This species of invertebrates_freshwater, or daddy-long-legs is one of the most common craneflies in Britain (1). The larvae, known as 'leatherjackets' are notorious pests of grass and agricultural crops, and are so called because they have a tough, leathery outer layer. The adults are familiar insects, often entering houses towards the end of summer (3); they have a slender, pale brown body, and large greyish wings with a brown front margin (1). The prominent dangling legs have earned the species the common name 'cranefly', as they are reminiscent of cranes, long-legged birds (3). Like all flies, this species has one pair of true membranous wings, the second pair of wings are modified drumstick-like appendages known as 'halteres', which aid in balancing (4).
Adult craneflies emerge between June and September, although in Britain peak emergence occurs from mid-August to mid-September. Mating occurs shortly after emergence and females lay one batch of eggs amongst grass and other vegetation (5). Around 14 days later, the larvae hatch; they feed on the bases of plant stems and roots, and are often serious pests. They spend the winter in the soil in the third larval stage or 'instar'; they can continue to be active in temperatures as low as 5°C, but as temperatures warm up in spring they become increasingly active. Larvae reach 3-4 cm in length, and head for the surface to pupate in summer. This crane fly remains in the pupal stage for two weeks before emerging (5).
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