common crane flies

(Tipula spp.)


Tipula is a very common, very widespread, and very large genus of crane flies known as common crane flies. It occurs worldwide on every continent except Antarctica. There are about 2,400 Tipula species in 40 subgenera worldwide, more than 480 species in 27 subgenera in North America north of Mexico, and at least 38 species in 11 subgenera in Minnesota.

Common crane flies are found in humid areas with wet ground, often near streams or lakes.

common crane fly (Tipula sp.)
Photo by Alfredo Colon

Swarms of males fly above a bush or treetop in a mating “dance”. When a male seizes a female, the pair lands on foliage to mate.

The larvae feed on decaying vegetation, fungi, roots, foliage, and occasionally animal matter. Adults are short-lived and do not feed. They live just a few days, long enough to mate and lay eggs.


Common crane fly adults are 516 to 2916 (8 to 65 mm) in length and have a wingspan of up to 3 (75 cm). However, most species are no more than 1 (25 mm) long. They are usually brown or grayish-brown, or dull yellow. The body is long and slender, the legs are very long and thread-like, and the overall appearance is of a large mosquito.

The antennae are short and have 13 segments. Each segment has a whorl of hairs at the base.

The thorax has a deep V-shaped groove above.

The wings are clear or tinted brownish. The discal cell is present and cell 4 is petiolate. The radial sector (Rs) vein is usually long, the subcostal (Sc) vein ends far from the base of the Rs vein, and the M3 vein rises from the M4 vein.


Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas (Bell Herbarium) shows the genus Tipula occurring in every county in Minnesota. However, it lists the genus Tipula in the family Cecidomyiidae (gall and forest midges). The map at left does not include Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas records.



Diptera (flies)


Nematocera (long-horned flies)


Tipulomorpha (crane flies)


Tipuloidea (typical crane flies)


Tipulidae (large crane flies)




Subordinate Taxa

subgenus Acutipula

subgenus Arctotipula

subgenus Bellardina

subgenus Beringotipula

subgenus Hesperotipula

subgenus Labiotipula

subgenus Lindnerina

subgenus Lunatipula

subgenus Nippotipula

subgenus Nobilotipula

subgenus Odonatisca

subgenus Platytipula

subgenus Pterelachisus

subgenus Savtshenkia

subgenus Schummelia

subgenus Sinotipula

subgenus Tipula (European Crane Flies)

subgenus Trichotipula

subgenus Triplicitipula

subgenus Vestiplex

subgenus Yamatotipula





Common Names

common crane flies











Visitor Photos

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common crane fly (Tipula sp.)  


Saw that these little critters are considered rare in MN. I saw it before I even had my coffee, immediately out my front door on the stucco. Scared me good. 7:26am May 13, 2024.



Alfredo Colon

common crane fly (Tipula sp.) Photos











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Other Videos

Tipula larvae
Solito de Solis


Jul 8, 2013

Very young larvae of Diptera/Tipulidae/Tipulinae/Tipula (Crane fly or leatherjacket family)

(It would be Tipula (yamatotipula) sp )

Two giant mosquitoes joined together - Tipula


Feb 10, 2023

Two giant mosquitoes joined together - Tipula by @viking-productions

If you like you can support me on Ko-Fi , where you can buy me a virtual coffee.

I shot Two Giant Mosquitoes Conjoined. Mosquitoes were making love.

Tipula is a very large insect genus in the fly family Tipulidae (crane flies). The members of this genus are sometimes collectively called common crane flies. Tipula contains over 2,000 species located throughout the world.

Like all crane flies, Tipula species have long bodies and long legs, somewhat resembling large mosquitos. Adults generally have a body length of 15-20 mm. They are usually brown with clear or brownish wings. They feed on nectar and are active throughout the year. Tipula maggots are sometimes known as "leather jackets" due to their tough skin.

Tipula crane fly
Music and Gallery - Nature


Mar 2, 2023



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Location: 13834 Essex Trail, Woodwinds Neighborhood, Apple Valley, MN

common crane fly (Tipula sp.)

Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

common crane fly (Tipula sp.) Sightings






Created: 8/18/2023

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