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 Major Groups | Insecta (insects) | Diptera (true flies) | Empididae


Major Group: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Empididae

Descriptive Features:

  • head capsule incomplete (hemicephalic), often retracted into thorax, with some sclerotization visible and extruded from thorax
  • palps and antenna distinguishable
  • mandibles usually with hooked apical tooth and lacking inner teeth
  • metathoracic rods narrow throughout
  • abdomen 8-segmented
  • paired parapods on abdominal segments 1 - 7 or 1 - 8
  • posterior spiracles quite widely separated, not concealed on anal/pre-anal segment
  • anal segment frequently lobed  
  • Total length: up to 5mm


    Taxonomic Checklist: Subfamilies Genera
    Asymphyloptera quadriseta Smith
    Clinocera 7 species
    *Bandella 9 species
    *Cunomyia unica Bickel
    *Empis 17 species
    *Eugowra 3 species
    *Hilara 6 species
    *Hilarempis 6 species
    *Munburra bulbicornis Bickel
    *Rhamphella inconspicua Malloch
    *Rhamphomyia 3 species
    *Thinempis 4 species
    *Anaclastoctedon 2 species
    *Ptilophyllodromia biroi Bezzi
    *Sororsenexa macalpinei Plant
    *Microphor hiemalis White
    *Microphorella iota Colless
    *unsure if aquatic

    Distribution: Australia wide

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 5

    Functional Feeding Group: predators


    Edward River at 4 Posts YC Deniliquin, NSW

    Ecology: Instream habitat: Larvae are usually found in mud and detritus or in algal mats and aquatic mosses in standing and flowing waters.
    Feeding ecology: Both larvae and adults are predacious on other insects, mainly Diptera.
    Life history: Adult emergence occurs from August to October for most Australian species. Some genera, especially of the subfamily Empidinae, have an elaborate courtship display in which prey is used as an essential stimulus initiating copulation, giving rise to the common name of ‘dance-flies’. Swarms are usually connected to mating behaviour.


    Information Sources: Ginn 2012, Sinclair 2003 & 2000b, Hawking & Smith 1997, Colless & McAlpine 1991, Merritt & Cummins 1996, Evenhuis 2007
    Key to Subfamilies: none
    Key to Genera: none
    Key to Species: none