British Insects: the Families of Diptera


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Daddy-long-legs, Crane-flies (the larvae being ‘Leatherjackets’).

Adult insects. Medium-sized to large (of wing-span (6-)10–65 mm); slender-bodied; stilt-legged. The legs readily shed. Antennae 10–39 segmented; ‘simple’. Ocelli absent. The maxillary palps 3–5 segmented; drooping (long, with the terminal segment much longer than the preceding one). Vibrissae absent. Thorax with the dorsal suture continuous across the middle. The dorsal suture deeply V-shaped. Wing veins reaching the margin 10–12. Wing vein 7 reaching the margin. Wings with a discal cell; without a sub-apical cell; without a closed anal cell. The costa extending around the entire wing. Sub-costa apparent; joining vein 1 well short of the costa. The leading edge veins not noticeably stronger than the rest. Wing vein 6 present; reaching the wing margin. Wing vein 7 present; reaching the wing margin. Wings with the lower calypter much reduced or absent; patterned, or unpatterned.

Larvae and pupae. The larvae aquatic (or semi-aquatic), or terrestrial (in wet soil or decomposing vegetable matter); phytophagous and saprophagous (Leatherjackets being notoriously destructive pests); hemicephalic to acephalic. The pupae without a puparium (the last larval skin remaining attached to the posterior abdominal segments).

Comments. The wings narrow, with veins of roughly equal strength.

Classification. Suborder Nematocera; Division Tipulomorpha; Superfamily Tipuloidea.

British representation. 87 species in Britain. Genera 8; Ctenophora, Dictenidia, Dolichopeza, Prionocera, Nephrotoma, Nigrotipula, Tanyptera, Tipula (the latter representing about 60 of the species).

Illustrations. • Ctenophora, Dictenidia, Dolichopeza, Nephtotoma, Tanyptera, Tipula (from Walker). • Dolichopeza albipes (Original genus description. Silver-footed Long-legs: B. Ent. 062). • Dolichopeza albipes (dissections: B. Ent. 062). • Dolichopeza albipes (B. Ent. 062, legend+text). • Dolichopeza albipes (B. Ent. 062, text cont.). • Ctenophora ornata (Ornamented Gnat: B. Ent. 005). • Ctenophora ornata: B. Ent. 005, legend+text. • Ctenophora ornata: B. Ent. 005, text cont.. • Tipula flavolineata (Long-horned Long-legs: B. Ent. 493). • Tipula flavolineata: B. Ent. 493, legend+text. • Tipula flavolineata: B. Ent. 493, text cont..

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. British insects: the families of Diptera. Version: 1st January 2012.’.