Craneflies

(Order: Diptera)





 
Crane Fly (female)(Tipula paludosa)(Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)


This is the insect to separate the entomological men from the boys: what do you call this, a daddy long-legs, a crane fly or Tipula paludosa? The wings have brown markings along the front. Both males and females have a pointed tip to the abdomen. The females' wings (as here) are shorter than the abdomen. The Tipula oleracea is a very similar species and can only be distinguished under a microscope. The photo on the right was taken with a macro lens and demonstrates the crane fly's compound eyes made up of thousands of ommatidia, which together make up one complete picture. Compound eyes are excellent at detecting motion.






Crane Fly (female) (Tipula oleracea) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

The distinguishing feature between this crane fly and the last one, Tiplua paludosa, is that the first 2 segments of Tipula paludosa’s antennae are brick-coloured whereas the first 3 segments of Tipula oleracea are brick-coloured. I’m not convinced that’s any real help, but never mind. You can see that this one has not come into contact with young boys as yet, as its six legs currently remain intact.  And no - once a leg's been pulled off, it doesn't grow back again.







Crane Fly (male left, female right) (Pedicia rivosa) (Abernethy Nature Reserve, near Loch Garten)

A huge crane fly. When I first spotted this from a distance I thought it was a strange looking dragonfly. Then when I got closer, I thought it must be my long sought after Tipula maxima because of its size. Unfortunately, it wasn't and apparently Tipula maxima is in fact even larger than these, which is hard to believe. Anyway, the wing pattern clearly makes this Pedicia rivosa instead due to the brown markings on its veins only, whereas Tipula maxima has brown shaded areas across its wings. I assume the 'club tail' of the crane fly on the left, makes it a male, and the point at the end of the cranefly on the right is the egg laying ovipositor of the female.







Crane Fly (male) (Tipula lunata or similar) (on front door, South West Glasgow)

The strong orange colour of this crane fly is quite distinctive and this is clearly a male with its reddish clubbed 'tail' however, there are a number of similarly coloured species, so I can't be certain of the identification of this one. The wings also seem to have a single small dark smudge near their tips and its eyes are green. It is one of the larger crane flies I have come across, but I'm afraid I can't find very much interesting information about this one as yet.





Crane Fly (female) (Epiphragma ocellare) (Inveraray, Argyll)

Ok, I confess. I'm very please with myself for finding this one - it's an absolute stunner and I don't think they're terribly common in Scotland, although they appear to be much more common down south. Crane flies tend to be a bit ten to the penny to be honest, but this one is really distinctive and beautiful. Obviously, it's the wings you notice first. They are yellow with unusual doodle-like brown markings and each wing has a bullseye-like marking towards each wing tip. The abdomen has brown and white stripes and the legs are yellow with black bands. It was found in a very wooded area which I understand is where they are most commonly found.









Crane Fly and Crane Fly with mite (Limonia nubeculosa) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

Quite a common insect.  The speckled pattern on the wings makes this crane fly quite distinctive. The upper part of the legs are also stripy. At rest, their wings are folded over the abdomen.  Some crane flies attract mites and you can see an example of this on the crane fly on the right. It's not very clear but that pinky-orange dot is a mite.  Sometimes there can be quite a number of mites attached to the crane fly.  Some mites are 'phoretic' and have a 'symbiotic' relationship with the cranefly i.e. they just use the crane fly as transport by hitching a ride on it, whilst other mites are parasitic and feed on the crane fly's body fluid. 








Crane Fly (female) (Tipula luna) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

It was incredibly hard to identify this crane fly and I am not 100% convinced I'm right. I don't know why the usual reference guides don't include this one, as in Scotland, these appear to be more abundant than the common Tipula paludosa. The females of this species have the pointed ovipositor to deposit her eggs, whereas males have a broad, clubbed end to their abodmen. The grey colouring in the abdomen is quite distinctive which sometimes, as here, has a dark central line running down it. The thorax is stripe (just about visible here).








Crane Fly (female) (Tipula lateralis) (Waterfoot, South West Glasgow)

Without tying to sound like a stuck record, depite this crane fly haveing quite distinctive markings, it was still pretty difficult to identify. The wings have black markings running through them and whitish-yellow patches near the wing tips.  The most obvious feature, however is the whitish line running down the dark brown abdomen.  The tip of the female's abodmen (as here) tapers to a point, whereas the male has a blunt or clubbed end. 









