The Info List - Crane Fly

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Crane fly
Crane fly
is a common name referring to any member of the insect family Tipulidae, of the order Diptera, true flies in the superfamily Tipuloidea. Cylindrotominae, Limoniinae, and Pediciinae have been ranked as subfamilies of Tipulidae by most authors,[1] though occasionally elevated to family rank. In the most recent classifications, only Pediciidae
is now ranked as a separate family, due to considerations of paraphyly.[2] In colloquial speech, crane flies are sometimes known as mosquito hawks or daddy longlegs, a term also used to describe opiliones or the family Pholcidae, both of which are arachnids. The larvae of crane flies are known commonly as leatherjackets.[3] Crane flies are found worldwide, though individual species usually have limited ranges. They are most diverse in the tropics, and are also common in northern latitudes and high elevations.[4] The Tipulidae is one of the largest groups of flies, including over 15,000 species and subspecies in 525 genera and subgenera.[5] Most crane flies were described by the entomologist Charles Paul Alexander, a fly specialist, in over 1000 research publications.[6]


1 Description

1.1 Summary 1.2 Formal

2 Biology 3 Ecology 4 Pest status 5 Genera 6 Phylogenetics 7 Common names 8 Misconceptions 9 See also 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links

12.1 Species lists


The head of a Tipula

Summary[edit] The adult crane fly, resembling an oversized mosquito, has a slender body and stilt-like legs that are deciduous, easily coming off the body. The wingspan is generally about 1.0 to 6.5 cm. The antennae have up to 39 segments.[3] It is also characterized by a V-shaped suture on the back of the thorax and by its wing venation.[4] The rostrum is long; in some species it is as long as the head and thorax together.[5] Formal[edit]

For terms see Morphology of Diptera

Tipulidae are large to medium-sized flies (7–35 mm) with elongated legs, wings, and abdomen. Their colour is yellow, brown or grey. Ocelli are absent. The rostrum (a snout) is short to very short with a beak-like point called the nasus (rarely absent). The apical segment of the maxillary palpi is flagelliform and much longer than the subapical segment. The antennae have 13 segments (exceptionally 14–19). These are whorled, serrate, or ctenidial. There is a distinct V-shaped suture between the mesonotal prescutum and scutum (near the level of the wing bases). The wings are monochromatic, longitudinally striped or marbled. In females the wings are sometimes rudimentary. The sub-costal vein (Sc) joins through Sc2 with the radial vein, Sc1 is at most a short stump. There are four, rarely (when R2 is reduced) three branches of the radial vein merging into the alar margin. The discoidal wing cell is usually present. The wing has two anal veins. Sternite 9 of the male genitalia has, with few exceptions, two pairs of appendages. Sometimes appendages are also present on sternite 8. The female ovipositor has sclerotized valves and the cerci have a smooth or dentate lower margin. The valves are sometimes modified into thick bristles or short teeth.



The larva is elongated, usually cylindrical. The posterior two-thirds of the head capsule is enclosed or retracted within the prothoracic segment. The larva is metapneustic (with only one pair of spiracles, these on the anal segment of the abdomen), but often with vestigial lateral spiracles (rarely apneustic). The head capsule is sclerotized anteriorly and deeply incised ventrally and often dorsolaterally. The mandibles are opposed and move in the horizontal or oblique plane. The abdominal segments have transverse creeping welts. The terminal segments of the abdomen are glabrous, often partially sclerotized and bearing posterior spiracles. The spiracular disc is usually surrounded by lobe-like projections and anal papillae or lobes. Biology[edit]

