Long Legged Fly: Essential Facts and Fascinating Insights

The long-legged fly is a fascinating creature found in various environments. These small, slender insects often showcase metallic-green, blue, or copper-colored bodies, giving them a distinct and eye-catching appearance1. Their long legs are not just for show; they serve a practical purpose, as these flies are known predators of smaller, soft-bodied insects like aphids and thrips2.

Due to their predatory nature, long-legged flies are considered beneficial in controlling garden pests. They are commonly found in irrigated areas, making them a frequent visitor in many gardens throughout the United States2. If you come across one of these metallic beauties in your own garden, take a moment to appreciate their role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Overview of Long Legged Flies

Dolichopodidae Family

Long-legged flies belong to the Dolichopodidae family, which is a large and diverse group of insects.

Order Diptera

These flies are part of the order Diptera, which means they are true flies with one pair of wings.

Appearance and Coloration

Long-legged flies are known for their striking metallic colors that vary across the family. Here are some common hues:

  • Green
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Bronze
  • Emerald

These flies are small and slender, with clear or marked wings. They have long legs that give them a distinct appearance. The long-legged fly is an example of these metallic colored insects with long legs and clear wings.

Comparison of Coloration:

Color Appearance
Green Bright and eye-catching
Blue Shiny and metallic
Red Deep and iridescent
Copper Lustrous and metallic
Gold Shimmering and reflective
Bronze Rich and warm in tone
Emerald Vibrant and attention-grabbing

These flies are not only visually striking but also play a role in controlling other small pest insects. By understanding their appearance and characteristics, we can appreciate and identify these unique creatures more easily.

Biology and Life Cycle

Eggs

Long-legged flies lay their eggs individually or in small clumps, usually on leaves or other surfaces near gardens, grasslands, and wetlands. These eggs are tiny and typically hatch within a few days, depending on the environment and species.

Larvae

Upon hatching, the long-legged fly larvae (also called maggots) emerge and begin feeding on various organic materials like decaying leaves and other small organisms. The larvae go through several instars, or growth stages, before reaching the pupal stage.

  • Characteristic features of larvae:
    • Short and stout body
    • Lack of developed antennae
    • Feeding on organic matter

Pupa

The pupal stage is when the long-legged fly undergoes complete metamorphosis, transforming from a larva to an adult within a protective cocoon-like casing. This stage can last from several days to a few weeks, again depending on the species and surrounding conditions.

Adults

Adult long-legged flies are small (typically around ¼”), slender, and often metallic (green, copper, bronze, or blue) in color with clear or marked wings and long legs. They can be found in various habitats, including gardens, grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands.

Comparison of life stages:

Life Stage Size Appearance Feeding Habits
Egg Tiny Laid on leaves or surfaces N/A
Larva Small Short, stout body; lack of developed antennae Organic matter
Pupa Similar to Larva Encased in cocoon-like structure N/A
Adult Around ¼” Metallic color, long legs, clear or marked wings Predatory insects

In summary, the life cycle of long-legged flies involves four main stages: eggs, larvae, pupa, and adults. While their size and appearance vary across these stages, they all play a vital role in the fly’s development.

Habitat and Distribution

Meadows and Gardens

Long-legged flies are often found in meadows and gardens as these habitats provide:

  • Abundant flower resources for feeding
  • Adequate spaces for breeding and laying eggs

For example, they can help control pest populations in these areas by preying on small insects such as aphids and mites.

Woodlands and Forests

In woodlands and forests, long-legged flies can be found in:

  • Leaf litter and decaying organic matter
  • On tree trunks and branches

This habitat supports their primary food source of small insects and also protects them from predators like birds.

