longlegged fly

(Condylostylus patibulatus)

Conservation Status
longlegged fly (Condylostylus patibulatus)
Photo by Greg Watson
  IUCN Red List

not listed

 
  NatureServe

not listed

 
  Minnesota

not listed

 
           
           
           
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Condylostylus patibulatus is a common, small, metallic green fly. It occurs in the United States and southern Canada east of the Great Plains. It occurs in the southeastern quarter of Minnesota, where it reaches the northwestern extent of its range. Adults are found in woodlands and meadows near streams and swamps. Adults prey on smaller insects. Larvae live in soil or under bark and are seldom seen. They prey on small invertebrates.

Adults are slender and 316 to ¼ (5 to 6 mm) in length. The head, eyes, thorax, and abdomen are shiny and metallic dark green, often with steel blue areas, and always with a little to a lot of copper coloration. The head, the rear of the thorax, the scutellum, and the front and rear segments of the abdomen are often steel blue.

The head is broader than the thorax. The top of the head (vertex) is deeply indented. There are two large compound eyes on the sides of the head and three small simple eyes (ocelli) in a triangle on top of the head. The compound eyes are bare, with no hairs. They do not meet at the top of the head on either sex. The antennae are black and short, shorter than the head. They have just three segments. The second segment has long bristles. The third segment is small. There is a stiff, forward-pointing bristle (arista) on the upper side on the third segment. The arista is slender and moderately long, shorter than the length of the head and thorax combined. It is bare, not feather-like (plumose). The face has long white hairs. The upper part of the face (frons) has both black and pale bristles. The combination of protruding mouthparts (proboscis) is short, black, and is modified for piercing.

The thorax is large and has three segments. Each segment has four principal exoskeletal plates, one above, one below, and one on each side. The upper (dorsal) plates, from front to rear, are the prescutum, scutum, and scutellum. The prescutum and the scutum are not differentiated – there is no groove between them. The sides of the thorax are black with a greenish reflection, and are slightly dusted with white, making them appear grayish. There are two longitudinal rows of black bristles on each side near the middle. The outer (dorsocentral) row has 4 or 5 strong bristles. There are two pairs of bristles on the scutellum. Both pairs are long. The small, knob-like, balancing structures on each side of the thorax (halteres) are blackish-brown or pale dingy yellow on the male. On the female, the stalk (peduncle) is brownish-black but the knob at the end is yellow. However, the halteres are covered by the wings and cannot be seen on most photographs.

The abdomen is mostly shiny green. Usually the rear two segments, and often the front segment, are purplish-blue. The front margin of each segment has a narrow black band. The upper surface has black hairs. On the female the abdomen is relatively broad and abruptly tapered at the end, appearing pointed at the tip. On the male the abdomen is slightly tapered and is rounded at the tip. The genitalia on the male are large, conspicuous, and folded under the abdomen.

The wings have two smoky-brown bands on the outer half, connected along the leading edge (costal margin), forming a U shape. It may be dark and well-defined, or somewhat faded and broken. Sometimes it is reduced to cloudy areas along the veins. Sometimes it is too faint to be detected on photographs. The lobe at the base of each wing (calypter) that covers the haltere is well developed. The upper surface has black hairs, though this cannot be seen without magnification. The radial sector (Rs) vein has two branches and is slightly swollen at the fork. The M2 vein is present. The M1 is sharply recurved beyond the M2. The radial-media crossvein (r-m), a short vein between the radius and media veins, is in the basal quarter of the wing.

The legs are long and on both sexes are entirely black. The fourth segment (tibia) on all legs has black bristles. On the hind legs these are small, on the upper side only, and are hard to see. The last part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has five segments. On the front leg the first segment is very long, longer than all of the remaining segments taken together.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

316 to ¼ (5 to 6 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Woodlands and meadows near streams and swamps

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

 

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Adults perch on broad leaves. Males wave their front legs in courtship display.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The larva pupates in the soil in a cocoon fashioned from soil.

 
     
 

Larva Food

 
 

 

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 29, 30, 82.

 
  8/7/2022      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Diptera (flies)  
 

Suborder

Brachycera (circular-seamed flies, muscoid flies, short-horned flies)  
 

Infraorder

Asilomorpha (Orthorrhapha)  
 

Superfamily

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

Family

Dolichopodidae (long-legged flies)  
 

Subfamily

Sciapodinae  
 

Tribe

Sciapodini  
  Genus Condylostylus  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Dolichopus patibulatus

Psilopodinus carolinensis

Psilopus amatus

Psilopus patibulatus

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

No species in the genus Condylostylus has been given a common name, nor has the genus itself. The common name for the family Dolichopodidae is long-legged flies, and it is used here for convenience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Arista

A large bristle on the upper side of the third segment of the antenna of a fly.

 

Frons

The upper part of an insect’s face, roughly corresponding to the forehead.

 

Halteres

In flies: a pair of knob-like structures on the thorax representing hind wings that are used for balance.

 

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

 

Scutellum

The exoskeletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects. In Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, the dorsal, often triangular plate behind the pronotum and between the bases of the front wings. In Diptera, the exoskeletal plate between the abdomen and the thorax.

 

Tarsus

On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.

 

Tibia

The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.

 

Vertex

The upper surface of an insect’s head.

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Greg Watson

 
    longlegged fly (Condylostylus patibulatus)   longlegged fly (Condylostylus patibulatus)  
           
 
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  Colorful Condylostylus patibulatus Long-legged fly at the flea market
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Jun 5, 2022

 

 

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  Greg Watson
6/28/2022

Location: Great River Bluffs State Park

longlegged fly (Condylostylus patibulatus)  
           
 
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Created: 8/7/2022

Last Updated:

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