Sunday, April 20, 2008

Crane Fly

Crane Fly (Tipula trivittata)

From: Carnegie Museum of Natural History -- The Crane Flies of Pennsylvania

Crane flies (Diptera: Tipulidae) are the largest group of true flies. More than 1,500 species have been described in North America. Crane flies form a highly diverse group of insects, both in number of species and in larval habitats, which extend from aquatic to terrestrial. The body plan or morphology of crane flies is rather simple. An elongate body, one pair of narrow wings, and long, slender legs characterize them. The body size ranges from 5 to 50 mm and can be described as mosquito-like. They are often mistaken for mosquitoes, but they belong to a group of harmless flies and can be distinguished from all other true flies by the transverse V-shaped groove on the dorsal part of the thorax.

Crane flies serve several important roles in the ecosystem. Most importantly, adult and larval crane flies are food for many animals such as birds, fish, frogs, lizards, spiders and other insects. In addition, the larvae are detritus feeders that break down organic matter in various habitats such as streams and forest floors thereby enriching the soil, renewing and modifying the microhabitat for other invertebrate species. Some crane flies require special habitat conditions, and their presence or absence can be used as an indicator of environmental quality. Fishermen use larvae of some large crane flies as bait. Several species of crane flies are important agricultural pests; their larvae feed on seedlings of field crops and if abundant can be destructive to lawns, rangelands, rice fields, and golf courses.

Thanks to Chen Young at BugGuide for the ID.



Texas Travelers said...

Great close-up. A face only a Mother could love. Everything in Nature has it's own beauty. I can appreciate it but I am sorry, that is ugly.

Nice work and terrific write-up. Thanks for looking this up and sharing.

I always find something interesting here.


Andree said...

that last photo is a stunner! The antennae are marvelous and so tiny for such a long fly. I love insect macros and this one I can't stop looking at. I'm wondering if those huge mosquito like flies that I see occasionally are this genus.

AphotoAday said...

How interesting, and how pre-historic looking... Great shots!

smilnsigh said...

Wow! What close-ups! Double wow...

Have you ever told us what camera equipment, you have? If so, I missed it.

Then again, I can't go out and get more stuff now, so I'd better not know. 'Cause I'll want it. -grin-

Not really. I know my limitations. I leave these fantastic close-ups to you people who do them so well.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

What great photos. That close up is awesome. It just reminds me that I think the macro on my point and shoot has died. One drop too many I guess.

Lana Gramlich said...

Awesome close up!

Tom said...

What a great post this is. the second picture is fantastic...

Tom :O)

Marvin said...

Troy: I doubt that crane flies are going to replace butterflies in the hearts of most folks.

Andrée: Can't say for sure, but an large, mosquito-like insect is probably a crane fly.

Don: Pre-historic is a good description.

Mari-Nanci: We have an Olympus C8080WZ and these were shot hand-held with available light with that camera just like it came out of the box. I usually start out in the point and shoot macro mode, just to make sure I get something. If the insect is cooperative and stays put, I start moving closer and switch to manual mode to see if I can get something better. The camera isn't an SLR so add-on lenses are not really a viable option, but I think it takes a pretty good macro.

Lisa: Sorry about your camera, but dropping isn't really a recommended technique. :-)

Lana and Tom: Thanks y'all.

lisa said...

Love the closeup of his face! Is it just me, or does he have a "Snidely Whiplash" moustache? ;-)