Therevidae are a family of flies of the superfamily Asiloidea
commonly known as stiletto flies. The family contains about 1,600
described species worldwide, most diverse in arid and semiarid regions
with sandy soils. The larvae are predators of insect larvae in
Johann Wilhelm Meigen
Johann Wilhelm Meigen EuropäischenZweiflügeligen.Showing
the gross features mentioned in the text (figures 5-9)
3 Systematics and phylogeny
4 Habitat and distribution
5 Species lists
8 External links
Therevidae are small- to medium-sized with a body length of 2.4
to 18 mm and a hairy integument. The coloration ranges from
shades of yellow to black, but commonly the background colour is
masked by the tomentum.
The compound eyes are generally larger in males, which in many species
are actually holoptic. Females have well-developed compound eyes, but
are clearly dichoptic. There are three ocelli. The antennae are
relatively short. The scape is elongated, the pedicel very short, and
the first flagellomere is conical and elongated, the apex bearing a
compound stylus with one to three segments. The scape and pedicel are
In contrast to the related and confusingly similar family Asilidae,
the labium in the
Therevidae is not a piercing, predatory organ, but
ends in two fleshy labella adapted to the sucking of liquid foods.
Another difference is that, though
Therevidae commonly have fluffy
setae above the mouthparts, the setae are not stiff bristles like the
protective chaetae comprising the mystax of most species of Asilidae.
Furthermore, in the
Asilidae the depression on the vertex between the
eyes, tends to be more obvious than in the Therevidae.
The thorax is broad and moderately convex, with long bristles
(macrotrichae). The legs are long and slender, with femora and tibiae
bearing bristles; the tibiae are without apical spurs and the tarsi
are provided with empodia or without the median pretarsal. The wings
are well developed, hyaline or opaque, often with pigmentation of the
veins located at the termination of the transverse and longitudinal
The abdomen is tapered and elongated, typically 3 to 4 times as long
as its broadest width when not extended for activities such as
oviposition. Eight abdominal segments (uriti) are externally visible.
Diagram of wing veins. Longitudinal veins: C: costa; Sc: subcosta; R:
radius; M: media; Cu: cubitus; A: anal. Crossveins: h: humeral; r-m:
radio-medial; m-m: medial; m-cu: medio-cubital.Cells: d: discal; br:
1st basal; bm: 2nd basal; r1: marginal; r3: 1st submarginal; r4: 2nd
submarginal; r5: 1st posterior; m1: 2nd posterior; m2: 3rd posterior;
m3: 4th posterior; cup: cell cup
The wing venation is relatively complex but without a particular
conformation to distinguish the
Therevidae from other families of
Asiloidea. The radius is divided into four branches, with R 2 +3
undivided. The branch R 4 is long and winding and reaches the costal
margin, the branch R 5 terminates on the posterior border, so the
second submarginal cell is open at the apex of the wing. The media is
divided into four branches, all independent but with M 3 and M 4
convergent. The transverse medial vein closes the discal cell. This
has an elongated shape and terminates at the apex with three angles
from which the first three branches of media spring. The fourth
branch, M 4 (or CuA 1 according to a different interpretation),
originates from the apex of the posterior basal discal cell. The cubit
and anal converge on a short common branch before reaching the apex.
The larva is apodous and eucephalic, cylindrical, very long and thin,
and with tapered ends. The integument is smooth, white, or pink. The
head capsule is well developed, but narrower than the other regions.
Oviposition of Thereva cincta
Knowledge of the biology of the
Therevidae is limited and fragmented.
The lifecycle is usually carried out in a single generation per year,
although some European
Therevidae have a cycle of two or more years.
The overwintering stage is represented by the mature larva. The
postembryonic development in known forms, five instars and pupation
takes place in the spring.
The larvae, like those of other Asiloidea, have an entomophagous diet
and they live as predators. They are generally found on dry, sandy
soils and dry litter. Larvae also are located in other substrates such
as decomposing organic matter and under the bark of trees. Among the
prey are the larvae and pupae of Diptera, Coleoptera, and Lepidoptera.
The observation of the behaviour of known forms highlights voracious
feeding and agile movements. When exposed to light, the larvae of the
Therevidae dig back into the substrate with rapid movements.
Adults feed mainly on nectar, honeydew, and pollen, but they
occasionally feed on liquid secretions of animal or vegetable origin.
They are found in various environments and can be found in streams,
meadows, open woodlands, or, like many other Asiloidea, in dry and
sandy places or on beaches. At rest, they choose various substrates
according to the species: some species rest on the ground, others on
rocks, vegetation,or intertidal debris. They are generally diurnal and
move in short, quick flights. Although inhabiting semiarid regions, or
possibly for that very reason, since that is where prey for their
larvae are likely to be plentiful, adults are particularly attracted
to water, generally remaining near pools or other sources of moisture.
