Currently viewing the category: "Dance Flies"

Subject: Bug in birdbath
Location: Northern California
April 7, 2017 7:29 am
I saw this bug yesterday, April 6, on the rock in my birdbath. I cannot identify it and would appreciate your input. Northern California location.
Thank you!
Signature: Kate Schaffner

Dance Fly

Dear Kate,
Both the antennae and the proboscis lead us to believe this is some type of Fly in the order Diptera, but alas, we do not recognize it.  We will contact Eric Eaton for assistance.

Eric Eaton Responds
This is some kind of dance fly in the family Empididae, and by the looks of it a female (males have a bulbous rear end).  Very common early spring flies.
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

Dance Fly

BugGuide has some similar looking images from the genus Hilara, the Balloon Flies.

Thank you so much Daniel and Eric!

Correct Identification?
Location: Battle Ground, WA
April 17, 2011 10:06 pm
I just wanted to thank you for all the excellent resources you provide people with.
My kids captured this insect worried it was a Flying Termite. I used several of the ”Buglinks” and found the bug.
My question is why is the Dance Fly given different scientific names?
Dance Fly – Empis spectabilis and
Dance Fly – Rhamphomyia longicauda.
If the enclosed pictures are not the ”Dance Fly”, could you point me in the right path.
But if I am correct with the Identification,
could you add the picure to your excellent site?
referenced also:
Signature: daddyo

Dance Fly, we presume

Dear daddyo,
The first part of your question has a very easy answer.  Dance Fly is a general name for a member of the family Empididae (see BugGuide) and within that family are many different species.  Many of those species do not have unique common names, but they do have unique scientific binomial names.  The two names you are questioning are species specific and the names include both genus and species indicators.  We believe you are correct that this is a Dance Fly, though we eagerly welcome the input of a dipterist or other knowledgeable person regarding the matter.  We are pleased to post your photos and inquiry, and we will also be creating a Dance Fly subcategory for our website.

Dance Fly we believe

Mosquito with a puff-ball?
We were hiking in Citico Creek Wilderness of the Cherokee National Forest of east Tennessee, when we ran into groups of large mosquito-like insects flying around with large, white, air-filled balls, seemingly made of a material produced by the insect. They were flying around each other, as if in a mating dance! Occasionally one would land on a leaf and I was able to get this photo, what is it and what is the ball for? By the way, he is sitting on the leaf of an almost extinct American Chestnut sapling!
Dan Vance
Cleveland, TN

Hi Dan,
This has us mystified. It is a Dipteran but we do not know anything about the species nor the air balloon phenomenon. We have requested assistance from Eric Eaton. Here is Eric’s speedy response: “Hi, Daniel: That fly from Tennessee is a male dance fly (family Empididae). Males of some species present females with prey they have killed, as a pre-nuptial mating gift. This probably preoccupies her from eating him ! A few species “giftwrap” their prey in balloons like that shown in the photo. A few devious species will simply present an empty balloon. Cheapskates! This courtship behavior is not uncommon, but rarely seen, so kudos to the photographer for being so observant and curious. Find more images of this under Empididae at . Eric “