T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Cranefly (Wingless) Family: Tipulidae

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Suborder: Nematocera
Infraorder: Tipulomorpha
Superfamily: Tipuloidea
Family: Tipulidae
Common name: Wingless cranfly, Wingless Winter Crane Fly, Snow Flies.

The photo below is a brachypterous form (short winged) of crane fly in the family Tipulidae. There are a number of this family in NZ that are flightless and very little research has been done on them. They only have small wing stubs, not complete wings so they cannot fly. Their legs are a lot more robust than average crane fly legs, making them pretty strong walkers. Their larvae feed on dead vegetation, moss, lichen and animal droppings while the adults never eat, only drink water.

There is one group in the cranfly genus Chionea that is commonly called Snow flies or Wingless Winter Crane Flies. They are insects that are naturally attracted to the coldest temperatures and are found in alpine areas in the ice and snow. To adapt to the cold temperatures they have an altered biochemistry that enables their body fluids to drop in temperatures below the freezing point of water. By not being able to fly they do not get blown away in powerful winds and with no wing muscles they don’t expend energy and heat in fatal amounts. 

This wingless cranfly was photographed in bush near Huntly late June.