Grey larva/caterpillar crawling out of soil after rain.
February 6, 2010
We had these little guys swarm out of our recently weeded soil after it rained. They are about 1 to 1.5 inches long, grey with black short stripes, with a four-pronged tail they looks like a faux-face. Could they be some sort of beetle grub?
Los Angeles, CA
Hi Mary Jane,
These are the larvae of Crane Flies, and they are called Leather Jackets. You didn’t indicate what part of Los Angeles this happened, but we received reports in January of Leather Jackets in large numbers from Van Nuys and Canoga Park. We then received a comment that they might be the invasive introduced European Crane Flies, Tipula paludosa and Tipula oleracea. We are not qualified to make the species call on your Leather Jackets, which might be an invasive introduced species, or they may simply be one of the numerous native Crane Flies. We may try to contact Chen Young who runs the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania website to see if he can determine if they are native or exotic.
Wow, thanks! I live close to the Highland Park/Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles. We did have quite a few crane flies over the summer. It was creepy having so many (hundreds) crawl out of the soil.
Thanks for your time!
Chen Young responds
February 6, 2010
Good to hear from you. I have looked both of the images and none of them are the introduced European crane flies. Noticed the middle lobes of the larvae are very dark and sharp which is not the character for the European crane flies. The middle two lobes of the European crane fly larvae are soft and flesh like. I don’t have an image with me now at home but I will send you one Monday when I get to work at the museum. By the way, we are having a big snow storm and everything is closed for that matter thus I don’t think I will venture out to the museum to get the image.
As for adult flies you can also check here http://iz.carnegiemnh.org/cranefly/tipulinae.htm#Tipula_(Tipula)_paludosa for comparison of the two species. These two species have also been reported recently in Michigan, New York, New England states, and Utah. It will eventually in Pennsylvania.
Okay, I will send you image of the European crane flies on Monday.