of Natura
  Collecting Crane Flies


Aerial net sweeping is the basic method of collecting crane fly adults.  Various possible sites used by adults for hiding or resting can be explored with the net, and specimens can be taken either at such sites, or in the air as they fly.  Sweeping through their mating swarms is another method of collecting adults.  They can be collected early in the night by light trap, or using a white cloth sheet illuminated by light sources such as a black light or mercury vapor lamp.  Malaise traps have also proved to be a successful means of collecting adult flies.

Small sized cyanide jars are best for quick killing and avoiding self-inflicted leg loss of adult crane flies.  Avoid any shaking or jerking of the jars and avoid putting more than 10 flies at a time into the jars.  While the specimens are in their relaxation period, use a 10 cm fine Eye Dressing Forceps to hold the crane fly into a 2 by 3 inch #2, or slightly larger #3 drug envelope.  Flies were placed inside envelope with their wings perpendicular to the body and the legs folded below the body, with femora of fore and mid legs pointing to the front first and then bend the tibia and the rest of the legs towards the rear, and point also the hind legs toward the rear.

Eye Dressing Forceps and Drug Envelope Position flies inside envelope Position flies inside envelope

Mature larvae and pupae can be hand collected from various larval habitats and then killed by heat-fixing them for couple of minutes in boiling water. After boiling they should go into 80% ethanol.

Larva and Pupa of Tipula sp.


The dried flies may be fastened to the point by gluing the left side of the thorax to the point.  Only one side of the thorax is then obscured from the view.  The legs receive maximum protection from the point, pin and the labels.  The glue to be used can be shellac, finger nail polish, or china cement thinned with ethyl acetate.

Epiphragma solatrix Erioptera venusta Tipula fuliginosa

For detailed methods of collecting, preparation, and preservation of adults, see Byers (1961); for larvae, see Byers (1961) and Gelhaus (1986).


Byers, G.W. (1961) The crane fly genus Dolichopeza in North America. University of Kansas Sciences Bulletin 42(6):665-924.

Gelhaus, J.K. (1986) Larvae of the crane fly genus Tipula in North America (Diptera: Tipulidae). University of Kansas Sciences Bulletin 53(3):121-182.


  Last Updated: 07/28/2006
  Page 2005 James W. Fetzner Jr.
  All Photos by Chen Young, unless otherwise stated.
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