Crane Fly

Diptera: Tipulidae


Crane fly adults are slender insects with transparent, smoky wings and extremely long legs. Crane fly larvae are white, cylindrical, and worm-like, growing up to 4 cm long, and are often called leather jackets due to their tough skin. They are usually aquatic, living in streams and lakes, and in moist places such as under leaf litter in ditches and sometimes underground. The Crane fly adults do not feed but the larvae feed on the roots of turf grass lawns.

Life Cycle

Crane flies undergo complete metamorphosis, meaning that they develop through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult (fly). The adult female generally lays her eggs directly in water such as lakes, creeks, or in moist soil, or on lawns. Larvae hatch within one to two weeks depending on the environmental conditions and feed on the roots of grasses. The grown larvae before pupation overwinter below the soil surface. Adults emerge from pupae in the soil in late summer. Crane fly adults live for several days, typically just long enough to mate and reproduce. This insect pest has one generation per year.


Crane fly adults do not bite or sting humans, or animals, but the larval stage can become a major pest on turf, pasture grass, and golf courses. Crane fly larvae live in the top layers of soil and feed on grass roots, resulting in the leaves yellowing and thinning or the plant stunting or killing.