Landscapes and Urban Areas

Long-legged flies are also found in landscapes and urban areas, where they can inhabit:

  • Parks and recreational areas
  • Domestic gardens and green spaces

Here are some important characteristics of long-legged flies:

  • Belong to the Animalia kingdom, Arthropoda phylum, and Insecta class
  • Medium to small, slender flies with metallic green, blue, or copper bodies
  • Long legs and clear or marked wings
  • Native to various regions, including Mexico
Habitat Examples Benefits
Meadows & Gardens Feeding on nectar, controlling pests Supports plant diversity, reduces pests
Woodlands & Forests Preying on small insects, laying eggs on tree branches Maintains ecological balance, helps decomposition
Landscapes & Urban Areas Living in parks, green spaces Enhances biodiversity, supports ecosystem services

Pros of having long-legged flies:

  • Help control garden pests
  • Act as pollinators for some plants
  • Maintain ecological balance

Cons of having long-legged flies:

  • May become an annoyance if found indoors
  • Some species are known to bite humans, causing mild discomfort

Behavior and Predation

Prey and Feeding Habits

Long legged flies, metallic-green to blue in color, are common in most gardens and primarily inhabit irrigated areas. They are predators of various small, soft-bodied insects like:

  • Aphids
  • Thrips
  • Young caterpillars
  • Mites

These predators provide benefits to gardeners since they are known to keep a number of plant pests under control, thus protecting their plants from damage.

Predator-Prey Interactions

Long legged flies actively hunt their prey by chasing and capturing them. Their predation on pests like aphids and mites helps maintain a balanced garden ecosystem and offers a natural way to control pests. Their feeding habits are particularly beneficial for plants as they reduce the need for chemical pesticides.

Comparison Table: Long Legged Fly Prey

Prey Impact on Plants Importance of Long Legged Fly Predation
Aphids Damage leaves and stems, transmit plant diseases Controls aphid population, prevents plant damage
Mites Damage leaves, spread disease Keeps mite populations in check, protects plants
Thrips Damage flowers and leaves, cause plant deformation Limits thrip populations, safeguards plant health
Young caterpillars Eat leaves, cause defoliation Reduces caterpillar numbers, preserves plant foliage

Courtship and Mating

Long legged flies exhibit intricate courtship rituals involving series of displays, such as:

  • Male flies extending and waving their wings
  • Males offering females a prey item as a nuptial gift

Once the female accepts the male’s advances, mating occurs. Their courtship and mating behaviors play a vital role in maintaining their population, ensuring they can continue providing their beneficial role as natural predators in a garden ecosystem.

Role in the Ecosystem

Beneficial Insects

Long-legged flies are helpful arthropods in the ecosystem. They are beneficial insects because:

  • Predators: They feed on small insects and pests like aphids, mites, and thrips.
  • Pollinators: Their adult stage involves visiting flowers for nectar, aiding in pollination.

Garden Helpers

These flying insects make excellent garden helpers due to their predatory behavior:

  • Pest control: They contribute to the natural reduction of harmful pests.
  • Minimal damage: Long-legged flies do not harm plants or crops.

Food Source for Wildlife

Long-legged flies serve as a food source for various wildlife species, including:

  • Birds
  • Spiders
  • Other insect-eating predators

In summary, long-legged flies play vital roles as beneficial insects, garden helpers, and a food source for wildlife. Their predatory nature helps regulate pests, they assist in pollination, and they contribute to the food chain within the ecosystem.

Identification and Management

Fly Identification

Long-legged flies are medium to small, slender flies with distinct features such as:

These flies can often be found on tree bark, soil, and vegetation.

Potential Pests

While long-legged flies can be beneficial for controlling harmful pests in gardens, they also prey on certain insects causing a scarcity. Their main targets include:

  • Aphids
  • Thrips
  • Young caterpillars
  • Mites

Control Methods

In most situations, long-legged flies are considered beneficial for gardening and aren’t harmful to humans. However, there may still be reasons to manage their population.

Pros:

  • Effectively controls harmful insect pests
  • Contributes to a balanced ecosystem

Cons:

  • Predator to some beneficial insects
  • May negatively affect certain plant species

To control long-legged fly populations:

  1. Use physical barriers like netting to protect plants
  2. Utilize natural enemies, such as specific predatory insects
  3. Employ responsible pesticide use (if necessary and allowed)

In general, carefully monitoring and managing insect populations in your garden will maintain a balanced ecosystem and ensure better plant health.

Related Flies

Crane Flies

Crane flies are a type of fly belonging to the family Tipulidae, which are often mistaken for giant mosquitoes. They have:

  • Long, slender bodies
  • Extremely long legs
  • Two wings

Examples of crane flies include Tipula and Nephrotoma genera. Crane flies are not considered pest insects or parasites and are mostly harmless to humans.

