Ptilosphen variolatus

Stilt-legged Fly

Ptilosphen variolatus, Micropezid Fly from Nicaragua

Family: Micropezidae

Subfamily: Taeniapterinae

Length: fly in photo 12 mm to wing apex


Members of the subfamily Taeniapterinae are found all over the Neotropics and as far north as Quebec. The larvae typically feed on decaying plant and animal matter.

Ptilosphen is a Neotropical genus found from Mexico to Brazil, and is made up of about 15 described species and a number of undescribed ones. Typically these flies live in a forest habitat, and males and females within a species may appear markedly different. Marshall, writing in the Manual of Central American Diptera (Brown et al., 2010), reports that males and females of a single species have sometimes been described as two species because of the sexual dimorphism.

Ptilosphen variolatus is an interesting species in that the females actively court the males, leading to nuptial feeding by the male and mating.

Ptilosphen variolatus has published records from Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. The fly shown here was photographed in Matagalpa province, Nicaragua.

Micropezidae from Nicaragua, Taeniapterinae

American Insects site