Crane Fly (female) (Tipula vittata) (Patterton, South West Glasgow)

This is one of the first insects I've seen this year and it's only April. This crane fly is very similar to the one above, but there's not such an obvious 'stripe' down its black and  as you can see from the photos at the top, it's wings have a bit more of a distinctive black and yellow pattern, which is actually quite striking in 'real life'. Like the crane fly above, this crane fly is also often seen beside muddy streams. The photos on the bottom shows the crane fly dipping her ovipositor into a muddy patch to lay her eggs.









Spotted Crane Fly (Nephrotoma quadrofaria) (Argyll Carvan Park, Argyll)

A crane fly that would be rather dull were it not for its extrodinary black and yellow thorax. As here, this crane fly rests with its wings folder flat over its body, which makes its bright yellow abdomen with a black vertical stripe on each segment difficult to see.  I think this may be a female, as you can just make out a red pointed tip to its abdomen.  This species has a dark smudge on the wing which distinguishes it from the very similar looking Nephrotoma appendiculata. 






Spotted Crane Fly (Tipula vernalis) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

A strikingy bright yellow crane fl y with a dark brown line down its thorax and abdomen and distinctive wing marking. It doesn't like coming into houses as much as the common crane fly. It looks rather like the Nephrotoma quadrifaria picture above but without the quadrifaria's bright yellow and black thorax, which clearly this one doesn't posses.
  






 

Crane Fly (Limonia phragmitidis) (Rouken Glen Park, South West Glasgow)

very distinctive orange crane fly with three black dots on the edge of each wing. The thorax is a bright orange whereas the abdomen is a more dirty orange colour. Its legs are brown with dark bands.  It seemed smaller and more delicate than the more common cranflies and was rather nervous of the camera.  There does not appear to be a lot of infomation about this species of cranfly, so if anyone knows any interesting facts about it, I would be delighted to hear about them.









Crane Fly (female top photos, male bottom photo) (Tipula pagana) (Wall of house, South West Glasgow)

The most amazing thing about this crane fly is that it was spotted camped out on the wall beside my front door on a particularly cold and wet Scottish day in late November!  I then thought it was at death's door because of its 'wasted' looking wings.  In fact all females of this species (see top photos), even fit and healthy ones, look like this. Males (bottom photo) have 'normal' long and fairly clear wings.  But the females are, unsurprisingly with reduced wings like these, unable to fly. The females are, however, apparently able to crawl over the ground at a healthy speed.  Next time I see one I'll place it on the ground and scare it to check out whether this is in fact true or not and report back...






Phantom Crane Fly (Ptychoptera sp.)(Darnley Country Park, South West Glasgow)

Thanks once again to www.ispotnature.org.uk  for helping me identify this - I wasn't even sure if it was a crane fly or not as its body seemed much shorter and bulbous than the typical crane fly, and of course, it was this strange shiny black colour. Weird. It was only the long legs (which are yellow with black 'kneecaps') that pointed me in the right direction at all. According to Wikipedia, the reason these are called 'phantom' crane flies is because they have thin black legs with white spots near the tips and when they fly under shady trees, all that can be seen are the white spots flying around, with the rest of the crane fly disappearing like a 'phantom.' I'll put it down to bad photography on my part...






Phantom Crane Fly and mating (Ptychoptera albimana)(Baron Haughs, Motherwell)

This is similar to the phantom crane fly above, but has orange on the abdomen and its tip and the pale yellowish band on its hind legs is what gives it its Latin name Ptychoptera albimana. Again, I must thank  www.ispotnature.org.uk for helping me to identify this one. It's not easy to see from the photo, but I think  the phantom crane fly in the left photo is a male as it has a 'blunt' tip to its abdomen unlike the phantom crane fly above which has a pointed tip for depositing eggs. 








Crane Fly pupating (Front Garden, South West Glasgow)

This crane fly looked like it was growing out of the ground when I first spotted it as the tip of its abdomen seemed to be buried in the earth.  I think the term for what's happening here is pupating - where the crane fly pupa becomes an adult. Crane flies go through complete metamorphisis.  The adult female lays her eggs in water or moist soil which hatch into larvae after one or two weeks. The larvae are commonly known as 'leatherjackets'  which look a little like brown or cream-coloured slugs. The crane fly larvae can live up to a year and the 'terrestrial' species (i.e. land based rather than water based, or 'acquatic' species) overwinters in the soil - as in the case here. The crane fly larvae then pupate for a week or two before becoming fully fledged adults. The adults eat little to nothing and only exist to mate, dying a week or two later.