Systematics and phylogeny
Therevidae is little known and it resembles other many
other Brachycera, both in morphology and ethology. The taxonomic
history of the
Therevidae accordingly has undergone repeated
revisions; in the past, many therevids were assigned to other
families, and many other
Brachycera were assigned to the Therevidae.
Since the 1970s however, there has been a great deal of
rationalisation of the taxonomy, particularly by Lyneborg and Irwin.
Revision of the higher taxa, based on the phylogenetic cladistic
relationships between various groups of
Asiloidea has led to a better
understanding of their ranks and interrelationships.
Therevidae sensu lato, were polyphyletic. It required
the reassignment of some subfamilies to other families, together with
adjustments to closely related families in the Asiloidea, to establish
consistent phylogenetic relationships. The
Therevidae now constitute a
monophyletic clade that English-speaking dipterologists call the
therevoid clade (clade of "Terevoidi"). This group has not been
assigned a ranking at any taxonomic level above the rank of family,
but for the present is recognised as a group of families within the
Scenopinidae and Therevidae
Mydidae und Apioceridae
Clade showing relationship of Asiloidea
At present, over 1, 600 species are known. After taxonomic revisions
by Lyneborg (1976) and Winterston et al. (2001), the family is divided
into four subfamilies, among which the most representative in size and
diffusion is the Therevinae:
Agapophytinae: 12 genera
Phycinae: 13 genera
Therevinae: 84 genera
Xestomyzinae: 12 genera
To the 121 living genera are added extinct genera, dating back to the
Cenozoic, Dasystethos , Glaesorthactia , Kroeberiella, and
Palaeopherocera, in doubt is Helicorhaphe
Habitat and distribution
The habitat of the
Therevidae is more varied than that of other
Asiloidea, but as in Asiloidea, preferred ecosystems better suit the
larvae, so these insects are more common in thickets of xerophilous
plants (garrigue and maquis, in deserts and on sandy beaches.
Therevidae are represented in all zoogeographical regions of the
Therevinae are present in all continents,
with a lower frequency in the eastern region . The Phycinae have
spread to the Afrotropical and the Holarctic. The Xestomyzinae are
mainly Afrotropical. The Agapophytinae are endemic to the Australasia
In Europe, only the subfamilies are represented:- Phycinae , with two
Therevinae , with 15 genera. A total of 98 species are
reported, two-thirds of which belong to the genus Thereva.
List of soldierflies and allies of Great Britain
Cole, F.R., 1923. A revision of the North American two-winged flies of
the family Therevidae. Proceedings of the U.S. National Museum, 62(4),
Cole, F.R., 1960 Stiletto-flies of the genus Furcifera Kröber
(Diptera: Therevidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America,
Gaimari, S.D., & M.E. Irwin , 2000. Phylogeny, classification, and
biogeography of the cycloteline
Therevinae (Insecta: Diptera:
Therevidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 129, 129-240.
Irwin, M.E., & L. Lyneborg, 1981. The genera of Nearctic
Therevidae. Illinois Natural History Bulletin, (1980) 32, 193-277.
Irwin, M.E., & D.W. Webb, 1992. Brasilian
Therevidae (Diptera): a
checklist and descriptions (sic) of species. Acta Amazonica, (1991)
Kröber, O. , 1911. Die Thereviden Süd- und Mittelamerikas. Annales
Musei Nationalis Hungarici, 9, 475-529. Keys genera, species.
Kröber, O. , 1912. Die Thereviden der indo-australischen Region. Keys
Kröber, O. , 1913. Therevidae.Genera.Ins. Keys (then) world genera.
Keys genera, species.
Kröber, O. , 1914. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Thereviden und
Omphraliden. Jahrbuch der Hamburgischen Wissenschaftlichen Anstalten,
(1913) 31, 29-74.
Kröber, O. , 1924_1925. Therevidae. Fiegen palaerakt. Reg. 4
Kröber, O. , 1928. Neue und wenig bekannte Dipteren aus den Familien
Omphralidae, Conopidae, und Therevidae. Konowia Zeitschrift für
Systematische Insektenkunde, 7, 113-134.
Kröber, O. , 1931. The
Therevidae (Diptera) of South Africa. Ann.
Transv. Mus.. 14:103-134. (see also Lyneborg).
Lyneborg, L. 1972. A revision of the Xestomyza-group of Therevidae.
(Diptera). Annals of the Natal Museum 21: 297–376. Keys African
Lyneborg, L. 1976. A revision of the Therevine stiletto-flies
(Diptera: Therevidae) of the Ethiopian Region. Bull. British Mus.
