Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes


Family Platypezidae - Flat-footed Flies

Fly ID - Polyporivora polypori - female Diptera - Bertamyia notata - male Genus Bertamyia Fly? - Bertamyia notata fly Unknown Flat-footed Fly Platypezid - Platypeza anthrax - female Fly with Fly
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon ("Aschiza")
Superfamily Platypezoidea
Family Platypezidae (Flat-footed Flies)
Other Common Names
Smoke Flies
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Genera treated in the Opetiinae in(1) now belong to 2 diff. subfamilies, Melanderomyiinae and Microsaniinae; the Palaearctic genus Opetia is now considered to be a sole member of Opetiidae, thus there is no subfamily Opetiinae in Platypezidae
Explanation of Names
Platypezidae Latreille 1829
4 subfamilies, with ~70 spp. in 17 genera in our area(2) and ~280 spp. in ~30 genera total(3)
Mostly 2-5 mm (but Calotarsa 6-10 mm)
Usually black or brown, enlarged hind tarsi.
Mostly n. hemisphere, incl. much of NA
Typically woodlands.
Late summer-fall. Brimley (4) lists collection dates of October for Platypeza in North Carolina. Insects of Cedar Creek (Minnesota) lists dates of August-September for Platypeza and July for Bertamyia.
Adults may feed on fungi. Some groups are reported to take honeydew from leaves (Chandler, The Flat-footed Flies of Europe--review here).
Males sometimes swarm, and females are attracted to these swarms. Some are attracted to smoke. (Do they mistake a column of smoke for a swarm? This seems possible.) Larvae live on fungi.
Some genera associated with stinkhorn mushrooms, Phallaceae (comments here).
Anna Botsford Comstock, in Handbook of Nature Study (1913), makes an interesting observation about spore dispersal in stinkhorn mushrooms:
The spores are borne in the chambers of the cap, and when ripe the substance of these chambers dissolves into a thick liquid in which the spores float. The flies are attracted by the fetid odor and come to feast upon these fungi and to lay their eggs within them, and incidentally they carry the spores away on their brushy feet, and thus help to spread the species.
The elongated tarsi have been suggested to be an adaptation for spreading the spores of host mushrooms.
Print References
Kessel, E. L. & Maggioncalda, E. A. 1968. A revision of the genera of Platypezidae, with the descriptions of five new genera, and considerations of phylogeny, circumversion, and hypopygia (Diptera). Wasmann J. Biol. 26: 33-106. (Full Text)
Internet References
Wikipedia Platypezidae page has good info and an excellent video of Agathomyia ovipositing.
Wing venation reference diagram for Platypezidae, with abbreviations and names for veins.
Works Cited
1.Manual of Nearctic Diptera Volume 2
Varies for each chapter; edited by J.F. McAlpine, B.V. Petersen, G.E. Shewell, H.J. Teskey, J.R. Vockeroth, D.M. Wood. 1987. Research Branch Agriculture Canada.
2.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
3.Order Diptera Linnaeus, 1758. In: Zhang Z.-Q. (ed.) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classification...
Pape T., Blagoderov V., Mostovski M.B. 2011. Zootaxa 3148: 222–229.
4.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
5.A review of the Platypezidae of Eastern North America
Johnson, C.W. 1923. Occasional Papers of the Boston Society of Natural History, 5: 51-58 + plate.
6.The flat-footed flies: (Diptera: Opetiidae and Platypezidae) of Europe
Chandler P.J. 2001. Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica 36. Brill Academic Pub. 278 pp.