Diptera > Australian Drain Fly (Clogmia albipunctata) | Balaana Beefly (Balaana abscondita) | Bee Fly (family Bombyliidae, genus Anthrax sp.) | Grey-striped Fly (Sarcophaga aurifrons) | Steelblue Bluebottle (Chrysomya saffranea)

The Order Diptera (true flies) is derived from the Greek di – “two”, and pteron “wing”, with insects of this order using only a single pair of wings to fly. The hindwings having evolved into advanced mechanosensory organs known as halteres, which act as high-speed sensors of rotational movement and allow dipterans to perform advanced aerobatics.1

Sarcophaga aurifrons (Grey-striped Fly), Alice Springs, NT
Sarcophaga aurifrons (Grey-striped Fly), Alice Springs, NT

Diptera is a large order that is estimated to contain an estimated 1,000,000 species, although only about 125,000 species have currently been described.

Included in this group are many insects commonly known as mosquitoes, midges, sand flies, blowflies, crane flies, hoverflies and the house fly.

Balaana Beefly (Balaana abscondita), Alice Springs, NT
Balaana Beefly (Balaana abscondita), Alice Springs, NT

Some of the common characteristics of the order Diptera include2:

  • One pair of wings (forewings)
  • Hindwings reduced to club-like halteres
  • A large and moveable head
  • Compound eyes that are often very large
  • Sucking, piercing and sucking or sponge-like mouthparts (all adapted for a liquid diet)
  • The mesothorax (middle segment of the thorax or mid-body) is enlarged, with the prothorax and metathorax small
  • Complete metamorphosis, with larvae (maggots) that are always legless, with chewing mouthparts or mouth-hooks, and that often pupate within a hardened case (puparium)
Steelblue Bluebottle (Chrysomya saffranea)
Steelblue Bluebottle (Chrysomya saffranea), Alice Springs, NT

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Superorder: Panorpida
  • (unranked): Antliophora
  • Order: Diptera
Steelblue Bluebottle (Chrysomya saffranea)
Steelblue Bluebottle (Chrysomya saffranea), Alice Springs, NT

Footnote & References

  1. Fly, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly (last visited Feb. 12, 2022)
  2. Diptera, Linnaeus, 1758, Flies, Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn%3Alsid%3Abiodiversity.org.au%3Aafd.taxon%3A6bb27cbe-1bc6-4a7b-b348-e3b5677f239f
  3. Flies Order Diptera, iNaturalistAU, https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/taxa/47822-Diptera
  4. Flies and mosquitoes: Order Diptera, Australian Museum, https://australian.museum/learn/animals/insects/flies-and-mosquitoes-order-diptera/