The Cryptochetidae are a small family of tiny flies (generally 2 to 4 mm long). Some twenty to thirty species are known. Generally they are metallic blue black, stoutly built, with the head broad and high and with clear wings. Like other species in the superfamily Lonchaeoidea, the Cryptochetidae have antennae with a cleft in the second segment. Unlike practically all Schizophora however, they lack an arista, or if they do have one, it is too small to distinguish with any confidence. The family name refers to this unusual distinction; "Cryptochetidae" literally means "those with hidden bristles". The adult flies also are unusual among insects in that they have only a single pair of abdominal spiracles — this is not a serious physiological challenge in such small insects.
Again in resemblance to other Lonchaeoidea, the Cryptochetidae do not have more than one proclinate orbital bristle on each side. The frons is densely setulose. The costa has a break at the end of the subcosta. The sixth abdominal sternite in the male is symmetrical and it has an 8th tergite. In the female the seventh tergite and sternite are fused, and the eighth segment is elongated.
The larvae are of biological and economic interest, being endoparasitoids of coccids. In Cryptochetum iceryae, which parasitizes Icerya, there are four larval instars. The first instar is sac-like and lacks both trophi and tracheae but at the caudal end it bears a pair of finger-like processes. The caudal end of the digestive tract is closed. During subsequent instars the caudal processes grow longer and become filamentous; in the final instar they are much longer than the whole body. These filaments probably are respiratory organs. Only a few species of Cryptochetidae have been described, and most of those occur in tropical countries. At one time they were allocated to the Agromyzidae but now are regarded as a separate family.
|Cryptochetid flies mating|
These three genera belong to the family Cryptochetidae:
The Acalyptratae or Acalyptrata are a subsection of the Schizophora, which are a section of the order Diptera, the "true flies". In various contexts the Acalyptratae also are referred to informally as the acalyptrate muscoids, or acalyptrates, as opposed to the Calyptratae. All forms of the name refer to the lack of calypters in the members of this subsection of flies. An alternative name, Acalypterae is current, though in minority usage. It was first used by Justin Pierre Marie Macquart in 1835 for a section of his tribe Muscides; he used it to refer to all acalyptrates plus scathophagids and phorids, but excluding Conopidae.
The confusing forms of the names stem from their first usage; Acalyptratae and Acalyptrata actually are adjectival forms in New Latin. They were coined in the mid 19th century in contexts such as "Muscae Calyptratae and Acalyptratae" and "Diptera Acalyptrata", and the forms stuck.The Acalyptratae are a large assemblage, exhibiting very diverse habits, with one notable and perhaps surprising exception: no known acalyptrates are obligate blood-feeders (hematophagous), though blood feeding at various stages of the life history is common throughout other Dipteran sections.Asilomorpha
The Brachyceran infraorder Asilomorpha is a large and diverse group of flies, containing the bulk of the nonmuscoid Brachycera. The larvae of asilomorphs are extremely diverse in habits, as well.Calyptratae
Calyptratae is a subsection of Schizophora in the insect order Diptera, commonly referred to as the calyptrate muscoids (or simply calyptrates). It consists of those flies which possess a calypter that covers the halteres, among which are some of the most familiar of all flies, such as the house fly.
About 18,000 described species are in this group, or about 12% of all the flies yet described.Carnoidea
Carnoidea are a superfamily of Acalyptratae flies.Chironomoidea
The Chironomoidea are a superfamily within the order Diptera, suborder Nematocera, infraorder Culicomorpha. This superfamily contains the families Chironomidae, Ceratopogonidae, Simuliidae, and Thaumaleidae. One of the more important characteristics used to define them is the form of the larval mouthparts.Cryptochetum
Cryptochetum is a genus of scale parasite flies in the family Cryptochetidae. There are at least 30 described species in Cryptochetum.Cryptochetum iceryae
Cryptochetum iceryae, the cottony cushion scale parasite, is a species of scale parasite fly in the family Cryptochetidae. Originating in Australia, it was deliberately introduced to California in the 1880s in an attempt to control cottony cushion scale, and has also been introduced to Israel and South America. In 2019, the species was discovered in the United Kingdom for the first time, having been identified in the wildlife garden at the Natural History Museum.Culicoidea
The Culicoidea are a superfamily within the order Diptera. The following families are included within the Culicoidea:
Dixidae – meniscus midges
Corethrellidae – frog-biting midges
Chaoboridae – phantom midges
Culicidae – mosquitoesCulicomorpha
The Culicomorpha are an infraorder of Nematocera, including mosquitoes, black flies, and several extant and extinct families of insects.Ironomyiidae
The Ironomyiidae, or ironic flies, are a small family of insects of the order Diptera. Historically, they have been included in the family Platypezidae, and includes three extant species and a number of extinct fossil species.Lauxanioidea
The Lauxanioidea are a superfamily of flies that includes the two large families, the Lauxaniidae and Chamaemyiidae, and the small family Celyphidae. Generally, they are small to medium, densely populated, coloured flies. The Chamaemyiidae and Cremifaniidae live as parasites on insects. The family Celyphidae look like beetles.
Some authors also recognize the family Cremifaniidae, but most place this in the Chamaemyiidae.Lonchaeoidea
The Lonchaeoidea are a superfamily of generally small or very small black flies with large heads. It contains two families, the Lonchaeidae (lance flies) and the Cryptochetidae. The superfamily was established by G. C. Griffiths in 1972 and came into general use as such.Characteristics of the Lonchaeoidea include antennae with the second segment cleft, and not more than one proclinate orbital bristle on each side. The frons is densely setulose.Muscoidea
Muscoidea is a superfamily of flies in the subsection Calyptratae. Muscoidea, with approximately 7000 described species, is nearly 5% of the known species level diversity of the Diptera, the true flies. Most muscoid flies are saprophagous, coprophagous or necrophagous as larvae, but some species are parasitic, predatory, or phytophagous.Oestroidea
Oestroidea is a superfamily of Calyptratae including the blow flies, bot flies, flesh flies, and their relatives.The superfamily includes the families:
Mesembrinellidae (formerly included in Calliphoridae)
Rhiniidae (formerly included in Calliphoridae)
Sciaroidea is a superfamily in the infraorder Bibionomorpha. There are about 16 families and more than 15,000 described species in Sciaroidea. Most of its constituent families are various gnats.Tabanoidea
Superfamily Tabanoidea are insects in the order Diptera.Tephritoidea
The Tephritoidea are a superfamily of flies. The following families are included:
Pallopteridae — flutter flies
Piophilidae — skippers
Platystomatidae — signal flies
Tephritidae — fruit flies
Ulidiidae (Otitidae) — picture-winged fliesThe Tachiniscinae, formerly ranked as the family Tachiniscidae, are now included in the Tephritidae.Tipuloidea
Tipuloidea is a superfamily of flies containing the living families Cylindrotomidae, Limoniidae, Pediciidae and Tipulidae, and the extinct families Architipulidae and Eolimnobiidae.At least 15,300 species of crane flies have been described, most of them (75%) by the specialist Charles Paul Alexander.Tipulomorpha
The Tipulomorpha are an infraorder of Nematocera, containing the crane flies, a very large group, and allied families.
One recent classification based largely on fossils splits this group into a series of extinct superfamilies (below), and includes members of other infraorders, but this has not gained wide acceptance.