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True Flies

Please choose an animal from the list below:


Family Keroplatidae

Glowworms

New Zealand Fungus Gnat (NZ Glowworm)


Order Diptera

The order Diptera is composed of a well known bunch of insects commonly known as true flies. This large order contains house flies, mosquitoes, crane flies, midges, bot flies, hover flies, and tsetse flies, just to name a few. In fact, there are approximately 120 000 species of flies known more than all the species of vertebrates with many more species yet to be discovered. Diptera is a diverse order, but all the species share some features in common.

The most striking feature in the fly is, well, the wings. Unlike other flying insects such as the hymenopterans (bees, wasps, flying ants), lepidopterans (butterflies) and coleopterans (beetles), dipterans have only one pair of wings (hence the name Diptera: di = "two", ptera = "wing"). These forewings are located on the mesothorax, and since flies must rely only on this pair of wings for flight the mesothorax is slightly enlarged to contain the flight muscles. Special organs known as halteres are located behind the forewings. They are small and club-shaped, and in fact are a reduced form of the second pair of wings. When flying, the halteres vibrate and act as balancing organs so that the fly can fly without spinning out of control. Flies are, as their common name suggests, wonderful fliers, many species being able to fly forwards and backwards at remarkable speeds and even hover in midair. There are some species that are completely flightless, however, and other species in which one gender lacks wings.

Many adult flies feed on nectar or other liquids produced by plants, but there are some species that are predacious, hunting their own prey, or parasitic, feeding off the blood of other animals. As a result, the mouthparts differ from species to species. Those that drink nectar, such as house flies, have "sponging" mouthparts, often composed of fleshy pads with drainage canals known as pseudotracheae. Predacious flies, such as robber flies, have mouthparts modified for stabbing or piercing other insects, and parasitic flies, such as mosquitoes, have elongated mouthparts adequate for piercing skin and drawing blood.

Larvae are often known as maggots, and are equated with rot and decay because many species of fly lay their eggs in dead animals, of which the maggots feed when they hatch. Not all species do this however. Some lay their eggs in the water, as is the case with mosquitoes, and others lay their eggs in cool, moist places. Maggots look nothing like the adults. They are often featureless blobs with nothing more than mouth hooks for feeding. They then pupate, the pupa being covered with a hard exterior, and finally the adult emerges. This drastic change from larvae to adult is known in scientific circles as being "holometabolous".

Flies are often regarded as pests, spreading filth and disease wherever they go. And for many species, this is true. The tsetse fly of Africa is reviled for carrying a tiny protozoan known as the trypanosome that can cause sleeping sickness in humans. Likewise, mosquitoes have been known to transmit all kinds of viruses and protists, from the West Nile virus to malaria to AIDS (although AIDS infection by mosquitoes is apparently rare). For this reason, the Guinness Book of World Records lists the mosquito as the most deadly animal. However, flies can be beneficial. Predacious flies help control other types of insects, while those flies that feed on nectar are important pollinators. Flies are also important experimental animals one type of fruit fly has given us valuable information on chromosomes.

There are regarded by many scientists to be two main suborders of flies: Nematocera and Brachycera. Nematocera is composed of smaller, delicate flies that have segmented antennae, long legs, and thin wings. They can be found in damp habitats and come out at dusk. Some examples include midges, crane flies, gnats and mosquitoes. Brachycera is the larger suborder and includes the stockier flies, including horse flies, house flies, bot flies, bat flies and fruit flies.

There are approximately 120 000 species of flies in at least 170 families, although some sources cite up to 188 families:

For a different way to categorize this order, click here.
Here's yet another method.
For a site that contains families extinct and living, click here.

Nematocera

Anisopodidae (window midges)
Axymyiidae (axymyiid flies)
Bibionidae (fever flies, love bugs)
Blephariceridae (mountain midges)
Bolitophilidae (fungus gnats)
Canthyloscelididae (Canthyloscelis balaena, etc)
Cecidomyiidae (gall midges)
Ceratopogonidae (biting midges)
Chaoboridae (phantom midges)
Chironomidae (non-biting midges)
Corethrellidae (South African phantom midges)
Cramptonomyiidae (various gnats?)
Culicidae (mosquitoes)
Cylindrotomidae (various crane flies - Cylindrotoma distinctissima, etc)
Deuterophlebiidae (mountain midges)
Diadocidiidae (fungus gnats)
Ditomyiidae (ditomyiid fungus gnats)
Dixidae (dixa midges)
Grauvogeliidae (grauvgeliids)
Hennigmatidae (hennigmatid flies)
Keroplatidae (glowworms)
Limoniidae (crane flies)
Lygistorrhinidae (fungus gnats)
Mycetophilidae (fungus gnats)
Nadipteridae (nadipterids)
Nymphomyiidae (nymphomyiid flies)
Olbiogastridae (olbiogastrids)
Oligophrynidae (midges?)
Oreodomyiidae (oreodomyiids)
Pachyneuridae (dark-winged fungus gnats?)
Perissommatidae (perissommatid flies)
Pleciidae (pleciids)
Psychodidae (moth flies, sand flies)
Ptychopteridae (phantom crane flies)
Scatopsidae (scavenger flies)
Sciaridae (black fungus gnats)
Simuliidae (black flies)
Synneuridae (synneurid gnats)
Tanyderidae (primitive crane flies)
Thaumaleidae (solitary midges)
Tipulidae (crane flies)
Trichoceridae (winter crane flies)

