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Empis tesselata

The Dance Flies, also known as Balloon Flies, Empids, Empid Flies or Dagger Flies, look very much like Robber Flies, but they are a bit more slender usually. They are hunters as well, capable of capturing remarkably big prey. The bigger species can be easily distinguished from Robber Flies as they have a long, dagger-like snout. The males often dance in small groups, each holding a prey. Should a female pass by, the males offer her their prey. She chooses the best looking prey and the couple disappears in the bushes. While copulating the female Empid sucks dry the prey offered by the male.

Empis tesselata is one of the biggest Dance Flies in Western Europe, reaching a length of some 13 millimeters. There are a few other big species, but the majority of Dance Flies is much, much smaller. The wings of the male are bigger and broader than the female's. Both sexes are brownish black. The wing is yellowish at the base and brownish further on. The adult flies are seen from May to August. The larvae live in the soil, where they hunt for other insect(larvae). Even though Dance Flies love hunting other insects, they are often seen sucking nectar from flowers. Empis tesselata is not shy at all, so it's easy to study the animal in the wild, or take pictures.