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Cranefly (Various spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Cranefly



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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Jim D. from Brighton, MI
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Image Credit: Tisha C. from southern CA
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Image Credit: Ted L.
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Image Credit: Haley M. from UT
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Image Credit: Arch Baker
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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Bethany B.
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Image Credit: Candace Z. from Callery, PA
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Image Credit: Jim D. from Brighton, MI
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Image Credit: Raakesh B.
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Image Credit: Dale M. from Goderich, ON
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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Image Credit: Yvonne from Phoenix, AZ
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The Cranefly is not a mosquito, but it unfortunately resembles one of humanity's most annoying insects and pays the price.



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Harmless insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Tipulidae
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Other Name(s): Leatherjacket
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 8mm to 65mm (0.31" to 2.55")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; gray; gold
Descriptors: flying, funny face, gray worm, translucent, large mosquito, harmless

Cranefly Video(s)




Craneflies in the lawn during mating season.
A leaf-curling Cranefly on a peach tree.
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 8mm and 65mm
Lo: 8mm
Md: 36.5mm
Hi: 65mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
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State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
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State of Maine graphic
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State of Minnesota graphic
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State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Cranefly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Cranefly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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