Order and Family:
Tipulidae, Crane Flies
3/8-2 1/2″ (8-65 mm), wingspan to 3″ (75 mm). Slender; abdomen longer than thorax and head combined. Grayish brown to golden, depending on species. Antennae with many segments, threadlike or narrowly feathery in males. Thorax has deep V-shaped crease above and acute or round point between wing bases. Females of some species wingless. Legs very slender, usually twice as long as body. Females have sharp ovipositor. Larva, 1/2-1 1/2″ (13-38 mm), is grayish to pale brown, depending on species.
Adult does not eat. Larva feeds on decaying vegetation, fungi, roots, leaves of emergent and terrestrial plants, and, less often, animal matter.
Slender eggs are usually laid in or on moist soil. Fully grown larvae pupate in soil or mud, where pupae usually overwinter. Adults emerge in spring. 1 or more generations a year.
Humid areas and wet ground, often near streams or lakes in mud or wet moss.
Mating swarms of males “dance” above a bush or treetop waiting to seize females. Then each pair settles on foliage to mate. The larvae are often eaten by skunks and moles; adults are devoured by birds and bats. The Central Crane Fly (T. cunctans), 1/2-3/4″ (12-18 mm), has a gray head and thorax, and yellowish abdomen with a brown middorsal line. It ranges from New Brunswick south to Alabama, west to Colorado, north to Manitoba. The female California Range Crane Fly (T. simplex), 3/8-1/2″ (9-13 mm), is grayish-brown and wingless with short legs.