can be up to four inches.
Why are there so many of them?
The insects - also knows as crane flies - provide food for wildlife, such as birds and spiders, just before the winter comes, insect charity Buglife said.
Some 200 billion of the harmless insects, which commonly head into homes, are expected to hatch out this year because of a warm summer and recent rain.
Buglife's Rory Dimond said: "They are gradually spreading northwards. They are a non-native species, and they come in from the trading points down the south, in areas like Dover and Kent.
"When the summer is warmer they have more chance of wandering between houses and colonising that way."
How can you get rid of daddy-long-legs?
While the grubs can cause some damage by chomping on plants, the adults don’t really eat, but mate, lay eggs and then die after a few days, Buglife campaigns officer Vanessa Amaral-Rogers told the Daily Express.
They often prove to be a pest for gardeners as they damage lawns, particularly in spring, and can lead to other wildlife such as birds, badgers and foxes digging into the turf in search of a meal.
She suggests the best thing to do, if you find one, is: “Catch it gently, release it outside and wish it well for the rest of its very short life.”
Have you seen more daddy-long-legs around your house than normal? Tell us in the Comments box below.