More From the Garden – Long-legged Flies

Long-legged Fly
Long-legged Fly

At nearly 1300 described species in North America alone, the Long-legged Flies (Dolichopodidae) are ubiquitous, under-studies and totally unappreciated.  Little is known about most of this group’s life histories and habits, especially as larvae.  These guys are under appreciated because few know or applaud their function as key predators in backyard and agricultural habitats.  Both larval and adult forms of dolichipodids eat a wide variety of pest insects, including other flies, mites, aphids, scale insects and beetles.

Dolichos (long) Podis (foot)
Dolichos (long)
Podis (foot)

I have discerned three Long-legged species in the backyard and have been able to photograph the two pictured in this post.  The most well known and common have the multi-colored, metallic luster of the insect in the first photograph, while the other is more earth-toned and with a pair of dark spots on its wings.

Long-legged Fly

Many species in this family are known for elaborate mating dances, equipped with colored flags on their front legs that they use to seduce and entice potential mates.  Sexual selection is even at work on the insects.  No one escapes…