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Cranefly (Molophilus)

Taxonomic group

Tipulidae: Molophilus

Diagnostic features

Molophilus is a cranefly genus within the Eriopterini tribe, with relatively small larvae that lack the swollen tail segments of other Eriopterini. Like other tipulids the general body form is worm-like, with the head retracted into the body. The spiracular disc (breathing apparatus at the tip of the tail) is surrounded by 5 short rounded lobes, each with dark pigmentation.

Typical habitats

Molophilus larvae are found in small proportions of stream samples, but they are found in bush covered and farmland streams.


New Zealand studies have shown they feed on plant detritus and a range of streambed algae.

Indicator value

  • Hard bottom: 5
  • Soft bottom: 6.3

The tolerance values (ranging from 0 to 10) give an indication of which are the sensitive taxa (values of 8 or more) and which are the tolerant taxa (values of 3 or less). For more information see: Indicator species

Molophilus larvae are among many taxa that are not strongly associated with particularly good or bad water quality. They have mid-range tolerance values of 5 (hard bottom sites) and 6.3 (soft bottom sites).