COMMON NAME: Crane Fly
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Genus Tipula (species unidentified)
This female Crane Fly is hanging onto a Texas Toadflax flower head. You can tell it’s a female because of the pointy abdomen, which she uses to oviposit her eggs into the ground. This species has green eyes and a light-colored body. There are thousands of species of Crane Flies, making it a challenge to identify them beyond their genus.
This is the best of the 2 photos I have of a male Crane Fly. Notice the bulb shape on the abdomen, an easy way to distinguish males from females. Males are also smaller. This one is hanging from a Texas Nightshade plant in a partially sunny area of this acre.
There is a very similar insect, the Hanging Fly, which can easily be mistaken for a Crane Fly. The easiest way to tell them apart is the number of wings. The Crane Fly has 2 wings (as “true flies” have) and the Hanging Fly has 4.
Two Crane Flies mating, the female above, and the male below. You can see the pointy part of the female’s abdomen. They appear to both have green eyes.
Another mating photo. The male in this one is a good bit darker than the female. This photo affords a side view of the point on the female’s abdomen. These two appear to have the green eyes as well.
I’m pretty sure this is a female since the abdomen looks pointy underneath the wings. This is the only photo where the wings aren’t spread. This one has dark eyes, dark legs, and a seemingly dark body. I know very little about Crane Flies at this point, but am assuming this is a different species, probably in the same genus. If anyone reading this knows, feel free to make a correction in a comment if applicable.
A female Crane Fly with seemingly dark, rather than green, eyes. She is hanging onto a small branch on a young Elm tree. Also, see the thing sticking out from her body just below the right wing? There is one on each side, called “halteres”, which vibrate at high speed during flight, functioning as stabilizers.
A side view of the female from the first photo at the top, allowing a good look at the side of the body and the face.
A Few Details About This Species:
Range – This genus can be found all over North America. Several species are found in Texas. The Crane Fly family (Tipulidae) can be found among thousands of species around world.
Habitat – Just about anywhere
Diet – The adults live only several days and usually do not eat anything. The larvae feed on decaying organic matter (assisting in the biological decomposition process) on the ground and sometimes roots and forage crops.
Other – Crane Flies are sometimes assumed to be giant Mosquitoes or Mosquito Hawks. “Mosquito Hawk” is a term which generally refers to dragonflies, and Crane Flies are harmless, they do not bite, sting, or transmit disease like Mosquitoes do.
The name for the Insect Order “Diptera” derives from two Greeks words “di” meaning ‘two’ and “ptera” meaning ‘wings.’