Ecology Research Group
Institute of Zoology und Anthropology
Diptera (flies & midges) are among the four hyper-diverse insect orders - the other three being the Lepidoptera (moths & butterflies), Coleoptera (beetles), and Hymenoptera (bees & wasps).
Rather the relationship between man and flies is probably best illustrated by a mosquito smashed on the bedroom wall.
Some dipteran species are indeed a nuisance, some are harmful, some are vectors of dangerous diseases, and some are pest species of cerials and other crops
Diptera belong to the holometabolous insects, that is, their life cycles are characterized by complete metamorphosis: In the course of its life time each individual must pass through four developmental stages:
Feeding habits of both larvae and adults are highly diverse in the Diptera, and certainly more diverse than, f.e., in the Lepidoptera.
Among the dipteran larvae there are
saprophages, which may feed on dead leaves, dead wood, carrion, etc., and the micro-organisms associated with such substrates;
Feeding habits of adult Diptera are also higly diverse: many species are predators as adults (f.e., the robber fly shown above), others are ectoparasites as the mosquito females, and saprophagy, too, occurs in many species. A large number of dipteran adults visits flowers (phytophagy) feeding on nectar and/or pollen. Finally, there are species, which do not take up any food at all as adults. Larval and adult feeding habits can be combined in virtually any way in individual species but adults of species with soil-dwelling predacious larvae are usually predators too or feed on nectar and/or pollen as flower visitors.
Ecological studies of Diptera have largely concentrated on species of economic importance, a few 'attractive' dipteran families such as the hoverflies, or species easily maintained in lab cultures. This has resulted in a poor representation of many dipteran families in ecological research, which is not justified.
HÖVEMEYER, K. (2000): Ecology of Diptera. In: PAPP, L.& DARVAS, B. (eds): Manual of Palaearctic Diptera. Science Herald, Budapest; pp: 437-489.