Brachycera

Acartophthalmidae (acartophthalmid flies)
Acridomyiidae (acridomyiids)
Acroceridae (small-headed flies)
Aenigmatiidae (aenigmatiids)
Agromyzidae (leaf miners)
Anthomyiidae (root-eating flies)
Anthomyzidae (anthomyzid flies)
Apioceridae (flower-loving flies)
Apsilocephalidae (Clesthentia, etc)
Asilidae (assassin flies, robber flies)
Asteiidae (asteiid flies)
Atelestidae (atelestids)
Athericidae (South African phantom midges?)
Aulacigastridae (aulacigastrid flies)
Australimyzidae (Australimyza)
Bombyliidae (bee flies)
Borboropsidae (borboropsids)
Braulidae (bee lice)
Calliphoridae (blow flies, bluebottles, greenbottles)
Camillidae (camillid flies)
Campichoetidae (Campichoeta punctum, etc)
Canacidae or Canaceidae (beach flies)
Carnidae (carnid flies)
Celyphidae (globe flies)
Centrioncidae (centrioncids)
Chamaemyiidae (aphid flies)
Chiropteromyzidae (chiropteromyzids)
Chloropidae (eye flies)
Chyromyidae (chyromyid flies)
Clusiidae (clusiid flies)
Cnemosphathidae (cnemosphathids)
Coelopidae (kelp flies)
Conopidae (thick-headed flies)
Cryptochetidae (cryptochetid flies)
Curtonotidae (curtonotid flies)
Cuterebridae (rodent bot flies)
Cypselosomatidae (Cypselosomatites succini, etc)
Diastatidae (diastatid flies)
Diopsidae (stalk-eyed flies)
Dolichopodidae (long-legged flies)
Drosophilidae (small fruit flies)
Dryomyzidae (dryomyzid flies)
Eginiidae (eginiid flies)
Empididae (dance flies)
Ephydridae (brine flies)
Eurychoromyiidae (broad-headed flies)
Fanniidae (latrine flies)
Fergusoninidae (eucalyptus flies)
Gasterophilidae (horse bot flies)
Glossinidae (tsetse flies)
Glutopidae (glutopids)
Helcomyzidae (sub-Antarctic kelp flies)
Heleomyzidae (heleomyzid flies)
Helosciomyzidae (ant-killing flies)
Hilarimorphidae (hilarimorphid flies)
Hippoboscidae (forest flies)
Huttoninidae (huttoninids)
Hybotidae (Platypalpus, etc)
Ironomyiidae (ironomyiid flies)
Lauxaniidae (lauxaniid flies)
Lonchaeidae (lonchaeid flies )
Lonchopteridae (pointed-wing flies)
Marginidae (Afrotropical flies)
Megamerinidae (megamerinids)
Micropezidae (stilt flies)
Microphoridae (microphorids)
Milichiidae (filth flies)
Mormotomyiidae (cave-dwelling wingless flies)
Muscidae (house flies, stable flies)
Mydidae (mydas flies)
Mystacinobiidae (New Zealand bat flies)
Mythicomyiidae (microbombyliids)
Nemestrinidae (tangle-veined flies)
Neottiophilidae (nest flies)
Neriidae (cactus flies)
Neurochaetidae (upside-down flies)
Nothybidae (nothybids)
Notomyzidae (notomyzids)
Nycteribiidae (bat flies)
Odiniidae (odiniid flies)
Oestridae (bot flies)
Opetiidae (flat-footed flies)
Opomyzidae (opomyzid flies)
Otitidae (picturewinged flies)
Pallopteridae (pallopterid flies)
Pantophthalmidae (Pantophthalmus roseni, etc)
Pelecorhynchidae (pelecorhynchid flies)
Periscelididae (periscelidid flies)
Phoridae (coffin flies)
Piophilidae (skipper flies)
Pipunculidae (big-headed flies)
Platypezidae (flat-footed flies)
Platystomatidae (picturewinged flies)
Proneottiophilidae (proneottiophilids)
Pseudopomyzidae (pseudopomyzid flies)
Psilidae (carrot flies)
Pyrgotidae (pyrgotid flies)
Rachiceridae (rachicerids)
Rhagionidae (snipe flies)
Rhinophoridae (woodlouse flies)
Rhinotoridae (rhinotorid flies)
Richardiidae (picturewinged flies)
Risidae (risids)
Ropalomeridae (ropalomerid flies)
Sarcophagidae (flesh flies)
Scathophagidae or Scatophagidae(?) (scats, dung flies)
Scenopinidae (window flies)
Sciadoceridae (sciadocerid flies)
Sciomyzidae (marsh flies)
Sepsidae (black scavenger flies)
Somatiidae (somatiids)
Sphaeroceridae (dung flies)
Stratiomyidae (soldier flies)
Streblidae (bat flies)
Strongylophthalmyiidae (strongylophthalmyiid flies)
Syringogastridae (Gobrya genus)
Syrphidae (hover flies)
Tabanidae (deer flies, horseflies)
Tachinidae (parasite flies)
Tachiniscidae (tachiniscids)
Tanypezidae (tanypezid flies)
Tephritidae (fruit flies, gall flies)
Teratomyzidae (teratomyzid flies)
Termitoxeniidae (termitoxeniids)
Tethinidae (tenthinid flies)
Therevidae (stiletto flies)
Thyreophoridae (thyreophorid flies)
Trixoscelididae (trixoscelidid flies)
Ulidiidae (ulidiids)
Vermileonidae (worm lions)
Xenasteiidae (xenasteiid flies)
Xylomyidae (xylomyid flies)
Xylophagidae (xylophagid flies)

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