Order Diptera: Flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and midges.
The this group is the true flies. Diptera means 'two winged', and
flies have only two wings. The other groups we have discussed have either four
wings or no wings at all. Flies have complete metamorphosis. Flies have several
types of mouthparts. For example, mosquito adults have piercing-sucking mouthparts,
deer flies have biting, and others sponging. Most of the larvae are legless.
Pictured above is a flower fly adult and a larva. Note that this larva is an
Kentucky Examples of the Order Diptera:
This is another example of complete metamorphosis with flies. This is a
crane fly larva, referred to as a leatherjacket. Adult crane flies like the one in the
corner are sometimes referred to as mosquito hawks. However, they are not pests
like mosquitoes, in fact they do not feed in the adult stage.
This is a species of soldier fly. In this photo the two wings
can be seen clearly as well as a short knoblike process behind one of the lower
wings. This knoblike process is called a haltere and replaces a hind wing for
flies. The one on the other side is not clearly visible.
Some flies are beneficial, as is this one. This is a tachinid
parasitoid that attacks squash bugs. The female deposits her egg directly on
the squash bug, the egg hatches and the fly larva enters and feeds on the squash
bug. Parasitoids are parasites that kill their prey.
The black horse fly is the largest of the horse fly species in
Kentucky. This horse fly is a blood feeder, slashing the hide of the animal
and sponging blood from the wound.
One of the more unpleasant encounters in the landscape is the
mosquito. Some of the mosquito females are blood feeders, others feed on pollen
and nectar. Larvae are aquatic and filter feeders. Male mosquitoes are not blood
feeders. Several species of mosquitoes are of importance as vectors of human
Flies play important roles in the environment, while some are
serious pests, others are predators, parasitoids, scavengers, or pollinators.
Updated November 2005