Many folks are familiar with crane flies, which like to hang around porch lights in the summer and resemble monstrous mosquitoes (luckily, they don’t bite). From a quick glance, the large insect below generally resembles a crane fly, but has a rather striking coloration to its body. Is it simply a crane fly dressed up in a tuxedo for a luxurious night out on the town? Not quite.
It turns out that it’s from a different family of insects called the phantom crane flies. The particular species in this image is Bittacomorpha clavipes. Not only does this species have a unique black and white pattern, but segments of the tarsi (“feet”) appear swollen. These insects occur in the eastern US (including Wisconsin) and are associated with wetlands but aren’t encountered often.