What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Adult Trichoceridae are known in the northern hemisphere as 'winter gnats' or 'winter crane flies', reflecting their conspicuous swarming activity on sunny days in the cooler months of the year. A winter activity peak is also observed amongst southern temperate species, although adults of Nothotrichocera species may be encountered year round.

Adult trichocerids may rest in caves and similarly shaded places throughout the year, with aestivation suggested as an explanation for their presence in the hotter months.

Larvae are saprophagous, feeding on decaying organic matter, fungi, dung and even carrion.   Late larvae and pupae may be found in soil where some larvae exhibit aestivation and/or diapause.


Adult Trichoceridae resemble modest-sized Tipulidae, from which they may be distinguished by the presence of ocelli, and, in all Australian species, by the second anal vein being short and strongly curved towards the wing margin.

Trichocerid larvae are cylindrical, eucephalic, amphipneustic, with pubescent cuticle and with four lobes surrounding the posterior spiracles. There are four larval instars prior to the 1-2 week long pupal phase.


Trichoceridae are predominantly distributed in temperate regions of both hemispheres, or in montane tropical areas. In Australia the dozen or so species are known from alpine and subalpine areas of the south-east and Tasmania, with one from Pemberton in Western Australia. The genus Nothotrichocera has an austral distribution.

  • Trichoceridae