Ctenophora, Tanyptera and Dictenidia Craneflies of Sherwood Forest NNR
Craneflies (Tipulidae) represent some of the more easily recognised insects, but they are not always welcomed by people with a fear of them, as their attraction to artificial light often leads to them turning up indoors. The pale brown colouration, long thin body and extraordinarily long legs of the more familiar Craneflies, means they are rarely offered a second look, but some species are much more spectacular in their colouration and markings.

Most impressive and spectacular among UK Craneflies, are the genera of Ctenophora, Tanyptera and Dictenidia. These are large species with several occuring in Nottinghamshire.

During the Spring and Summer of 2010, we were fortunate enough to come across two of these spectacular insects at Sherwood Forest Country Park in 2010 and that has helped to fuel a developing interest in the area's Diptera.

Diptera is a poorly recorded group, with Hoverflies (Syrphidae) possibly receiving most attention. Historically, most of the Sherwood Forest NNR's older Diptera records are credited to L.A. Carr, R.C. Bradley and C.J. Wainright. Thornley and Saunt, seem to have covered other Nottinghamshire sites around the turn of the last century, but little is known of more recent Diptera recorders.

The only recent work on Diptera at Sherwood Forest, are surveys by A. Godfrey at Sherwood Heath in 2003, 2004 and 2006 and more recently at the Sherwood Forest Country Park and Buck Gates area of Thoresby in 2010. We also did some invertebrate assemblage survey work on Budby South Forest in 2010, but have only recently touched on Diptera.

UK species of Ctenophora, Tanyptera and Dictenidia Craneflies
Ctenophora   C. flaveolata, C. ornata, C. pectinicornis, C. atrata, C. nigricornis
Tanyptera   T. atrata, T. nigricornis
Dictenidia   D. bimaculata
The two species we found in 2010 were Tanyptera nigricornis and a few weeks later, Ctenophora pectinicornis. Both were females and rather reluctant to fly and so easy to photograph. Both were quickly identified on return home. A second Tanyptera nigricornis (this time a male) was also found, but unfortunately not photographed at the time. Both these species are uncommon or rare in Nottinghamshire, but a chance find of a male Ctenophora ornata in July 2009, has subsequently proved to be the most interesting.
Ctenophora ornata (Meigen, 1818)
Present UK Status ... Ctenophora ornata has RDB1 status and classed as endangered and is perhaps the most beautifully marked of all four species known from Sherwood. There had been just six post-1960 records nationally. The most recent records are from three areas in the New Forest during the 1970's, Windsor Forest in 1988 (Ref: NBN Gateway/Natural History Museum) and again at the New Forest in 2008 (Ref: Dipterists Forum, Cranefly Recording Scheme). The lack of recent records had suggested a serious contraction of its former range, but 2013 saw increased numbers at Windsor, but seemingly, not at other known localities.

The two Sherwood Forest records (on 2nd July 2009 and 1st August 2013) are the most northerly in the UK, with other known locations being areas of the New Forest and at Windsor Great Park.

Ctenophora ornata is a Cranefly of ancient broadleaved woodlands, where it breeds within dead and rotting wood. Beech is the favoured host tree in the UK, but other trees are utilised on the continent and it has been recorded near living ancient Oaks.

Present Nottinghamshire Status ... The male in the above photographs was the second record for Nottinghamshire and attracted to an MV light at Clipstone Old Quarter on 01/08/13. Although there is obviously a viable breeding population at Sherwood Forest, the closeness of both records suggests that it is extremely localised.
Ctenophora pectinicornis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Present UK Status ... Notable. Another widespread but local Cranefly, with a similar UK range to C. bimaculata. It favours old broadleaved woodlands, containing dead or deseased wood, in which the larva develops. There are 30 post-1960 UK sites.

Present Nottinghamshire Status ... Sherwood Forest is probably the best locality for C. pectinicornis in the county, with several records. J. W. Carr lists two historical records by W.G. Blatch (no date) and one by L.A. Carr in 1912 (Ref: Carr, J.W. 1916. The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire. Nottingham: J.& H. Bell Ltd)

The most recent records of this large and spectacularly marked Cranefly both came during the Summer of 2010, when we found a female on a fresh log pile at Sherwood Forest CP in mid-June 2010 (above photographs) and another found in the Buck Gates area of the NNR, by Andy Godfrey (Ref: Saproxylic Diptera Survey of Birklands and Bilhaugh SSSI and SAC, Nottinghamshire - A report to Natural England, October 2010)
Tanyptera nigricornis (Meigen, 1818)
Present UK Status ... RDB3. Less common than the former species. Records are centred in the Yorkshire and Lancashire areas of the UK, but Tanyptera nigricornis does occur in some southern counties and there are records for Scotland.

Present Nottinghamshire Status ... Carr's book lists two historical Sherwood Forest records, by R.C. Bradley in 1892 and L.A. Carr in 1912 (Ref: Carr, J.W. 1916. The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire. Nottingham: J.& H. Bell Ltd). The female below was found on a small Birch at Sherwood Forest CP in May 2010.

A second record followed in early June 2010, with a male found resting on Umbellifers, near to the original location of the female illustrated.
Dictenidia bimaculata (Linnaeus, 1761)
Present UK Status ... The NBN Gateway is confusing, seperately giving records for both Ctenophora bimaculata and Dictenidia bimaculata (Dictenidia bimaculata was formerly Ctenophora bimaculata) This a species of ancient woodland, but not entrely confined to this habitat. Records are widespread across much of southern England and including Yorkshire. There are a few records from Scotland and in southern Ireland. Dictenidia bimaculata breeds in the decaying wood of deciduous trees, including Birch, Sallow and Oak.

Present Nottinghamshire Status ... There are three historical records from C.J. Wainwright at Sherwood Forest near Edwinstowe in 1889, at South Leverton in 1900 and at Bunny 1913 (Ref: Carr, J.W. 1916. The Invertebrate Fauna of Nottinghamshire. Nottingham: J.& H. Bell Ltd) The only recent Nottinghamshire record we can trace from the information we have to hand, is of an adult found at Sherwood Forest in 1960 (Ref: Natural England East Midlands 2005 ISR Data), but this Cranefly should turn up again at Sherwood Forest, perhaps more frequently than the current number of records would suggest.