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Empididae (dance flies; order Diptera, suborder Brachycera) Large family of medium to small flies, which have body bristles and a horny proboscis used to pierce prey and suck it dry, the prey usually consisting of other Diptera. The males often exhibit secondary sexual characters on their legs, as adaptations for holding prey and the female during mating. Mating behaviour also involves ‘dancing’ up and down by the males, hence the common name. Males often catch items of prey and offer them to females as part of the courtship procedure. Larvae are amphipneustic, with pseudopods to aid locomotion. The known larvae are carnivorous on other insects in soil and leaf-litter. There are more than 3000 described species, with a cosmopolitan distribution.

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