A pair of crane flies (Tipulidae) mating

Crane fly
Crane fly

The adult female usually contains mature eggs as she emerges from her pupa, and often mates immediately if a male is available. Males also search for females by walking or flying. Copulation takes a few minutes to hours and may be accomplished in flight. Adults have a lifespan of 10 to 15 days.[7] The female immediately oviposits, usually in wet soil or mats of algae. Some lay eggs on the surface of a water body or in dry soils, and some reportedly simply drop them in flight. Most crane fly eggs are black in color. They often have a filament, which may help anchor the egg in wet or aquatic environments.[6] Crane fly
Crane fly
larvae (leatherjackets) have been observed in many habitat types on dry land and in water,[6] including marine, brackish, and fresh water.[5] They are cylindrical in shape, but taper toward the front end, and the head capsule is often retracted into the thorax. The abdomen may be smooth, lined with hairs, or studded with projections or welt-like spots. Projections may occur around the spiracles.[5] Larvae may eat algae, microflora, and living or decomposing plant matter, including wood. Some are predatory.[6][8] Ecology[edit]

The thorax of a crane fly

Larval habitats include all kinds of freshwater, semiaquatic environments. Some Tipulinae, including Dolichopeza Curtis, are found in moist to wet cushions of mosses or liverworts. Ctenophora Meigen species are found in decaying wood or sodden logs. Nephrotoma
Meigen and Tipula
Linnaeus larvae are found in dry soils of pasturelands, lawns, and steppe. Tipulidae larvae are also found in rich organic earth and mud, in wet spots in woods where the humus is saturated, in leaf litter or mud, decaying plant materials, or fruits in various stages of putrefaction. Larvae can be important in the soil ecosystem, because they process organic material and increase microbial activity.[6] Larvae and adults are also valuable prey items for many animals, including insects, spiders, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals.[5] The larvae of some species consume other living aquatic insects and invertebrates,[9] which could potentially include mosquito larvae.[10] Many adults, however, have such short lifespans that they do not eat at all.[10] Despite widely held beliefs that adult crane flies (or "mosquito hawks") prey on mosquito populations, the adult crane fly is anatomically incapable of killing or consuming other insects.[11] Pest status[edit] The common European crane fly, Tipula
paludosa, and the marsh crane fly, T. oleracea, are agricultural pests in Europe. Crane fly
Crane fly
larvae of economic importance live in the top layers of soil where they feed on the roots, root hairs, crown, and sometimes the leaves of crops, stunting their growth or killing the plants. They are pests on a variety of commodities. Since the late 1900s, T. paludosa and T. oleracea have become invasive in the United States.[12][13][14] The larvae have been observed on many crops, including vegetables, fruits, cereals, pasture, lawn grasses, and ornamental plants. In 1935, Lord's Cricket Ground
Lord's Cricket Ground
in London was among venues affected by leatherjackets. Several thousand were collected by ground staff and burned, because they caused bald patches on the wicket and the pitch took unaccustomed spin for much of the season.[15] Genera[edit]

Global diversity of Tipulidae

Subfamily Ctenophorinae

Ctenophora Meigen, 1803 Dictenidia
Brulle, 1833 Phoroctenia Coquillett, 1910 Pselliophora
Osten Sacken, 1887 Tanyptera
Latreille, 1804

Subfamily Cylindrotominae

Macquart, 1834 Diogma
Edwards, 1938 Liogma Osten Sacken, 1869 Phalacrocera Schiner, 1863 Stibadocera Enderlein, 1912 Stibadocerella Brunetti, 1918 Stibadocerina Alexander, 1929 Stibadocerodes Alexander, 1928 Triogma Schiner, 1863