Robber Flies

Robber flies, or asilidae, are known for their aggressive, predatory behavior. They have:

  • A strong, stout body
  • Large eyes
  • Short, sharp proboscis

Examples include Efferia and Proctacanthus genera. Robber flies are predators and can help control pest insects.

Features Crane Flies Robber Flies
Appearance Slender Stout
Legs Long Short
Predatory No Yes
Pest Control No Yes

Bee Flies

Bee flies, from the family Bombyliidae, resemble bees and are characterized by:

  • Fuzzy appearance
  • Bee-like colors
  • Feeding on nectar

Examples include Bombylius and Villa genera. Bee flies may help with pollination but some species are parasites on other insects.

Flower Flies

Flower flies, also known as syrphid flies, mimic bees and wasps and have:

  • Bright colors
  • Stripes on their abdomen
  • Buzzing flight pattern

Examples are Eristalis and Syrphus genera. Flower flies are beneficial as they pollinate plants and prey on pest insects like aphids.

Here’s a summary of their characteristics:

  • Crane flies: Long legs, slender, non-predatory
  • Robber flies: Stout, predatory, pest control
  • Bee flies: Fuzzy, pollinators, some species are parasites
  • Flower flies: Mimic bees and wasps, pollinators, aphid predators

Resources and Further Reading

Lists and Guidebooks

For identifying and learning about long-legged flies, there are some helpful resources available to get started. One example is the Texas A&M University guide, offering a brief description, photos, and useful information on the fly’s metallic-colored body and long legs. Additionally, guides like Missouri Department of Conservation’s longlegged flies webpage provide insights into their physical characteristics, habitats, and general behavior.

Scientific Research

Long-legged flies, also known as Diptera: Dolichopodidae, are an extensive family of flies with over 7,000 species worldwide. Researchers from different universities and institutions conduct studies to understand their biology, ecology, and role in the ecosystem. For instance, you can explore academic articles and scientific studies on websites like ResearchGate, where you can find research papers and articles presented by experts in the field.

Extension Services

Various extension services provide valuable information on long-legged flies, their role as predatory flies, and benefits to gardens. One such example is the Washington State University Hortsense website, which highlights their benefits in controlling small, soft-bodied insects like aphids, thrips, and mites. Utilizing resources like these, as well as the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, can offer further insight into the broader impact and usefulness of these insects in controlling garden pests.

Footnotes

  1. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/longlegged-flies

  2. https://hortsense.cahnrs.wsu.edu/fact-sheet/predatory-flies-long-legged-flies/ 2

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Stilt Legged Fly: Grallipeza nebulosa

 

Flying Ant or Fly
September 23, 2009
This little guy hangs around my computer and other places on my desk “washing his hands and feet”, “scratching his head” and staring at me all day long. He is not timid of me at all. I can put my finger in front of him and he will walk up onto it. He seems to be content sitting still for long periods of time, then abruptly he will scatter. He is very quick when he wants to be. He didn’t seem to like me taking his picture either. I have also seen him riding inside my truck on the rearview mirror when I go on road trips. What is he and what does he want?
Weirded Out In Florida
Panama City Beach, FL.. Northwest Florida Panhandle

Long Legged Fly
Stilt Legged Fly

Dear Weirded Out,
WE believe this is a species of Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae, but sadly, we have been unable to find a species match on BugGuide.  Long Legged Flies are predatory species that prey on small insects, so they are beneficial and will not harm you.

Eric Eaton Responds
Daniel:
No trouble, but I’m answering from a friend’s computer….The fly is a “stilt-legged fly,” family Micropezidae.  Easy to get them confused with longlegged flies, family Dolichopodidae.
Eric

Update
BugGuide indicates this of Stilt Legged Flies:  “Odd little flies, known for their displaying (?) behavior of walking around and lifting their prominently marked front legs. Abdomen attached to thorax by ‘wasp-waist’. Likely ant or wasp mimics. The posture of the forelegs may imitate ant and/or wasp antennae and provide them with some protection from predators
.”  Also, we believe it looks like it might be Compsobata univitta.

