This is a crane fly, one of 4250 plus species in the family Tipulidae. Its leg span was a good 2.5 inches, resembling a mosquito on steroids. The blunt end of the abdomen suggests it is a male as the female's ovapositor is more pointed, easily mistaken for a stinger. If you enlarge the picture and look carefully, you can make out thin halteres behind the wings resembling displaced antennae. They are modifications of the second set of wings which most insects come equipped with.
|Knobbed Halteres- Wikimedi|
"Halteres thus act as a balancing and guidance system, helping these insects to perform their fast aerobatics. In addition to providing rapid feedback to the muscles steering the wings, they also play an important role in stabilizing the head during flight."
|Compound eye of Crane Fly- Wikimedia|
Adults for the most part do not feed, flying only to mate and breed. Their larvae live in moist soil and rotting leaves where they feed on decomposing organic matter, helping in their very small way to build soil. Some will feed on plant roots and some introduced species are considered lawn pests when their larvae are present in large numbers.
The next time you see one of these awkward creatures stumbling around in the air or landing awkwardly on you, don't swat it. Its larvae may some day fatten up your neighborhood Robin.
More pictures at http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/crane_fly.htm