|Male on the left - female on the right.|
I've never seen this fly and after searching through my insect books and on line, I asked the helpful volunteers at the University of Illinois. After they identified it for me, I found the following (cause I know you want to hear):
The Golden Backed Snipe Fly ranges throughout the eastern portion of North America and are usually only observed in early to mid-spring on low vegetation in deciduous woodlands. They lay eggs who hatch into tiny larvae and probably go through several changes. Nothing is known of their life cycle. It is thought the adults are predatory on other insects but may not eat at all. They don't bite humans.
It's a true fly, relative large for a fly (10-12 mm), has long legs, rounded heads and tapering abdomens. It has smoky colored wings with dark veins on translucent membrane. It gets it's name from the brilliant gold hair positioned on the upper thorax. It has light stripes along the edge of each abdominal segment interrupted in the middle. Females are more robust than males. The males have much larger eyes.
And this is the extend of all knowledge about this one fly (out of approximately 20,000 varieties.) As humans, we think by now we've pretty much researched every possible thing in this world. We aren't even close. Not only that, we are constantly discovering new ones. I use "we" as in human beings not as in me and my friends.
If you, like me, get down and dirty in the garden you will see so many different insects there's no way you will recognize or identify them all. Some are so tiny we won't even notice them. But, this Golden-backed Snipe Fly is surely one that captures attention.
These are close-ups from the web site: