Empididae, Hybotidae & Dolichopodidae Recording Scheme

  • Taxonomic Group (English): Empid, Hybotid & Dolichopodid flies
  • Taxonomic Group (Scientific): Empididae, Brachystomatidae, Hybotidae, Atelestidae, Dolichopodidae
  • Scheme Organisers: Steve Hewitt (Hybotidae & Atelestidae), Nigel Jones (Empididae & Brachystomatidae) and Martin Drake (Dolichopodidae)
  • Addresses:
    • Martin Drake, Orchid House, Burridge, Axminster, Devon, EX13 7DF
    • Steve Hewitt, 28 Castle Drive, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 7ED
    • Nigel Jones, 22 Oak Street, Shrewsbury, SY3 7RQ
  • Recording scheme newsletters

The Empidid and Dolichopodid Recording Scheme collates biological records for five related Diptera families comprising the Empidoidea:

  • Hybotidae                                                                  182 species
  • Atelestidae                                                                     2 species
  • Empididae                                                                  208 species
  • Brachystomatidae                                                          4 species
  • Dolichopodidae (now including Microphorinae)       304 species

When the recording scheme began under Roy Crossley, the first three of these families were once in the single family Empididae, which is why the scheme’s name appears to exclude two families.  The Microphorinae have been moved about between ‘Empididae’, being a family of its own, and now as a subfamily of the Dolichopodidae.

The principal British guides to these families are:

  • Collin, J.E. 1961. British flies. VI: Empididae. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • d’Assis Fonseca, E.C.M. 1978. Diptera Orthorrhapha Brachycera Dolichopodidae. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 9 (5). Royal Entomological Society, London.

Excellent more recent coverage of the ‘empids’ is given by Chvála’s four monographs:

  • Chvála, M. 1975. The Tachydromiinae (Dipt. Empididae) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 3, 1-336.
  • Chvála, M. 1983. The Empidoidea (Diptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. II. General Part. The families Hybotidae, Atelestidae and Microphoridae. Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 12, 1-279.
  • Chvála, M. 1994. The Empidoidea (Diptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. III Genus Empis. Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 29, 1-192.
  • Chvála, M. 2005. The Empidoidea (Diptera) of Fennoscandia and Denmark. IV Genus Hilara. Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 40, 1-233.

Sending in records

We are always pleased to receive records.  We collate them and use them for research and conservation.  At the moment we use MapMate to store records.  We prefer records submitted as MapMate sync files or spreadsheets. We would struggle with records in other formats but may have to try harder! But we won’t reject other formats unless we don’t know how to deal with them. Currently none of the scheme organisers uses Recorder.

MapMate.  To make sure you don’t send your whole database to us in a sync file, set the filter in Replication \ Special \ Set Filters to:

  • Records - My Records (or All Records if you have received relevant data from other MapMate users)
  • Sites – All
  • Taxa – Insecta: Diptera: Empid and Doli Recording Scheme

and generate a sync file for Centre Unique Key “2ha” (Martin Drake) or “dd4” (Stephen Hewitt).

Data required

As well as the usual basic minimum (site name, VC, gridref, date, recorder, determiner) we would value:

  • Sex. MapMate, when importing from a spreadsheet, looses information on the second sex entered (so “3m, 6f” gets reduced to “3m”). This can be overcome by using MapMate’s symbol ‘g’ (for group) if there are males and females.  Knowing the sex can be important for estimating the reliability of identification in some genera, since females can sometimes be unidentifiable (whatever the key purports to tell you).  An alternative is to place the sex in the ‘comments’ field.
  • Habitat.  As ecologists, we find this rather more useful than many other bits of information that are entered under ‘comment’.  This field cannot be sorted or searched in MapMate so it doesn’t matter if there is a jumble of information there – if we are looking for habitat information for a species, we can sift it out ‘by eye’.  Habitat information can be as basic as ‘woodland’, but the more you say, the more useful the record.

Checking the records

The scheme organisers (Stephen Hewitt, Nigel Jones, Martin Drake) check incoming records to ensure that accuracy is maintained, and we may sometimes contact you to ask for further details about a particular record. It is in everyone's interest to maintain the quality of our data, and we will try to do this politely and diplomatically! For some species specimens or photos may be requested, or confirmation from another recorder may be advisable. Photos are often less helpful than one might hope.

Record sharing

We aim to upload the database to the NBN but have not done so yet as there are many errors that need correcting, and a large number of duplicates.  We set no deadline for this but clearly we need to do it if we expect recorders to continue sending us records.


Long-term aims are:

  • A new handbook to dolichopodids. Martin Drake is writing and illustrating this.  At current progress, it may be another 3 years before it appears. By the end of 2019, I hope to be satisfied with some test keys which you can try out.
  • Atlas of dolichopodids. This will have to wait until I have finished the handbook.



  • Assis Fonseca, E.C.M. 1978. Diptera Orthorrhapha Brachycera Dolichopodidae. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 9 (5). Royal Entomological Society, London.

This handbook remains the most easily available guide. It is out-of-print but downloadable from the RES https://www.royensoc.co.uk/out-print-handbooks .  It is essentially a cut-down version of Parent’s monograph (see next) so many of the keys are less straight-forward than they need be for our smaller fauna. Since its publication (1978) we have added about 40 more species, so there’s room for misidentification.  The keys to females do not have enough caveats that they may not work!

  • Parent, O. 1938. Diptères Dolichopodidae. Faune de France 35. Lechevalier, Paris.

Out-of-print, rare and expensive second-hand. It can be downloaded from the Faune de France website https://faunedefrance.org/bibliotheque-virtuelle-numerique/   Scroll down to Insectes Diptères. It is a remarkable book and worth getting hold of since it covers most British species.  Obviously it’s in French but Google Translate can sort that out for you.

  • Die Fliegen der Palaearktischen Region (Ed. E. Lindner) covers many genera of dolichopodids and was published in 12 parts between 1930 and 1979. It is out-of-print, very expensive second-hand, written in German but with usually excellent illustrations.  For difficult genera (especially Medetera and Thrypticus) it is almost essential as keys relying on non-genitalia characters alone (e.g. d’Assis Fonseca) don’t work reliably.  It is incomplete; for example, the Diaphorinae and Sympycninae are not covered.

The next three publications by Grichanov and colleagues do not add much for the British dipterist. The first does have attractive habitus photographs of each genus which is a useful check when starting off.   They may be useful if you have something that does not key out using d’Assis Fonseca.

  • Grichanov, I.Ya., Negrobov, O.P. & Selivanova, O.V. 2011. Keys to Palaearctic subfamilies and genera of the family Dolichopodidae (Diptera). Cesa News 62, 13-46.
  • Grichanov, I.Ya. 2006. A checklist and keys to North European genera and species of Dolichopodidae (Diptera). VIZR RAAS, 2006, 1-120. Plant Protection News Supplement. St Petersburg.
  • Grichanov, I.Ya. 2007. A checklist and keys to Dolichopodidae (Diptera) of the Caucasus and East Mediterranean. VIZR RAAS, 2007, 1-160. Plant Protection News Supplement. St PetersburgEm

Empis - positions of bristles on the dorsal surface of the mesothorax

Two labelled drawings showing the various bristle positions on the mesothorax of Xanthempis are available to download below. The drawings will help to clarify the chaetotaxy of the mesothorax in other Empid genera as well:

Empis (Xanthempis) trigramma

Empis (Xanthempis) punctata