Just following up on this... I looked up crane flies after seeing another SWARRRRM of these little larvae (they were younger/much smaller than the ones I saw the other day) busy at work on my compost. I found this web page that describes crane fly larvae's role as beneficial insects:
Type of Beneficial: Decomposer / recycler of organic matter
Beneficial Stage(s): Larvae feed on decaying-organic matter and assist in the biological decomposition process. Crane fly adults only live for a couple of days and do not usually feed.
They sure were creepy-looking swarming en masse like they were today (it was like witnessing a decomposing dead body
), but I'm definitely glad they're in there! Thanks again to kimbledawn for identifying them!
In other exciting newbie composting news
, the other thing that happened when I was turning the compost today was that, finally, after several weeks of composting, the part underneath was warm and steaming!!! It was my first time seeing that and I wasn't quite sure my compost pile would ever get to that point!! Worms, writhing larvae, steaming piles... I never would have thought several years ago that these things would be so exciting to me!