Update:  May 18, 2014
Thanks to a new comment, we know that this is
Grallipeza nebulosa, a Stilt Legged Fly that is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 2 – Long Legged Fly

 

Long-legged fly (Condylostylus sipho?)
Location: Naperville, IL
June 26, 2011 7:38 am
Dear Daniel~
I found this long-legged fly on a hydrangea leaf today. Although I am pretty sure it is of the genus Condylostylus, I am less certain of its species. Condylostylus longicornis wings are unmarked, and its legs are blacker. Condylostylus sipho has the wing markings of this specimen, as well as its yellow upper legs, but the body shape is different. So sorry to trouble you again, but I thought this was a really beautiful fly, and I understand they are predators of even smaller insects. Their legs resemble mosquitoes! Thank you very much!
Signature: Dori Eldridge

Long Legged Fly

Hi Dori,
Even though we cannot confirm for certain your exact species, we are thrilled to be able to post these excellent photos of a Long Legged Fly.

Long Legged Fly

Letter 3 – Longlegged Fly

 

Garden Guest
Location:  Northern VA, USA
October 3, 2010 8:07 pm
All summer long, I see little tiny flies like this in the garden. Are they good guys?
Signature:  Patty in VA

Longlegged Fly

Dear Patty,
This is a Longlegged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae.  According to BugGuide:  “Mouthparts are for piercing (with a short proboscis). Adults and larvae are predaceous on small insects. Although immatures of some species mine stems of grasses and other plants or live under bark of trees. Not much is known about larval feeding habits although some species are known to be predaceous.
”  They are good guys or at the very least benign guys.

Letter 4 – Longlegged Fly from Australia

 

Green eyed bug with banded wing and body
Location: Downtown Sydney, Australia
October 22, 2010 8:57 pm
Apparently feeding on nectar along with bees etc. Approx 12 mm long.
I thought that such a distinctive looking insect would be easy to identify but I can’t come close.
The images are definitely of the same bug.
Signature: Mike Gordon

Longlegged Fly #1

Green eyed bug with banded body
Location: Downtown Sydney, Australia
October 22, 2010 9:01 pm
Similar to the preceding inquiry, but seems to be no banding on the wings, and a less well defined banding to the body. Also head and eye configuration looks different. On the same bush at the same time.
Also about 12 mm long.
Signature: Mike Gordon

Longlegged Fly #2

Hi Mike,
Both of your insects are Longlegged Flies in the family Dolichopodidae
, and the Brisbane Insect website has some images of Australian species and it indicates:  “Adult Dolichopodid Flies feed on smaller soft body insects such as aphids.”  Your specimen with the banded wings and body appears very similar to Austrosciapus connexus, which is well represented on the Brisbane Insect website.  Information on the family as it relates to North American species may be found on BugGuide which indicates:  “Mouthparts are for piercing (with a short proboscis). Adults and larvae are predaceous on small insects. Although immatures of some species mine stems of grasses and other plants or live under bark of trees. Not much is known about larval feeding habits although some species are known to be predaceous.”  If the information that the adults are predators of Aphids is correct, you may have found them on the flowers searching for prey as opposed to feeding on nectar.

Longlegged Fly #1

Thank you, Daniel.
I think that I should have been able to find thees ones myself.
Mike.

Letter 5 – Long Legged Fly from Australia

 

Subject:  Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Sydney Australia
Date: 04/01/2018
Time: 02:47 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This bug was on my herb pot plant never seen it before like to identify
How you want your letter signed:  Lady bug

Long Legged Fly

Dear Lady bug,
This is a Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae, and according to Ecologistics:  “Dolichopodidae generally are small flies with large, prominent eyes and a metallic cast to their appearance, though there is considerable variation among the species. Most have long legs, though some do not. In many species the males have unusually large genitalia which are taxonomically useful in identifying species. Most adults are predatory on other small animals, though some may scavenge or act as kleptoparasites of spiders or other predators.”  Thanks to images on Save Our Waterways Now, we believe your individual is
Austrosciapus connexus, and the site states that though there are other similar looking species:  “Austrosciapus connexus is the commonest of them, and found in backyards, gardens, as well as wilder country.”  The species is also pictured on the Brisbane Insect site.

