Giant Crane Fly (Tipula abdominalis)

Pricing: Dead (spread, as pictured): $45
Geographic Range: Eastern North America
View: Top View  Sex: Female
Size: Body Length: 25-38 mm

Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

This striking crane fly is found wherever there are freshwater streams in central and eastern North America. The large, plump larvae, often called "leather jackets", are aquatic. They can be found under rocks, in debris and in mud along the bottoms of streams in many different habitats. The larvae are detritivores and are abundant wherever there is sufficient rotten leaf litter. Two generations of adults emerge each year; one May-July and another beginning in August or September. While Tipula abdominalis is one of the largest crane flies, many crane flies in the genus Tipula are also quite big. These large flies are often mistaken for giant mosquitoes, while in some parts of their range these giant flies are called "Mosquito Hawks", a name that really refers to the famous Green Darner Dragonfly. Crane flies are called "Mosquito Hawks" or "Mosquito Eaters" under the mistaken assumption that they are some kind of predatory fly. The reality of the situation is quite different, for they take sustenance only from flower nectar - if they eat at all. They cannot bite so although they are huge, you have no need to fear them. Tipula abdominalis is often attracted to lights at night.