Dagger Fly (Empis opaca)
Photographed on the Friday 17 June 2016.
The Dagger Fly seen here is Empis opaca from the Class Insecta, Order Diptera, Family Empididae and Genus Empis. These flies are common throughout Europe except the peninsulas of the Balkans and Iberian. As their name suggests this is a predatory species and catches its prey by impaling it with its extended mouth parts (proboscis) and can be used as biological control agents. However, they also feed on flowers where their long proboscis allows them to reach the nectar and so are also important pollinators. Sometimes also referred to as balloon flies or ‘’dance flies’’. These names arose because of the habit of preparing nuptial gifts for the female before mating, where the male wraps a prey item in silk to offer the female. The female will not respond unless bribed in this fashion and as soon as she has finished the meal she loses all interest and disengages from copulation.
Empididae are a family of the Diptera containing over 3 00 fly species worldwide occurring in most of the world’s Ecozones (habitats). Their larvae tend to occur in moist soil, rotten wood, dung and aquatic habitats and are predatory on many other larvae and small arthropods. They are quite an anciet species and are well represented in amber deposits.
All flies belong to the Order Diptera or True flies with the name being derived from Greek di (two) & ptera (wings). Diptera is a large order comprising an estimated one million species worldwide. Insects of this order use only two pairs of wings to fly with the hind wings reduced to what is known as Halteres. Halteres detect body movement and rotation in flight which the fly uses to correct its position in space while flying, effectively acting as a balance and guidance system. Flies have been known as carriers of disease and pathogens particularly in tropical regions but this only applies to some flies e.g. mosquitos etc., perhaps what is less known is that flies are important pollinators second
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