Letter 6 – Long Legged Flies

 

Subject:  Bugs in backyard
Geographic location of the bug:  Torrance California
Date: 09/28/2017
Time: 07:31 PM EDT
I put fly traps up in backyard to help with flies around my dogs and I end up catching these bugs instead. I just want to make sure these are not mosquitos since my dogs and myself are outdoors in backyard often.  Thank you for any info you may give.
How you want your letter signed:  currious mom

Long Legged Flies

Dear currious mom,
These Long Legged Flies in the family Dolichopodidae are beneficial predators in the garden, though they are only able to eat the smallest of prey.

Letter 7 – Long Legged Flies trapped with Pegomya betae

 

Subject:  Iridescent green flying bugs
Geographic location of the bug:  Culver City CA
Date: 06/19/2021
Time: 05:36 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman :  Any idea what these are, they are an unfortunate side catch on a trap for pegomya betae on my beets and chard, they are the most amazing green color
Quick Update:  just did a reverse search and found this, Austrosciapus proximus
seems to be the same little fly.
are these common here, seems like along way from australia….
How you want your letter signed:  bug fan

Trapped Long Legged Flies

Dear bug fan,
While we doubt these are
Austrosciapus proximus, we agree that they are Long Legged Flies in the family Dolichopodidae.  They might be Condylostylus longicornis which are pictured on the Natural History of Orange County website.  It is unfortunate that they were trapped while attempting to control the invasive species Pegomya betae which is pictured on BugGuide.  You did not indicate if your traps were effective with the targeted pest species.

Long Legged Flies accidentally trapped

Thanks for your reply,
I was unaware of these little guys and sad that they were trapped, beautiful and apparently helpful, the traps did work quite well against the beet miners… really horrible destructive pests
thanks
Richard

Letter 8 – Long-Legged Fly

 

Hi,
It’s been so hot & humid it’s hard to stay out for long enough to spot any interesting bugs. And they’re all hiding in the shade, so I went for things I don’t usually try to photograph because they’re so tiny, or so common. (My little Canon Powershot A60 was at its closeup limit trying to capture these 1/4 in long flies.) I don’t know what any of these bugs are.
Love, Marian

Hi Again Marian,
We are posting your image of a Long Legged Fly in the genus Condylostylus. It is nearly impossible to distinguish the exact species. They are predatory, preying on smaller insects.

Letter 9 – Long Legged Fly

 

Bug Macros
I love your site and use it all the time to identify my Macro pics. I have a tremendous amount of macros that I have taken that are of similar quality of the ambush bug I sent the other night. I would be happy to send you some to use on your site. Here’s a long legged fly.
Thanks
Jeff Whitten
Florence, AL

Hi Jeff,
Thanks, It is a beautiful Long Legged Fly.

Letter 10 – Long Legged Fly

 

Tiny green fly
I took this picture of a very tiny fly yesterday, and was wondering if you knew what the species was. He measured less than a centimeter head to tail. (Feel free to post the photo to the site, if you’d like.) Thanks!
Kerry

Hi Kerry,
This is a Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae. We believe it is in the genus Condylostylus. Long Legged Flies prey on small insects.

Letter 11 – Long Legged Fly

 

Daughter’s First Pet
May 1, 2010
Please answer soon! This is my 5 year-old’s beloved first pet, “Fly-ey.” It goes with her everywhere! What kind is it and how should we care for it? What is its life expectancy? Can you think of any other critter that would be compatible as a friend? Thanks!
Erin Hobbs
Alpharetta, GA

Long Legged Fly

Daughter’s First Pet
May 3, 2010
I sent an email a couple days ago about my 5 year-old’s pet fly. Unfortunately, Fly-ey passed away Monday morning. Many tears were shed, but I hope the love of science continues.
Erin Hobbs
Alpharetta, GA

Hi Erin,
You have our condolences.  We are also sorry we did not write back sooner, but it is impossible for our tiny staff to handle all the mail we receive.  It appears that your daughter’s pet was a Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae, and there are many images on BugGuide.  Since they are predatory, you might have had a hard time feeding this pet.

