Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Cranefly - (Tipula spp.)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 5/3/2016

The Cranefly is not a mosquito, but it unfortunately resembles one of humanity's most annoying insects and pays the price.

Though they look like giant mosquitoes, they are not mosquitoes. Craneflies do not bite, they do not have a long proboscis (snout) and adults are not known to feed... on anything. Their fragile long legs break easily and may lead some people to think they are a form of giant Daddy-Long Legs (which are not spiders, by the way), but Craneflies have a pair of wings, which are easy enough to see if you get closer.

Adults tend to sit on walls or hang on things (like plants, gutters, soffits, attracted to light. Some species prefer more aquatic habitats, while others are completely terrestrial.

Females may have a long ovipositor, resembling a needle-like stinger, but it is used to deposit eggs in moist soil or in water, depending on the species. These eggs may overwinter, hatching in the early months of spring. Once the larvae hatch, the immature Craneflies feed on decaying matter, leaf mold and fungi.

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Category: Fly or Mosquito
Common name: Cranefly
Scientific Name: Tipula spp.
Other Names: Leatherjacket

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Diptera
      Family: Tipulidae
       Genus: Tipula
        Species: spp.

Adult Size (Length): 8mm to 65mm (0.31in to 2.56in)

Identifying Colors: brown; gray; gold

Additional Descriptors: flying

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.