The females of many species feed on blood. Mosquitoes pierce the skin and suck the blood of their host with needle-like jaws, while others such as the horse-flies cut the skin with knife-like mouth parts, then mop up the blood. Large numbers of flies can debilitate their host, but perhaps worse is the spread of diseases such as malaria.

The larvae of the different species of Diptera are extremely variable in form and habit. The stereotype are the pale, wriggling, flesh eating maggots of blow-flies, but there are others. Many are aquatic such as the larvae of the mosquito and the 'rat-tailed maggots' of some of the hoverflies, while others live within plants, or are parasites within the bodies of other insects, molluscs and even mammals.

The  larvae of Diptera do not have legs, but may have other appendages to help in mobility. Many also have biting jaws.

Diptera go through a pupal stage. The pupae may be similar to the familiar static pupae of the lepidoptera, or highly mobile as are the pupae of the mosquitoes.

The Diptera are of great importance to humans as economic pests, human parasites and vectors of disease. Despite this a large amount of their influence on man is positive as they are an effective biological control of other insect species, important plant pollinators and act as a massive waste disposal team clearing away corpses and rotting vegetation.


'Glossary' opens extra window


Diptera introduction

Page 1     Page 2