The insect order Diptera includes the true flies. Here are a few facts about insects belonging to the order Diptera:

  • Flies
  • Only 1 pair of wings (on mesothorax). Hind wings are reduced to halteres.
  • Mostly small insects.
  • Importance as plant pests, but also bloodsucking flies, important as vectors of human and animal diseases (malaria, sleeping sickness).
  • Mouthparts of sucking type. Often adapted to absorb liquids, sometimes piercing.
  • Complete metamorphosis.
  • Larvae are called maggots. Legless, wormlike larvae, often with a reduced head. Many larvae live in water. In plant feeding species the larvae often live within the plant tissues, leaf miners, gall insects, stem or root borers.
  • Adult diptera feed on plant juices, like nectar. Some are blood feeding on animals. Many are predaceous on other insects.


The order Diptera is divided into a number of families. Some families containing important agricultural pests are:

  • Cecidomyiidae = Gall midges or Gall gnats
  • Tephritidae (= Trypetidae) = Fruit flies
  • Agromyzidae = Leafminer flies
  • Diopsidae = Stalk-eyed flies
  • Muscidae = Muscid flies
  • Anthomyiidae = Anthomiid flies

Good to know

The order Diptera are the true flies. It includes insects such as the house fly, the horse fly and the fruit fly. But the word fly is often used in names of insects that are not true flies. For example butterflies, dragonflies and fireflies are not flies. The firefly is actually a beetle.

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