dance fly

(Rhamphomyia spp.)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia sp.)
Photo by Alfredo Colon

Rhamphomyia is a large genus of dance flies. It occurs in Europe and North America, with only scattered records elsewhere. There are at least 620 species worldwide. In North America there are about 150 described species and at least another 400 species yet to be described. There are at least 8 species in Minnesota, probably many more.

Rhamphomyia are found in late spring and early summer in moist areas along the edges of fresh water. Larvae are found in moist soil. Adults form mating swarms, with different species swarming at different times of day. The male will capture an insect and offer it as a gift to a potential mate.


Adults are small, no more than (10 mm) in length. The thorax is large and bulbous, making the insect appear hump backed. The abdomen is long and tapered. The head is small and more or less spherical. The eyes are large. The mouthparts are extended into a long, rigid proboscis. This is the attribute that gives the family Empididae its scientific name. It is from the Greek and translates to “beak fly”. The antennae have a long, slender style at the tip. The neck is visible when viewed from the side. The legs are long. The wings on most species are reddish-brown. On the female they are broad, clear at the base, and brown on the outer half. On the male they are narrower and entirely clear. On some species the wings are entirely dark.


Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30, 82.



Diptera (flies)  




Asilomorpha (Orthorrhapha)  


Empidoidea (dance flies, long-legged flies, and allies)  


Empididae (dance flies)  


  Tribe Empidini  

Subordinate Taxa


dance fly (Rhamphomyia americana)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia basalis)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia brevis)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia debilis)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia fumosa)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia gilvipes)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia gracilis)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia irregularis)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia laevigata)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia limbata)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia luteiventris)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia marginata)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia nuda)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia pulla)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia vara)

dance fly (Rhamphomyia vittata)

long-tailed dance fly (Rhamphomyia longicauda)






Common Names


Few of the more than 620 described species in the genus Rhamphomyia have a common name. The genus itself does not have a common name. The common name for the family Empididae is dance flies, and it is applied here for convenience.














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Alfredo Colon

    dance fly (Rhamphomyia sp.)      








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Other Videos

Published on Jan 1, 2011

This video shows interesting mating behavior by the dance fly genus Rhamphomyia. Females are swarming to attract males. They fly in a flattened oval pattern in line with the sun's rays. This angle accentuates the reflective abdomen of the females. The males fly through the female swarms carrying a nuptial gift to feed to the female. Male/Female pairs form a slow-moving peripheral swarm and appear to copulate in flight.




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  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

dance fly (Rhamphomyia sp.)  






Created: 2/17/2019

Last Updated:

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