Correction thanks to Eric Eaton
May 7, 2010
Hi, Daniel:
Saw the note about Mother’s Day, and am delighted you are taking the well-deserved time off! Congrats on the book, too.  Let me know when it comes out and I’ll blog about it….
Meanwhile, the “longlegged fly” posted May 1 is actually some type of snipe fly, family Rhagionidae.  Easy to get the two confused.
Eric

Letter 12 – Long Legged Fly

 

Small Green Flies
May 29, 2010
This morning (May 29 2010) I have small metallic green flies/wasps in my vegetable garden. Not a swarm but I saw at least five. I haven’t looked for them elsewhere. (I only noticed these because I was taking a photo of a leaf problem on the potatoes.) The photo is on a potato plant, but they don’t discriminate. They are about 1/2″ long. One landed on me, too. They don’t startle easily. I live in the mountains of western Virginia. We’ve had alot of rain recently.
Hoping They’re Beneficial
West of Lexington, VA

Long Legged Fly

Dear Hoping,
You wish has been granted.  This Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae is beneficial.  According to BugGuide:  “Adults and larvae are predaceous on small insects. Although immatures of some species mine stems of grasses and other plants or live under bark of trees. Not much is known about larval feeding habits although some species are known to be predaceous.

Letter 13 – Long Legged Fly

 

Subject:  Fruit Fly? Red AND Green?
Geographic location of the bug:n  New Paltz, New York
Date: 01/08/2019
Time: 01:09 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  HELLO BUGMAN! I LOVE that this site hasn’t changed since i was in middle school like 8 years ago, god bless, we STAN consistency!! <3
anyways, I found this fly, its wing markings suggest fruit fly to me, but the metallic color says otherwise? And my entomology professor didnt understand why its thorax would be a different color than its abdomen? What do you think!? <3 <3
Julian
How you want your letter signed:  IG:ultim8grandma

Long Legged Fly

Dear Julian,
Thanks so much for the great compliment, though we hope we have changed for the better over the years.  We have considerably more postings on our site now than we did then.  This is NOT a Fruit Fly.  It is a Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae, and it resembles this individual from the genus
Condylostylus that is pictured on BugGuide. It looks like it might be Condylostylus patibulatus which is pictured on BugGuide and which is known from New York as well as much of eastern North America.  According to BugGuide:  “Green body, black legs, black antennae, face with pale hairs, … In the Northeast, no other species has black legs and marked wings.”

Letter 14 – Long Legged Fly

 

Subject:  What is this fly?
Geographic location of the bug:  Central NJ (Linden area)
Date: 06/14/2019
Your letter to the bugman:  What in the world is this bug? They’ve been eating all the leaves of my zinnias!
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks – Ruthie

Long Legged Fly

Dear Ruthie,
You are mistaken about this Long Legged Fly from the family Dolichopodidae eating the leaves on your Zinnias.  If leaves are being chewed, we would suspect a host of creatures, including Caterpillars, Orthopterans like Grasshoppers or Katydids, Beetles or Slugs.  Flies do not have mouths that are capable of chewing.  Long Legged Flies are beneficial predators.  According to BugGuide:  “Mouthparts are for piercing (with a short proboscis). Adults and larvae prey on small insects.”

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much. I’m fairly sure it isn’t slugs but otherwise I’m stumped. Is there a gentle or natural way I can keep bugs away? I don’t want to kill them, just keep them from killing my plants.
Thanks,
Ruthie

Sorry Ruthie,
We have no recommendations for a panacea for deterring insects.

Letter 15 – Long Legged Fly and Flesh Fly

 

Long Legged Fly and Flesh Fly
WhatsThatBug, (my apologies if you’ve received this multiple times due to technical difficulties with my computer) I have a few photos to submit for your site, if you find them up-to-par and/or needed. – Photo A: I noticed that you have a few long-legged fly photos, but they are from “artistic” angles. Great photos! But I thought you’d also like this straight on shot, for easy identification. Photo B: A cane fly, of course, affectionately called a “mosquito hawk” here. These guys swarm from March to April (+/-). They’re no problem unless they get into the house where you better catch it quick or risk letting it die a painful death in an incandescent lamp (the upturning bowl kind). The halteres (balancers?) are visible behind the wings. This appears to be a female with egg-swollen abdomen, but I’m no expert. – Photo C: One of the photographs is of a fly I didn’t see on your fly pages – the flesh fly. At least, that is what I gather from the description here: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2111.html. She (?) amicably posed near my husband’s garden. The fly probably completed much of it’s lifecycle on a dead squirrel my kids found in the yard last week. It was about 1 cm in length. … Thanks for all of your work and helping me differentiate between scary helpful bugs and those I should genuinely avoid. I hate to kill another creature, and it’s worse when I do it out of self-defense (or defense of my kids playing in the backyard) to find that the “wasp” I’ve killed is really a garden/people-friendly bee fly or mydas fly and no real threat. Your work is really appreciated!
Kaylene
Bossier City, (Northern) Louisiana

Long Legged Fly Flesh Fly

Hi Kaylene,
We will be posting your Long Legged Fly and Flesh FLy photos. Thanks so much for filling the Flesh Fly void on our site.

