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A Graphic Guide for Identification of Adult European Craneflies;

Tipula paludosa and T. oleracea (Diptera:Tipulidae)

Eric LaGasa,  Washington State Department of Agriculture


The cranefly known as the European cranefly in the Pacific Northwest, Tipula paludosa Meigan, is an introduced exotic pest first found in the region in 1965 in British Columbia, Canada.  Since then, it has gradually spread into Washington State and parts of Western Oregon and has become the most serious economic pest of lawns, pastures and hayfields in the northwest.

In 1998, a second, closely related cranefly species from Europe was found in the Pacific Northwest.  The new species, Tipula oleracea L., is almost identical in appearance to T. paludosa and similar biologically.  It is also considered a serious pest of turf and other plants in its native Europe.  However, T. oleracea can complete two generations per year (European cranefly has one) and adult T. oleracea emerge in the spring as well as the fall, when most European craneflies emerge

Between 1998 and 1999, Tipula oleracea was found in a few locations in Western British Columbia, Western Washington, and Western Oregon, but the extent of the currently infested area is not known. The following graphics and information have been developed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to help future efforts to delimit the distribution of T. oleracea in North America.


As mentioned above, Tipula paludosa and T. oleracea are extremely similar species, but they may be separated by the characters presented below.  In general appearance, they are large craneflies with grayish-brown bodies.  Male craneflies may have a wingspan from 1 to 1 inches.  Females are larger, with a wingspan of 1 to 2 inches.
Female Tipula oleracea
male T. paludosa side view
Female T. Oleracea side view
The wings are slightly cloudy, with a darker area and a white stripe along the leading edge - visible in the following pictures against dark and light backgrounds.  Other than the leading edge stripes, there are no pigmented areas on the veins or cross-veins and no other spots or "pictures" in the wings.

Figure 4. T. oleracea wing, white background.

T. oleracea wing

Figure 5. T. oleracea wing, dark background.

T. oleracea wing


A very clear character for distinguishing the two species apart is the separation of the compound eyes on the ventral surface (underside) of the head, as shown in the following figures.  (Character from Brodo, 1994)
Figure 6. Tipula oleracea ventral eye space
Figure 7. Tipula paludosa ventral eye space

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