Subfamily Dolichopezinae

Dolichopeza Curtis, 1825

Subfamily Tipulinae

Acracantha Skuse, 1890 Angarotipula Savchenko, 1961 Austrotipula Alexander, 1920 Brachypremna Osten Sacken, 1887 Brithura Edwards, 1916 Clytocosmus Skuse, 1890 Elnoretta Alexander, 1929 Euvaldiviana Alexander, 1981 Goniotipula Alexander, 1921 Holorusia
Loew, 1863 Hovapeza Alexander, 1951 Hovatipula Alexander, 1955 Idiotipula Alexander, 1921 Indotipula Edwards, 1931 Ischnotoma Skuse, 1890 Keiseromyia Alexander, 1963 Leptotarsus
Guerin-Meneville, 1831 Macgregoromyia Alexander, 1929 Megistocera
Wiedemann, 1828 Nephrotoma
Meigen, 1803 Nigrotipula Hudson & Vane-Wright, 1969 Ozodicera Macquart, 1834 Platyphasia Skuse, 1890 Prionocera Loew, 1844 Prionota van der Wulp, 1885 Ptilogyna Westwood, 1835 Scamboneura Osten Sacken, 1882 Sphaerionotus de Meijere, 1919 Tipula
Linnaeus, 1758 Tipulodina Enderlein, 1912 Valdiviana Alexander, 1929 Zelandotipula Alexander, 1922

Phylogenetics[edit] The phylogenetic position of the Tipulidae remains uncertain. The classical viewpoint that they are an early branch of Diptera[16][17]—perhaps (with the Trichoceridae) the sister group of all other Diptera—is giving way to modern views that they are more highly derived.[18] This is thanks to evidence from molecular studies, which is consistent with the more derived larval characters similar to those of 'higher' Diptera.[19] The Pediciidae
and Tipulidae are sister groups (the "limoniids" are a paraphyletic clade)[2] and the Cylindrotominae appear to be a relict group that was much better represented in the Tertiary.[20] Tipulidae probably evolved from ancestors in the Upper Jurassic, the Architipulidae. Common names[edit] Numerous other common names have been applied to the crane fly. Many of the names are more or less regional in the U.S., including mosquito hawk, mosquito eater, gallinipper, and gollywhopper.[21] They are also known as daddy longlegs around the world,[3] not to be confused with daddy-long-legs that refers to arachnids of the order Opiliones
or the family Pholcidae. The larvae of crane flies are known commonly as leatherjackets.[3] Misconceptions[edit] There is an enduring urban legend that crane flies are the most venomous insects in the world, but have no ability to administer the venom. This is not true.[22] The myth likely arose due to their being confused with the cellar spider as they are also informally called "daddy longlegs", and although the spider does possess venom, this has also been debunked.[23] See also[edit]