(Nat. Hist.). Entomology 33 (3): 191-346. Keys subfamilies and genera
Malloch, J. R. 1932. Rhagionidae, Therevidae. British Museum (Natural
History). Dept. of Entomology [eds] Diptera of Patagonia and South
Chile, based mainly on material in the British Museum (Natural
History). Part V. Fascicle 3. -
Rhagionidae (Leptidae), Therevidae,
Scenopenidae, Mydaidae, Asilidae, Lonchopteridae. pp. 199–293.
Keys genera, species.
Mann, JS.1928-1933 Revisional notes on Australian Therevidae. Part 1.
Australian Zoologist, 5, 151–. 194 (1928); Part 2 6:17-49 (1929);
Part 3 7:325-344. (1933).
Mating (species from Queensland, Australia)
Acrosathe annulata on the ground (video, 1m 48s)
^ German: Luchsfliegen
^ "Brian M. Wiegmann; David K. Yeates. (EN) Brachycera. The Tree of
Life Web Project, 2007. URL consulted in data 18-07-2009".
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Therevidae.
Therevidae site with many links
Therevidae of Australia
Therevidae at EOL Image Gallery
Extant Diptera families
Dixidae (meniscus midges)
Corethrellidae (frog-biting midges)
Chaoboridae (phantom midges)
Thaumaleidae (solitary midges)
Simuliidae (black flies)
Ceratopogonidae (biting midges)
Chironomidae (non-biting midges)
Blephariceridae (net-winged midges)
Deuterophlebiidae (mountain midges)
Bibionidae (march flies, lovebugs)
Anisopodidae (wood gnats)
Sciaridae (dark-winged fungus gnats)
Cecidomyiidae (gall midges)
Scatopsidae (minute black scavenger flies, or dung midges)
Psychodidae (moth flies)
Ptychopteridae (phantom crane flies)
Tanyderidae (primitive crane flies)
Trichoceridae (winter crane flies)
Pediciidae (hairy-eyed craneflies)
Tipulidae (crane flies)
Apioceridae (flower-loving flies)
Asilidae (robber flies)
Bombyliidae (bee flies)
Hilarimorphidae (hilarimorphid flies)
Mydidae (mydas flies)
Scenopinidae (window flies)
Therevidae (stiletto flies)
Hybotidae (dance flies)
Dolichopodidae (long-legged flies)
Empididae (dagger flies, balloon flies)
Acroceridae (small-headed flies)
Nemestrinidae (tangle-veined flies)
Phoridae (scuttle flies, coffin flies, humpbacked flies)
Opetiidae (flat-footed flies)
Ironomyiidae (ironic flies)
Lonchopteridae (spear-winged flies)
Platypezidae (flat-footed flies)
Pipunculidae (big-headed flies)
Conopidae (thick-headed flies)
Pallopteridae (flutter flies)
Piophilidae (cheese flies)
Platystomatidae (signal flies)
Tephritidae (peacock flies)
Ulidiidae (picture-winged flies)
Micropezidae (stilt-legged flies)
Neriidae (cactus flies, banana stalk flies)
Diopsidae (stalk-eyed flies)
Psilidae (rust flies)
Coelopidae (kelp flies)
Sepsidae (black scavenger flies)
Sciomyzidae (marsh flies)
Sphaeroceridae (small dung flies)
Celyphidae (beetle-backed flies)
Chamaemyiidae (aphid flies)
Agromyzidae (leaf miner flies)
Aulacigastridae (sap flies)
Clusiidae (lekking, or druid flies)
Neurochaetidae (upside-down flies)
Curtonotidae (quasimodo flies)
Diastatidae (bog flies)
Ephydridae (shore flies)
Drosophilidae (vinegar and fruit flies)
Braulidae (bee lice)
Canacidae (beach flies)
Chloropidae (frit flies)
Milichiidae (freeloader flies)
Lonchaeidae (lance flies)
Anthomyiidae (cabbage flies)
Fanniidae (little house flies)
Muscidae (house flies, stable flies)
Scathophagidae (dung flies)
Calliphoridae (blow-flies: bluebottles, greenbottles)
Mystacinobiidae (New Zealand batfly)
Sarcophagidae (flesh flies)
Tachinidae (tachina flies)
Glossinidae (tsetse flies)
Hippoboscidae (louse flies)
Mormotomyiidae (frightful hairy fly)
Nycteribiidae (bat flies)
Streblidae (bat flies)
Pantophthalmidae (timber flies)
Stratiomyidae (soldier flies)
Xylomyidae (wood soldier flies)
Rhagionidae (snipe flies)
Athericidae (water snipe flies)
Tabanidae (horse and deer flies)
Xylophagidae (awl flies)
List of families of Diptera
Fauna Europaea: 10968