What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

Logo: What Bug Is That? Logo: Taxonomy Research & Information Network


The Diptera form one of the larger insect orders, the world total of species, described and undescribed, probably being at least 150 000. Despite a considerable diversity of structure, almost all adults are immediately recognisable by the presence of only one pair of functional wings. The exceptions are the relatively few apterous species, which have other attributes, of mouth-parts, thorax, etc., that indicate their proper relationships. Such characters also distinguish the Diptera from the few other insects (some Ephemeroptera, some Derbidae, male Coccoidea) that have only two wings.

The interactive LUCID key available on this website (see the 'Identify Families' link) is from the 'On The Fly' CD and was written by Joanna Hamilton, David Yeates, Anne Hastings, Don Colless, Chris Manchester (CSIRO Entomology), David McAlpine, Dan Bickel (Australian Museum), Greg Daniels and Margaret Schneider (University of Queensland), Peter Cranston (University of California Davis USA) and Stephen Marshall (University of Guelph, Canada).

The Lucid key to the genera of Tabanidae was produced by Chris Manchester, CSIRO Entomology using Mackerras 1954, 1955, 1955b, 1956, 1956b, and 1961.

The order includes many common and familiar insects: mosquitoes, midges, sand flies, house flies, blowflies, etc. Some are important pests or vectors of disease, but others are beneficial, and, by virtue of their parasitic or predatory habits, play an important role in regulating the populations of many plants and animals that adversely affect human welfare. We may also note our special debt to the inconspicuous Drosophila , to which we owe so much of our basic knowledge of cytogenetics and genetic mechanisms.

Important general works include those on anatomy by Se'guy (1951), on the immature stages by Hennig (1948-52), Brauns (1954) and Ferrar (1988); on cytology by White (1949) and Boyes (1958); and on biology by Se'guy (1950, 1951) and Oldroyd (1964).

Important regional monographs include those by Lindner (1924-), for the Palaearctic; Griffiths (1980- ) and McAlpine et al. (1981, 1987), for the Nearctic; Hardy (1960-81) for Hawaii, Harrison (1959) for New Zealand, and Bezzi (1928) for Fiji; also, the series 'Fauna of (British) India', 'Diptera of Patagonia and South Chile', and 'Insects of Micronesia'.

Much of the world fauna has been catalogued: in So o s and Papp (1984-) (Palaearctic); Stone et al. (1965) (Nearctic); Departamento de Zoologia, Sao Paulo (1966-) (Neotropical); Crosskey et al. (1980) (Afrotropical); and Delfinado and Hardy (1973-77) (Oriental); a catalogue for the Australian and Oceanic regions is currently in preparation (Bishop Museum, Hawaii).


Endopterygote Neoptera, with a pair of membranous wings on mesothorax only, the metathoracic pair represented by club-like halteres; prothorax and metathorax greatly reduced; mouthparts of adults suctorial, often adapted for piercing. Larvae without true legs. Pupae adecticous and obtect or exarate, the latter in a puparium.

  • Bombyliidae

  • Tabanidae

  • Bibionidae

  • Blephariceridae

  • Dolichopodidae

  • Anthomyiidae

  • Chloropidae

  • Anisopodidae

  • Asilidae

  • Wingless Stratiomyidae