West Virginia Crane Flies

Family Tipulidae

Tipulid Crane Flies are sometimes mistaken for mosquitos, though they are much, much larger (and they do not bite). Characteristics of the family include very long slender legs, slender bodies, and often a coloration that is yellow to brown.

Tipulidae is closely related to Limoniidae (and in fact some experts treat Limoniidae as a subfamily within Tipulidae). To see which traits these two families share and which traits are different, see our How to Tell Tipulidae from Limoniidae page.

As with so many fly families, larvae in Tipulidae require a moist environment to develop. This may be wet moss, a damp rotting log, moist soil, humid leaf litter, or an actual stream or pond. Each species has its own special larval requirements.

Adult Crane Flies in West Virginia are most often found in woodlands, often near a small stream. Other habitats include drier woods, forest edges, and sometimes meadows.

Crane Flies are found in most parts of the world, though Afrotropical and Australasian species are fewer in number. Fossil Crane flies date back some 240 million years, and in fact de Jong et al. state that "Present-day general distribution patterns of many higher taxa of [Crane Flies] probably have a Pangean or Gondwanan origin." The relative paucity of African species probably is related to Africa's "early separation from the remainder of Gondwana" (de Jong et al., 2007).

Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version with information about the species.

Nephrotoma alterna
Nephrotoma alterna
Nephrotoma macrocera
Nephrotoma macrocera
Tipula senega
Tipula (Lindnerina) senega
Tipula bicornis
Tipula (Lunatipula) bicornis
Tipula duplex
Tipula (Lunatipula) duplex
Tipula fuliginosa
Tipula (Lunatipula) fuliginosa
Tipula submaculata and T. mallochi
Tipula (Lunatipula) submaculata
Tipula abdominalis
Tipula (Nippotipula) abdominalis
Tipula collaris
Tipula (Nobilotipula) collaris
Tipula ultima
Tipula (Platytipula) ultima
Tipula trivittata
Tipula (Pterelachisus) trivittata
Tipula caloptera
Tipula (Yamatotipula) caloptera
Tipula sayi
Tipula (Yamatotipula) sayi

Note that some Crane Flies are in other families such as Limoniidae

A special word of thanks to Dr. Chen Young, our mentor in all things Crane Fly. Dr. Young has worked extensively in West Virginia as well as in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and no one knows the fauna better than he. A number of individual species pages on our site mention him as the source for various behavioral observations, or taxonomic tips. Visit his Crane Flies of Pennsylvania site for more information about our regional fauna.

Insects of West Virginia