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Empididae - Dance-flies



BRACHYCERA, Asilomorpha, Empidoidea Number of British species: 208

Size: T-L

Difficulty: 1-3

Scheme: Covered by the Empids and Dollies recording scheme


Minute to large (1-12 mm, sometimes larger), slender to robust, pallid to dark flies, in several genera with powerful, piercing mouthparts. Head small with relatively large eyes, in some cases holoptic, often with an incision at level of antennae; antenna usually with 3 segments of which the third is the largest and bears a short or long, usually apical arista or style; mouthparts short to strongly elongate, in the latter case projecting forward or downward toward the fore legs. Wing clear or (partially) tinged, in some cases with a stigma spot, or with a distinct wing pattern; vein R4+5 often forked; cell dm almost always present. Legs powerful, usually long and slender; in some cases fore legs raptorial, adapted to catching and holding on to prey.


The larvae prey on other insects, mainly larvae of Diptera living in the ground, on organic matter, or in decaying wood; some are aquatic. The adults are originally predators as well, mainly on flying Diptera, but some species forage by walking about on tree trunks or prey on aquatic insects, including those that have just pupated near the shoreline. Some adults visit flowers and partially or entirely feed on pollen and nectar. Many species form swarms, the males offering a prey or a silken balloon, which may or may not contain a prey, to the female as part of the mating ritual. In Hormopeza large swarms of both sexes have been observed in smoke of wood fires.


families/brachycera/old_brachycera/empididae.txt · Last modified: 2008/05/24 17:01 (external edit)     Back to top
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