VCSU Macro-Invertabrate Lab
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Diptera Family List
Diptera Family Key
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Order Diptera - The flies and mosquitoes
Midge larvae Aquatic Long-legged fly larvae Mosquito larvae
The Diptera contains many well known flies with aquatic larvae - the blackflies, mosquitoes, horseflies, midges, and the craneflies to name a few. Diptera larvae are legless creatures with many diverse and sometimes bizarre appearances. Therefore, identification can sometimes be a difficult proposition. We have tried to provide as simple a key as possible, but this group may prove more challenging than most to identify.

General Life cycle - The Diptera undergo complete metamorphosis with a larval, pupal, and adult stage. The larvae are very different in appearance from the adults. The pupal stage is period of transformation between these two different forms. The larvae are usually found in the bottom sediments, in vegetation, or sometimes suspended from the water surface. Most larvae do not swim and have a variety of adaptations for breathing which accounts for their sometimes strange shapes. Larval development can take as little as one week to as long as one year. They usually do not spend a long period of time as pupae. When the adults are ready to emerge from the pupal case some will do it very quickly while others must take time for their new adult skin to harden. Mating by the adults usually takes place in the air and is sometimes done in large swarms. The eggs are laid in a wide variety of ways with the result of the eggs or hatching larvae eventually entering the water (at least for the members of this group with aquatic larvae).

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