Flies (Diptera)

Greek "di" (two) + "ptera" (wings)
The insect order Diptera, which means "two wings", includes not only flies but also mosquitoes, midges, no-see-ums, and gnats. Their larvae are often called maggots or wrigglers. Diptera have only one pair of wings; a second pair of wings evolved into small dumb-bell shaped "halteres", which are used for balance during flight. Diptera have large eyes, and antennae, either long or short. They live in moist environments and spend most of their day in the air, in flight. Diptera and their larvae eat almost everything, including flower nectar, blood, and decomposing organic matter. Their mouth parts are adapted for sucking. The Diptera are known world-wide as transmitters of disease such as malaria and yellow fever, and as agricultural pests, but they also provide useful services of decomposition and pollinating flowering plants.

Which Diptera is it?    Keep Going


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Black Soldier Fly
© 2008 Joyce Gross
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Common Flesh Fly
T. W. Davies © 1999 California Academy of Sciences
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Blow Fly
T. W. Davies © 1999 California Academy of Sciences


Quick ID

  • Only two wings
  • Sponging-sucking mouthparts (mosquitos: piercing)

More information about Flies

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Last updated: Jan 2, 2017