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fly Crane Flies

Identify It >   Fly Section >   Crane Flies >


Scientific name:  Tipula paludosa

Size:  Approx 30mm long.  Wingspan 40mm

Distribution:  Found throughout the UK

Months seen:  June to October.  Numbers peak in September

Habitat:  Normally found on lawns and fields with short grass

Food:  Nectar.  Crane fly larvae feed on the roots of grasses

Special features:  Sometimes called 'daddy long-legs', there are around 300 different species of crane fly in the UK.  Adult crane flies have a long thin body and very long, thin, gangly legs.  The legs are also very fragile, and break off easily.  This may be an escape mechanism to evade capture from birds.

Female Crane flies have larger abdomens in comparison to the males.  The female abdomen ends in a pointed ovipositor which looks a bit like a stinger. Crane flies are harmless and the pointed tip is purely used for egg-laying.  In September you can see the females bobbing up and down in grassland as they lay their eggs.

They have one pair of wings which are used for lift, and a pair of halteres (balancers) which look like a pair of tiny baseball bats just behind the wings.  They work like gyroscopes, helping the fly to keep its balance in the air.

The larvae, which live just below the surface of the soil, are commonly known as 'leatherjackets' on account of their relatively thick skin.

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