Nick Upton's picture

Balloon fly with silk-spinning front legs.

Observed: 6th May 2012 By: Nick UptonNick Upton’s reputation in InvertebratesNick Upton’s reputation in InvertebratesNick Upton’s reputation in InvertebratesNick Upton’s reputation in Invertebrates
Hilara
Description:

A very small male dance fly with special front legs. All dance flies offer courtship gifts of prey they've caught to females, but Hilara goes a step further, wrapping them in silk spun from silk glands on its weird front legs and carry them in courtship dances, and mate while a a female unwraps it to feed. Some cheat and carry empty "balloons"!

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

Syrphus's picture

Thanks for that story - I

Thanks for that story - I have wondered for a long time if Empidids mating while the female dined was the result of the male taking advantage of a distracted female or the quid pro quo for the dipteran equivalent of a large bunch of flowers!

M.

TRY

recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on www.hbrg.org.uk/TRY.html.

Nick Upton's picture

Gifts

I reckon it's a bit of both! The gift is usually real, and the bigger, the longer the mating lasts. Some think the balloon that Hilara and some Empis sp. make slows the feast down, but offering empty balloons is pure deception! Some other gift-givers (in return for mating...) include male scorpionflies who offer nutritious spitballs, and male Hanging flies offer insects caught in their prehensile back feet.

Nick Upton, naturalist and photographer.