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Amazing little Phantom Crane Fly

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2023 10:47 pm
by boghaunter1
Many years ago while out collecting dragonflies on a favorite stretch of backroad, (the same road where I also collected those ab. Mourning Cloaks shown in one of the Lepidoptera threads)... I came across a beautiful & unique looking (in flight) spectacle I had never seen before (or have since!) :shock: :shock: . It was a startingly colorful little cranefly (for a cranefly that is!) commonly called a Phantom Crane Fly - Bittacomorpha clavipes. In doing a little research I found that it is quite widespread in eastern N. Am. right up to the eastern edge of the Rocky mountains. Even though it is quite widespread in it's distribution it is uncommon/rare in the central, drier prairie regions of N. Am.. It likes cool, damp, shady woods along nearby water sources. As mentioned before, it was the only specimen I have ever seen up here in central NE Sask., CANADA. It's long wispy, thread-like legs (flattened & elongated at the ends) are marked with alternating & very contrasting rings of black & white & are held spread wide to the sides as it "floats or hovers" about in the air. The delicate body, fluttering wings & inner parts of the legs completely disappear in flight giving it it's distinctive "phantom" name. I was absolutely stumped when I first came upon it floating about... I didn't have a clue as to what I was looking at! Luckily I managed to net it just before it veered off the shady road where it would have, no doubt, tried to get away, & would have quickly & completely blended in & disappeared among the underbrush. Upon gingerly taking it out of the net I immediately recognized it as a crane fly... WOW... what a little beauty... looked like something that should be flying around in the tropics! :o :o Due to its delicate & fragile build I ended up just preserving it in a vial of alcohol. Below are a few clear closeup YouTube videos I found of it sitting/walking about on foliage & a second of it's unique appearance in flight (0:40 to 2:20). Anyone else familiar with this species?

John K.