This crane fly is a generally common but minor pest, and is usually of most significance in gardens and allotments. The larvae (known as 'leather-jackets') cause damage to the roots of grasses, especially in the early spring when patches of dead or dying plants may appear. The larvae also attack the roots, stolons and underground parts of stems of many other plants, including various ornamentals, soft-fruit crops and vegetables.
Adults of this often abundant crane fly are most numerous in May, and eggs are then deposited at random on the soil. The eggs hatch in the early autumn, after a period of summer diapause. The larvae then feed on the subterranean parts of various plants before overwintering. Larvae resume feeding in the early spring and most complete their development by the middle of April. Pupation takes place in the soil, and the pupa wriggles to the surface shortly before the adult emerges.
Adult up to 20 mm long, mainly black, yellow and golden-yellow; head with a distinct black triangular mark; prescutum with three conspicuous black markings (Fig. 240); wings up to 15 mm long and clear, apart from a pale yellow or light brown stigma. Egg 0.8 x 0.4 mm, oval and black
Fig. 241 Crane fly eggs: (a) Nephrotoma appendiculata; (b) Tipula paludosa (x20).
(Fig. 241a). Larva up to 30 mm long, greyish-brown; prothoracic segment with a pair of small humps dorsally; posterior papillae distinctive -the lateral pair on the spiracular disc longer than the dorsal pair and the anal lobes all rounded (cf. common crane fly, Tipula paludosa, below) (Fig. 242a).
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