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Phantom Crane Fly - Bittacomorpha clavipes

Phantom Crane Fly - Bittacomorpha clavipes
Fort Bragg, Cumberland County, North Carolina, USA
April 26, 2004
Have this marked as Bittacomorpha clavipes.

Nice photo, different family
Yup, I think that species is distinctive in the east. It's in a separate family, Ptychopteridae, not Tipulidae. They confuse the heck out of me.

Nice photo--I like the detail on the head. I always see these flying slowly across fields, legs spread. They look like an easy target for dragonflies and birds, but I don't think I've ever seen one get caught.

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

It is not always easy to separate them, indeed. After a while you get the jizz, but there are a few characters. The suture on the mesonotum of the Tipulidae is V-shaped, in the Ptychopteridae it is U-shaped. The latter is nicely visible in the species from Japan given here:

Helpful in the field may sometimes be that the antennae in Ptychopteridae are often relatively longer, slender and directed upwards or even backwards (as in the picture above). In Ptychopteridae, too, there usually is a cluster of cross-veins close together (again, see picture above, not visible in the linked image because of the black wing marking) which is often not the case in Tipulidae.

One of the official characters in the presence of a short side-branch on the stalk of the halter in the Ptychopteridae. That is (as far as I know) not found anywhere else in the Diptera.

Time for a breather...


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