Letter 16 – Long Legged Fly and Prey

 

LUNCH TIME FOR LONG LEGGED FLY (?)
Location:  TONASKET WA, NEAR THE CANADIAN BORDER
August 3, 2010 4:14 pm
I WAS TAKING PICTURES OF THIS BEAUTIFUL METALLIC GREEN FLY AND JUST AS I WAS FOCUSING, HE JUMPED AND GRABBED HIM(HER)SELF LUNCH! I’M THINKING IT’S SOME SORT OF LONG LEGGED FLY, BUT COULDN’T FIGURE OUT WHICH ONE. I FOUND ONE ON YOUR WEBSITE, WHICH LED ME IN THE DIRECTION TO GO, BUT THE WING PATTERN WAS DIFFERENT. I LOVE YOUR SITE AND AM IN AWE OF HOW MUCH YOU DO. ALBEIT, I HAVE DIAL-UP, BUT I CAN HARDLY KEEP UP WITH YOUR POSTING, LET ALONE PERUSE THE REST OF THE 1300 SOME PAGES. OH YEAH, THE FLY IS ABOUT 1/2” LONG AND WAS TAKEN ABOUT JULY 25TH, ON A SUNFLOWER LEAF.
CATHY

Long Legged Fly

Hi Cathy,
You are correct.  This is a Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae.  BugGuide has very good representation from nine different subfamilies.  Our amateur guess is that this lovely metallic green Long Legged Fly is in the subfamily Sciapodinae and the genus
Condylostylus, based on images posted to BugGuide.  We do not rue the day we abandoned dial-up for a short stint on DSL before moving to cable internet.

Long Legged Fly with Prey

Letter 17 – Long Legged Fly attacked by Fungus

 

whats this bug?
Hi,
My husband and I live in central Florida. We have a few hot pepper plants, a couple days ago we noticed this little guy sitting on a leaf. Can you tell us what it is? Thanks a bunch,
Kim

Hi Kim,
That fly will probably be sitting there for a long time. It has been consumed by fungus. We turned to Eric Eaton for a fly identification. Here is his response: “The fly is a longlegged fly, family Dolichopodidae, probably a Condylostylus. Eric”

Letter 18 – Long Legged Fly rescued from drowning

 

INSECT HUMANITARIAN OF THE WEEK:  ANNA
Small Fly – Can you help, Daniel?
Location: Hawthorne, California
May 28, 2011 9:55 pm
Hi Daniel,
I fished this little guy out of the bird bath the other day and managed to get a semi-decent shot of it while it was recovering. Do you know what type fly it is?
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Long Legged Fly from Hawthorne California

Hi Anna,
Daniel would really like to use this photo in a powerpoint presentation on Southern California Flies.  It is a LongLegged Fly in the genus
Condylostylus which is well represented on BugGuideHere is some information from  BugGuide which tends to indicate that this is a beneficial genus of Flies:  “Food Mouthparts are for piercing (with a short proboscis). Adults and larvae prey on small insects; larvae of some species mine stems of grasses and other plants or live under bark
Life Cycle Larvae develop in wet to dry soil and pupate in cocoons made up of soil particles cemented together. Adults mate after elaborate and unique behavior, involving the males displaying their legs to the female.

Hi,
Of course it will be fine to use any of my photos in the powerpoint presentation.  I’m honored that you asked.
Anna

Letter 19 – Long Legged Fly, we believe

 

Subject: Fly identification
Location: Regina, Sask., Canada
September 6, 2015 5:51 pm
need your hep to i.d this fly. Surprised to find it on my hydrangea. Suspect it may be a hover fly, but have never seen one here in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Signature: Geo McBride

Long Legged Fly
Long Legged Fly

Dear Geo,
We believe, but we are not certain, that this is a Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae, and it looks very close to a member of the genus
Condylostylus which is well represented on BugGuide.

