One of the more noticeable insects in grassy areas, particularly this season, have been those long-dangling-legged, low-flying, giant mosquito-like flies, bumbling their way through the undergrowth, their long wings & legs catching on every other stalk. And, like all flies, they have just one pair of wings i.e. the Order Diptera, two (di) wings (ptera). These are the Crane Flies.
Most flying insects have two pairs of wings (e.g. butterflies & moths, grasshoppers, cockroaches, beetles), but the Diptera have ‘lost’ one pair (the hind ones). The stubs of the lost wings are still there and they’re thought to act as stabilizing gyroscopes. And the crane flies appear to be an ancient branch of the Diptera, evolving perhaps 200 mya. Because they often occur locally in large numbers, they are an important part of the diet of many insect-eaters, like spiders, mantises and birds.
Adult Crane Flies usually feed on nectar, but in some species they don’t feed at all, relying only on the energy reserves inherited from the larva, in which case they just mate and then die.
This is the locally abundant Tiger Crane Fly (tentative ID; Nephrotoma australasiae) with a distinctive striped, yellow abdomen. The female is the larger, with an abdomen full of eggs. They fly around joined like this, and are surprisingly agile.
These Crane Flies were numerous in a perched bog wetland I visited recently.