(Bittacus spp.)


Bittacus is a genus of hangingfly. It occurs in Europe, Africa, eastern Asia, and North and South America. It is uncommon in Minnesota. It is by far the most diverse genus of hangingflies. There are more than 120 species worldwide, 8 species in North America north of Mexico, and at least 3 species in Minnesota. They are found in woodlands and bottomlands, near streams, in humid, well-shaded areas with dense vegetation.

hangingfly (Bittacus sp.)

  Photo by Alfredo Colon

Adults feed on smaller insects, especially flies. They catch prey with their middle and hind legs, inject it with saliva, suck out the soft body parts, and discard the empty exoskeleton. Larvae resemble caterpillars and feed on organic matter, including dead insects. The common name of the family Bittacidae is hanging flies, and refers to their spending most of their time dangling from the underside of twigs and leaves by their front legs. They rest with their wings folded over the abdomen.


Bittacus hangingflies resemble large crane flies. Adults are ¾ to 1 (20 to 26 mm) long. The body is long, soft, cylindrical, and yellowish-brown. The genitalia are not swollen. The head extends downwards. The genus name Bittacus is from a Greek word meaning “parrot”, and apparently refers to the long “beak”. There are four wings and no halteres. The forewings are narrow at the base. The legs are very long and slender. The front legs are modified for grasping. The middle and hind legs are modified for capturing prey. The last part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has five segments. The fifth segment can be folded back on the fourth and has a single claw at the tip.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 24, 29, 30, 82.





Mecoptera (scorpionflies and hangingflies)



Bittacidae (hanging flies)




Subordinate Taxa

hairy-horned hangingfly (Bittacus pilicornis)

brand-winged hangingfly (Bittacus stigmaterus)

thin hangingfly (Bittacus strigosus)
















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Alfredo Colon
  hangingfly (Bittacus sp.)    
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos



  hangingfly (Bittacus)
Bill Keim
  hangingfly (Bittacus)  



Visitor Videos
Other Videos
  Bittacus Hanging Fly, with Prey
margy stewart

Oct 11, 2019

It looked like a salmon-colored crane fly, caught by a spider--but bugguide.net corrected my first imprression. It's a Hanging Fly (genus Bittacus), a predator of smaller flies. Here it is with a Syrphid fly in its tarsi. Bottomland prairie restoration, 9-22-19. Geary Co., Kansas.




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Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

hangingfly (Bittacus sp.)

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Created: 2/22/2020

Last Updated:

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