Long Legged Fly
Long Legged Fly

Letter 20 – Long Legged Fly on Woody Plant

 

Subject:  What’s on my Woody Plant?
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
August 20, 2017 12:30 pm
Dear Bugman,
I try to keep abreast of what I am finding on my woody plants, and you have provided such excellent information in the past.  Please help me identify this metallic green insect.  It moved about very warily, and getting a photo was not easy.  Thanks for any assistance you are able to provide.
Signature:  Constant Gardener

Long Legged Fly

Dear Constant Gardener,
This is a Long Legged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae, and based on the Natural History of Orange County site, we believe it is
Condylostylus longicornis.  The species is also pictured on BugGuide where it states the range is:  “California; North Carolina to Paraguay; Polyensia. Possibly the most widespread species of the genus.”  Of the family, BugGuide indicates:  “Mouthparts are for piercing (with a short proboscis). Adults and larvae prey on small insects.”  This is a beneficial predator that will help keep your plants free of Aphids and other small insects that are injurious to garden plants.

Letter 21 – Longlegged Fly

 

WHAT’S THAT BUG ??
Great site you have here – didn’t really find these two bugs so thought I’d send pictures and ask. WHAT’S THAT BUG walking around on my Hibiscus???
Thanks,
Jimmy

Hi Jimmy,
This is a Longlegged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae, probably the genus Condylostylus. Adults prey on small insects and mites, so they are beneficial insects.

Letter 22 – Possibly Longlegged Fly from South Africa

 

Subject: South Africa
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
September 25, 2012 2:36 pm
Hello Daniel
I have tried to Google and find out what this one is. Bu with little success. A friend told me she thinks it’s a horsefly. I Google orange horsefly but did not find anything like this. Although it does look a lot like some of them. Is it just a different type of horsefly?
Sorry about the little pic.. once again. Can only get so close with my mobile:-)
Signature: rob

Possibly Longlegged Fly

Hi Rob,
We believe this might be a Longlegged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae.  It is not a Horse Fly.  According to Bugguide which covers only North American species, Longlegged Flies:  “vary in appearance and biology. Adults are medium to small slender flies normally with green, blue or copper metallic colored bodies and long legs. Their wings are clear or marked with darker areas towards the wing tips. Wing venation is characteristic.”

Letter 23 – Water Spider eats Long Legged Fly in Australia

 

Foodchain, Spider and Fly
Location: Queensland. Australia
October 29, 2011 9:58 pm
Hi guys,
Thought you might like this picture for your food chain pages. A tiny immature Dolomedes Instabilis has caught itself an Austrosciapus connexus, one of the Long Legged Flys. The fly is about 6mm long.
Signature: Aussietrev

Water Spider eats Long Legged Fly

Hi Trevor,
We greatly appreciate that you take the time to identify your creatures prior to submitting photos, which makes posting your submissions so easy.  According to the Find a Spider Guide for the Spiders of Southern Queensland website,
Dolomedes instabilis is commonly called a Water Spider and their habitat is  “On the surface of still-water ponds; this spider has the ability to run on water surfaces and to form underwater retreats in large air bubbles, although some pisaurids make their webs in green leaves or small twigs of shrubs and may never have occasion to ‘walk on water.'”  The Brisbane Insect website has some wonderful photos and indicates the common name is Fishing Spider like its North American relatives.  The Brisbane Insect website also indicates the common name of Austrosciapus connexus is the Green Long Legged Fly.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

7 thoughts on “Long Legged Fly: Essential Facts and Fascinating Insights”

  1. I was walking with a fly swatter next to my hydranga bush when all of the sudden a green fly landed on my arm! I immediately shook it off and ran away, scared it was poisonus it resembled a mistquitue with a horse fly and wings that pointed to the side.

    Reply
  2. This bug, yes, I finally know its name, is terrible. Apparently I am allergic to it and it causes me severe itching which turns into contact dermatitis. I have come across it several times and the only common was this bug. Just thought you would like to know.

    Reply

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