Crane Flies (Tipula spp.)

Crane Flies (Tipula spp.) 

Crane Flies (Tipula spp.) are insects in the Tipulidae (Crane Flies) family. Over 4,000 species of Crane Flies are recognized worldwide.  Listing all the species of Crane Flies in the area of French Hill Pond would be a monumental task. Therefore, these species will be discussed in general. Crane Flies are in the order Diptera or Flies. "Tipula" is Latin for "water spider." However, Crane Flies are not spiders and are not always found on water but they do prefer to frequent wet areas or areas near water. Fly fisherman often use lures of designs based upon Crane Flies.

These insects can have a wingspan of up to three inches (7.5 centimeters) and a body length of from about ⅜ inch (one centimeter) to 2½ inches (6.5 centimeters). A Crane Fly's thorax and abdomen are very slender and the abdomen is much longer than the thorax. The photograph above is of a Crane Fly found east of French Hill Pond. This specimen had a wingspan of about two inches (five centimeters) and a body length of about 1.3 inches (3.3 centimeters). The slender legs are about twice as long as the body length.

The color can vary from gray-brown to gold. The wings can be transparent and plain or have intricate patterns as seen in the example above. The thorax has a v-shaped crease above.

Crane Flies have only one pair of wings. However, they have knobbed protrusions called "halteres" where the rear pair of wings would be located on other winged insects. These protrusions are shown in the photograph below and identified by the red arrows. It is thought that Crane Flies are insects that evolved the forewings into halteres. The halteres act as flight sensors. This wing system gives the Crane Fly a halting flight pattern making it easy to catch.

Crane Flies (Tipula spp.) Halteres

The female Crane Fly has a pointed tube called an ovipositor at the end of the abdomen, shown in the photograph below, used to lay eggs. This ovipositor is not a stinger.

Crane Flies (Tipula spp.) Ovipositor

Adult Crane Flies eat nectar if anything at all. Once a Crane Fly mates and eggs are deposited, the fly dies. The eggs are deposited on vegetation or in the ground. The larvae feed on the vegetation or roots of vegetation. Therefore, Crane Fly larvae can damage turf and trees but don't appear to be much of a problem in the French Hill Pond area. The larvae pupate in the ground where they overwinter and emerge in the spring as adults.

These insects have a reputation for biting or stinging but they do neither. Except for their potential to destroy vegetation, they are harmless.

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