Tipularia discolor, the crane fly orchid


^ Alexander C.P., Byers G.W. (1981) Tipulidae. in: McAlpine J.F. et al. (Ed.), Manual of Nearctic Diptera. Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, pp. 153–1902 ISBN 0-660-10731-7 pdf download manual ^ a b Petersen, Matthew J.; Bertone, Matthew A.; Wiegmann, Brian M.; Courtney, Gregory W. (2010). "Phylogenetic synthesis of morphological and molecular data reveals new insights into the higher-level classification of Tipuloidea
(Diptera)". Systematic Entomology. 35 (3): 526–545. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3113.2010.00524.x.  ^ a b c d Watson, L. and M. J. Dallwitz. 2003 onwards. Tipulidae. British Insects: The Families of Diptera. Version: 1 January 2012. ^ a b Pritchard, G. (1983). Biology of Tipulidae. Annual Review of Entomology
28(1), 1-22. ^ a b c d e de Jong, H., et al. (2008). Global diversity of craneflies (Insecta, Diptera: Tipulidea or Tipulidae sensu lato) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595(1), 457-67. ^ a b c d e Oosterbroek, P. Superfamily Tipuloidea, Family Tipulidae. Chapter 2 In: Evenhuis, N. L. (Ed.) Catalog of the Diptera of the Australasian and Oceanian Regions, Issue 86 of Bernice P. Bishop Museum Special
Publication. Apollo Press. 1989. ^ "Crane Flies :: Introduction".  ^ G Pritchard , 1983 Biology of Tipulidae Annual Review of Entomology Vol. 28: 1-22 pdf ^ "Crane Fly
Larvae - EcoSpark".  ^ a b Blake Newton. "Crane Flies of Kentucky - University of Kentucky Entomology".  ^ " Mosquito
Hawk? Skeeter Eater? Giant Mosquito? No, No, and No". Entomology
Today.  ^ Rao, Sujaya; Listona, Aaron; Cramptonb, Lora; Takeyasu, Joyce (2006). "Identification of Larvae of Exotic Tipula
paludosa (Diptera: Tipulidae) and T. oleracea in North America Using Mitochondrial cytB Sequences". Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 99 (1): 33–40. doi:10.1603/0013-8746(2006)099[0033:IOLOET]2.0.CO;2.  ^ Blackshaw R. P, Coll C. Economically important leatherjackets of grassland and cereals: biology, impact and control. Integr. Pest. Manag. Rev. 1999, 4:143-160.Blackshaw_and_Coll,_1999.pdf pdf ^ Jackson D. M, Campbell R. L. Biology of the European crane fly, Meigen, in western Washington (Tipulidae: Diptera). Washington State University Technical Bull. No. 81. 1975. ^ A. Ward. Cricket's Strangest Matches (1998 ed.). Robson Books, London. p. 111.  ^ Rohdendorf, B. 1974. The Historical Development of Diptera. Edmonton: Univ. Alberta. ^ Savchenko, E. N. 1966. Phylogeny and systematics of the Tipulidae. Fauna Ukraini 14:63–88. In Russian. ^ CSIRO, 2017. Australian Insect
Families, <http://anic.ento.csiro.au/insectfamilies> ^ Gullan, P. J., Cranston, P. S. 2014. The insects: an outline of entomology. 5th edition. West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell. ^ Hennig, W. 1950. Die Larvenformen der Dipteren, Arb. 2. Berlin: Akad. Verlag. ^ Dictionary of American Regional English.  ^ Could record 200 billion daddy-long-legs hit UK? - Newsround, CBBC, 8 September 2016. ^ Debunked: Are Daddy Longlegs the most poisonous spiders in the world? - TheJournal.ie, 20 October 2013.

Further reading[edit]


Pierre C.,1924, Diptères: Tipulidae Faune de France n° 8 Bibliotheque Virtuelle Numerique Out of date but online at no cost. In French. R. L. Coe, Paul Freeman & P. F. Mattingly Nematocera: families Tipulidae to Chironomidae (Tipulidae). Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects Vol 9 Part 2 i. pdf download manual Out of date but online at no cost J.F. McAlpine, B.V. Petersen, G.E. Shewell, H.J. Teskey, J.R. Vockeroth, D.M. Wood. Eds. 1987 Manual of Nearctic Diptera Volume 1 Research Branch Agriculture Canada, 1987 pdf key to Nearctic genera E. N. Savchenko Family Tipulidae in Bei-Bienko, G. Ya, 1988 Keys to the insects of the European Part of the USSR Volume 5 (Diptera) Part 2 English edition. Keys to Palaearctic species but now needs revision.

External links[edit]

Look up crane fly in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tipulidae.

has information related to Tipulidae

Ohioline.osu.edu, Ohio State University Fact Sheet Family Tipulidae at EOL IZ.carnegiemnh.org, Crane Flies of Pennsylvania, Extensive Specimen Collection, Carnegie Museum of Natural History NLBIF.eti.uva.nl, Catalog of Craneflies of the World Diptera.info, Image Gallery BugGuide.net, photo gallery, many species Gaga.jes.mlc.edu.tw, Tipulidae of Taiwan (in Chinese), with images under Latin binomials Insects.tamu.edu, Texas A&M Entomology
Field Guide Crane Flies of PA

Species lists[edit]

West Palaearctic including Russia Australasian/Oceanian Nearctic Japan

Taxon identifiers

Wd: Q474636 ADW: Tipulidae BugGuide: 183 EoL: 514 EPPO: 1TIPUF Fauna Europaea: 11636 Fossilworks: 72089 GBIF: 7634 ITIS: 118840 NCBI: 41042 WoRMS: 150929

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