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Crane Flies and Leatherjackets—Tipula spp.

Crane flies, major pests in Europe, are becoming an increasing problem in North America. Two species, the European crane fly (Tipula paludosa) and the common crane fly (Tipula oleracea), have become established. Crane fly damage is done by the larvae, called leatherjackets (because of their tough skin), that feed on plant roots, rhizomes, and foliage, using their rasping mouthparts. In the case of lawns, damage to grass, expressed as yellow spots and bare patches, can be extensive, but additional damage is caused by skunks digging for the larvae.

The flies have bodies about 3/4 inch long, very long legs, about 4 inches long, and the larvae are about 1 inch long. Looking like giant mosquitoes, adult flies can gather in great numbers, but do not bite or sting. Cultural and biological controls have been found to be effective.

European crane fly common crane fly crane fly larvae—leatherjackets
European crane fly—Tipula paludosa. Common crane fly—Tipula oleracea. Crane fly larvae, known as leatherjackets. because of their tough skin.
leatherjacket damage    
Larval feeding damage on the stems of fir plants.    

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Identification and Control Information (each will open in a new window)




[Photos, left to right: David Cappaert, Michigan State University,; Janco Tanis,,; Canadian Forest Service Archive, Canadian Forest Service,; Petr Kapitola, State Phytosanitary Administration,]

It is the policy of the State of Maine to minimize reliance on pesticides. The Maine Department of Agriculture and the Maine IPM Council encourage everyone to practice integrated pest management and to use pesticides only as a last resort. The mention of pesticides in the fact sheets linked to these pages does not imply an endorsement of any product. Be sure that any product used is currently registered and follow all label directions.