Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Crane Fly from the subfamily Tipulinae

Crane Flies are flies, not big mosquitoes or daddy-long-leg spiders

They belong to the family Tipulidae, which interestingly has more species than any other fly family in Australia. This family belongs to the suborder Nematocera, which does include Mosquitoes, Midges and Sand Flies. However the Crane Fly is quite harmless, it neither bites, stings or sucks blood, in fact many do not eat at all, being only able to drink, consequently they are very short lived and mainly exist to establish the next generation.

With legs like these, they can't even run fast, particularly when some are easily mislaid.

Crane Fly from the family Tipulidae

Most Crane Flies have an aquatic larval stage and generally prefer moist shady environments, so they are far more common in the near east coastal areas from Tasmania to north Queensland. However we do have over thirty WA species from several genera, whereas in the east they have many times that number. Besides those that prefer aquatic environment, there are also some that breed in moist soils, compost and rotting vegetation. These larvae of these will feed on the decomposing vegetation and/or small invertebrates.
With such long legs, some positions are out of the question.

Unless you look closely, you would think that this fly has a large head and a long proboscis, but on closer inspection it is the thorax that is large and the proboscis looking part, the real head. Examination of the antennae, this species has unbranched tips, which taxonomically places it in the subfamily Tipulinae. Unfortunately I cannot id it to genus let alone species level, as these details are only published in specialist journals that I do not have access.

Some flies do have nasty irritating habits and spread disease, but Crane Flies are one of the good guys.


Gaye said...

I've occasionally seen these insects that resemble killer mosquitos, and although commonsense has tried to tell me that they couldn't possibly be jumbo mossies, survival instincts have taken over and I've swatted them.

Thanks. The sharing of your detailed observations of the creatures that we live with is great stuff for this nature lover. Oh, love the roaches too :)

Esperance Blog said...

Many thanks Gaye, feedback is always welcome.

MissAnthropist said...

...With such long legs, some positions are out of the question...

hehehe ! How long did you have to wait for those 'Adults Only' photos?

What climate does Esperance (beautiful name) in W.A. have? I ask because I have seen those (or at least flyers just like them) quite often in my European Mountain village (1000 m above sea level). They seemed to be in abundance there.

MissAnthropist said...


...With legs like these, they can't even run fast, particularly when some are easily mislaid...

And again (like with the cockroaches), my prejudice and aversion start to crumble: whereas I quite often just simply squashed them, because I thought they would sting, looking at this ^^^ comment, one could nearly feel affection for the poor things....

Esperance Blog said...

Hi MissAnthropist, those Crane Flies you saw in Europe would no doubt be a different species to the ones we have in Esperance, although they are usually found near water, so you probably have the link there.

Glad you are enjoying the blog, it was fun putting it together.