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Taeniaptera trivittata (Stilt-legged Fly)

Order: Diptera
Family: Micropezidae
Genus: Taeniaptera

Flies of the Family Micropezidae are commonly known as the stilt-legged flies because their middle and hind legs are unusually long.  Not much is known about this curious family.  Thirty-three species occur in North America, but many more are found in the tropics (1).  Micropezidae larvae feed on dung, decaying vegetation and other organic matter. The adults are typically found in moist environments such as marshes; their feeding habits are largely unknown (2, 3). The specimen featured here is most probably Taeniaptera trivittata (another possibility is Rainieria antennaepes; both species look remarkably alike and occupy the same range). It was found next to a decaying tomato plant growing behind the greenhouses by the French Family Science Center.  This particular species is an ant mimic.  It waves its white-tipped forelegs like ant antennae and has a relatively narrow “wasp waist,” like an ant.  The color pattern of the wings is such that when lying flat on their backs, they reinforce the image of the insect’s wasp waist.


Taeniaptera trivittata - dorsal view

Taeniaptera trivittata – Stilt-legged Fly

Taeniaptera trivittata - close up of wing scales

Taeniaptera trivittata – Close up of the wings

Taeniaptera trivittata - close up of head

Taeniaptera trivittata – Close up of head


Taeniaptera trivittata on
Stilt-legged flies on Wikipedia
Key to the Family Micropezidae



(1) Triplehorn, C.A. and N.F. Johnson, Borror and Delong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects, 7th ed., (2005), Thomson Brooks/Cole.
(2) Borror, D.J. and R.E. White, A Field Guide to the Insects of America North of Mexico, (1987), Houghton-Mifflin.
(3) Arnett, R.H., Jr., American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico, (2000), CRC Press.