Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Order Diptera - Flies

red midge Small-headed fly - Acrocera - female coyote brush gall midge - Rhopalomyia californica Toxomerus geminatus? - Toxomerus geminatus - female possible Lovebug (Plecia nearctica) - Dilophus spinipes - male - female Southern Yellowjacket Fly - Dorsal  - Meromacrus acutus St. Andrews leaf miner on Wisteria floribunda SA2294 2023 5 - Agromyza new-species-on-wisteria Crane Fly - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
Other Common Names
The common names of the members of order Diptera are written as two words: crane fly, robber fly, bee fly, moth fly, fruit fly, etc. The common names of non-dipterans that have "fly" in their name are written as one word: butterfly, stonefly, dragonfly, scorpionfly, sawfly, caddisfly, whitefly, etc.
Explanation of Names
Diptera Linnaeus 1758
'two-winged' (the name dates back to Aristotle, who noted that typical insects have four wings(1))
~17,000 spp. in 2,222 genera of ~110 families in our area, the number of described species steadily growing(2); >150,000 described extant species in ~160 families total(3)(4)(5)
DRAFT: Families represented in our area
Classification adapted from(5). Non-monophyletic groups in quotation marks; taxa not yet in the guide marked (*). BG family wish list and how to find members of the missing families here.
Infraorder Bibionomorpha
Superfamily Diopsoidea Diopsidae · Psilidae
0.5–40 mm
Adult flies, except for wingless species, have two functional wings and two halteres. Males of some mayflies and scale insects have only front wings. A few tiny parasitic wasps, e.g. Mymarommatidae, have their hind wings reduced, but these can be distinguished from flies as the wasps have only one vein in their front wings and flies always have two or more veins in their wings as long as their wings are membranous.
Treatment of our fauna down to genus level in (6)(7)
For anatomy and terminology see (8)
Keys to larvae (UK fauna) in (9)
Keys to families of aquatic larvae(10)(11)(12)(13)(14)
Life Cycle
3‒6 larval stages(15)
The classification adopted here uses several paraphyletic groups(16). A recent summary of higher taxonomy & phylogeny in (5); major changes expected.
Print References
Internet References
Works Cited
1.Insects: Their Natural History And Diversity: With a Photographic Guide to Insects of Eastern North America
Stephen A. Marshall. 2006. Firefly Books Ltd.
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.Thompson F.C., Pape T., Evenhuis N.L. (2013) Systema Dipterorum, Version 1.5
5.Episodic radiations in the fly tree of life
Wiegmann B.M. et al. 2011. PNAS 108(14): 5690‒5695.
6.Manual of Nearctic Diptera Volume 1
Varies for each chapter; edited by J.F. McAlpine, B.V. Petersen, G.E. Shewell, H.J. Teskey, J.R. Vockeroth, D.M. Wood. 1981. Research Branch Agriculture Canada.
7.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.
8.Anatomical Atlas of Flies
9.An introduction to the immature stages of British flies
Smith K.G.V. 1989. RES Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 10(14); 280 pp.
10.Guide to Aquatic Invertebrates of the Upper Midwest
University of Minnesota. 2004. University of Minnesota.
11.Digital key to aquatic insects of North Dakota
12.Bright E. (2002-2011) Aquatic Insects of Michigan
13.Parker D. (-2012) AquaTax Consulting
14.Clifford H.F. (1991) Aquatic invertebrates of Alberta
15.The Insects : Structure and Function
R. F. Chapman. 1998. Cambridge University Press.
16.Phylogeny and systematics of Diptera: Two decades of progress and prospects
Yeates D.K., Wiegmann B.M., Courtney G.W., Meier R., Lambkin C., Pape T. 2007. Zootaxa 1668: 565–590.
17.History of insects
Rasnitsyn A.P., Quicke D.L., eds. 2002. Kluwer Academic Publisher Dordrecht, xii + 517 pp.
18.A Catalog of the Diptera of America North of Mexico
Alan Stone, et al. 1965. United States Department of Agriculture.
19.The families and genera of North American Diptera
Charles H. Curran. 1934. Ballou Press, New York, NY.
20.Field/Photo ID for Flies: Fly Guide
22.The Diptera Site