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Midges Flies and Mosquitoes: Diptera - European Marsh Crane Fly (tipula Paludosa): Species Accounts

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Physical characteristics: Adult European marsh crane files resemble giant, grayish brown mosquitoes with brown legs. They measure about 1 inch (25 millimeters) in length. Their narrow wings span 0.7 to 0.9 inches (17 to 25 millimeters). The gray larvae are known as leather jackets because their exoskeleton is tough and leathery. Mature larvae measure 1.1 inches (30 millimeters). The brown, spiny pupae are about 1.3 inches (33 millimeters) in length.


Geographic range: Native to northern Europe, they are now found in western Canada and the United States.


Habitat: This species lives in areas with mild winters, cool summers, and rainfall averaging about 23.5 inches (600 millimeters) a year. They prefer wet lawns, pastures, hay fields, and grassy banks along drainage ditches.


Diet: The larvae eat rotting vegetable matter, grass seedlings and roots, and the bases of other young plants.

The European marsh crane fly lives in areas with mild winters, cool summers, and rainfall averaging about 23.5 inches (600 millimeters) a year. They prefer wet lawns, pastures, hay fields, and grassy banks along drainage ditches. (Illustration by Jonathan Higgins. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: Adults are weak fliers and are attracted to lights at night. They may accidentally enter houses and buildings.

Adults are most common in late summer. Females lay up to 280 black, shiny eggs in the soil, usually at night. They hatch within two weeks and grow rapidly to a maximum length of 1.1 inches (30 millimeters). They pupate in the soil in mid-July. The pupal stage lasts about two weeks. The adults emerge at sunset, leaving the pupal case partially sticking out of the soil, and mate immediately. Males live about seven days; females, four to five. There is one generation per year.


European marsh crane flies and people: The larvae strip the root hairs and kill parts of small trees in nurseries by chewing all the way around some stems.


Conservation status: This species is not considered endangered or threatened. ∎

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books:

Conniff, R. Spineless Wonders, Strange Tales from the Invertebrate World. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996.

Hubbell, S. Broadsides from the Other Orders. A Book of Bugs. New York: Random House, 1993.

Oldroyd, H. The Natural History of Flies. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1965.

Tavolacci, J., ed. Insects and Spiders of the World. Volume 4: Endangered Species-Gypsy Moth. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2003.

Periodicals:

Gerster, G. "Fly of the Deadly Sleep. Tsetse." National Geographic 170, no. 6 (December 1986): 814–832.

Moffett, M. W. "Flies That Fight." National Geographic 192, no. 5 (November 1997): 68–77.

Web sites:

"Beetles. True flies, including mosquitoes." BioKids. Critter Catalog. http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/information/Diptera.html (accessed on October 25, 2004).

"Diptera. Flies, mosquitoes." Ecowatch. http://www.ento.csiro.au/Ecowatch/Diptera/diptera.htm (accessed on October 25, 2004).

The Young Diptera Site. http://www.sel.barc.usda.gov/Diptera/youngent.htm (accessed on October 25, 2004).

Videos:

Bug City. Flies and mosquitoes. Wynnewood, PA: Schlessinger Media, 1998.

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