Autumn’s winged messengers

crane fly on sumach
As Autumn sets in, leggy crane flies start to blunder into homes, mimicking moths in their attraction to light. They are not the most stylish of Nature’s creatures but this one manages to look almost elegant hanging under the pastel Autumn leaves of my sumach tree.
tipula paludosaThis is probably a female specimen of the UK’s most common variety, tipula paludosa. Not a thing of beauty, but an important part of the ecosystem. Its grubs, known as leatherjackets, feed on the roots of grass, which does not please those who love their lawns. However, they are a valuable source of food for many birds. I enjoy watching the green woodpeckers drilling for them. The crows quarter my lawn systematically, voracious terminators of leatherjackets. In the process, they incidentally save me the job of aerating the lawn and lifting the moss.
insect on sedum
insect on sedum
Needless to say, there are several varieties of crane fly in the UK. The best place I have found for identification is Nature Spot. I think this little crane fly resting on sedum flowers may be tipula confusa. And yes, I am confused.
This one is a little more impressive. It could be nephrotoma appendiculata, the spotted crane fly. Or it could be nephrotoma flavescens.
insect on leaf
But I think it is, in fact, nephrotoma flavipalpis. This is the first time I have noticed one of these in my garden.
crane fly on leaf
Tomorrow’s Autumn post will be prettier, I promise.

5 thoughts on “Autumn’s winged messengers

  1. Love your bug photos. We have similar varieties here and the white ibis (as well as the crows) regularly pick through the lawn. You’re right – great aerators.

    PS – No need to promise prettier autumn photos; you’ve already posted some gems including these. Cheers!

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