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Crane Fly Larvae

Female crane flies carry eggs within their abdomens and place them in moist soil or in water to hatch. The emerging larvae are small, with extremely tough skin. Crane fly larvae are thus sometimes referred to as leatherjackets.

Crane fly larvae may be green, white or brown in color, and some are so translucent that their internal organs are visible. Crane fly larvae are segmented and appear worm-like. They have small tentacles, or projections, which are extended if the larvae are handled or squeezed. They vary in size depending on species.

During the daytime, terrestrial crane fly larvae hide underground and surface on warm nights. These larvae feed primarily in the fall and prefer decaying plants, fungi, roots of plants and turf grass, which often causes damage to gardens and lawns. Crane fly larvae feed upon every available food source until they pupate. When they become adults, they rarely eat.

Crane flies act as a food source for animals such as moles and skunks. Land animals will excavate larvae and pupae, while turtles and fish consume developing larvae and pupae found in water.

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