Female Tipula Cranefly

2014 May 28

This crane fly is yet another insect that came to our porch light on July 4, 2013.[1] It was a pretty large one.

The way that the abdomen tapers to a point, I’m pretty sure this is a female. Male crane flies tend to have bulbous abdomen tips, frequently with claspers.

The wings look like a good fit for several of the crane flies in the Tipula genus, although I can’t find an exact match for the wing vein pattern and coloration. The closest I can find are Tipula furca and Tipula tricolor, both of which look close on the wings, but not quite right on the body.

It seems that there are about 473 known species of crane flies in this genus, so it isn’t too surprising I’m not finding an exact match.

She’s actually got fairly pretty eyes, a nice deep ruby-red.

In a way, it is kind of surprising that there are so many different species in this genus, considering that they don’t actually seem to show much variation in lifestyle. The larvae are big, leathery maggots that tend to live in moist soil and leaf litter, and the adults are big, gangly things that flutter around harmlessly. Their main defense against getting eaten appears to be that the first thing that a predator grabs is likely to be one of those long legs, and crane flies shed legs at the slightest provocation.

[1] Flies in general don’t seem to be drawn to lights as strongly as moths are, but we do get some.

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