Move over Flying Ant Day, there’s a new scourge on the block. Or, more accurately, hovering around face height around my block right now. The Daddy Long Legs have descended.

This year we didn’t really get to mark an official ‘flying ant day’, the ants managed to fly under the radar and we weren’t able to republish our annual ‘What’s with all the flying ants?’ clickbaity story. So thank goodness for the, like, hundred Daddy Long Legses (yes, I can spell it like that if I like) scrabbling to get into my kitchen window right now.

But also, what’s that all about?

Daddy Long Legses (or is it Daddies Long Legs?) is the common term used for Crane Flies. The things that the class bully at your primary school used to pluck the legs off. And now he’s either in prison or running a multinational corporation. Those things.

And right now they’re apparently everywhere. And you’re probably wondering why. Or, if you’re not, then you’re probably wondering why you even clicked on this damned thing in the first place. Fair question.

Chances are you've also noticed that we are in the midst of a plague...

Turn to social media and if you can dial down the heated ongoing discussions somewhat inexplicably still raging about Brexit you’ll find a lot of Daddy Long Legs chat. And, chances are you’ve also noticed that we are in the midst of a plague.

According to the Scottish Sun (which is the same as the English Sun, but presumably with 50% more clouds) “Brits are being warned a PLAGUE [their all-caps, not mine] of crane flies are hatching this autumn – after the cool, damp summer created ideal breeding conditions.

So far so John Wyndham. But is it true?

“Billions of the two-inch-wide, spindly-limbed bugs – commonly called Daddy Long Legs – are ascending from their underground nests in vast numbers and are swarming out of their burrows.”

So far so John Wyndham. But is it true?

Well maybe not (I know, I know, I’ve sucker-punched you with this ten paragraphs in, so what was the bloody point of clicking the story in the first place then? Beats me, but we’re both here so let’s finish it off).

Presumably anxious to chalk up a victory against The Sun, The Guardian brought in ‘experts’ (cue those Brexit social media activists again). Who have poured cold water on the idea that we’re in the grip of a Daddy Long Legs epidemic.

It is nearly impossible to say anything definite...

Wheeling out Matt Shardlow, representing the UK insect charity Buglife (us neither), they report him saying it is ‘almost impossible to know, as crane fly numbers are not yet sufficiently monitored, but there have not so far been unusual amounts of the insects’.

Aside from the fact he seems to have completely contradicted himself across a single sentence right there, he continued ‘“As with most insect abundance stories it is nearly impossible to say anything definite as there is no national abundance monitoring of crane flies, and abundance can be very patchy, so if you live next to a field where the crane flies have done well you will notice dozens, while someone living a few miles away may see many fewer than they are used to seeing, due to local conditions.”

Seemingly confirming Mr Gove’s view, the ‘expert’ concludes “All we can really say is that this is not a bad year for crane flies…”

So there we inconclusively have it. Daddy Long Legses are everywhere! Or, um, they aren’t.

Over and out.


Want to receive more great articles like this every day: sign up here