Hippoboscoidea is a superfamily of the Calyptratae. The flies in this superfamily are blood-feeding obligate parasites of their hosts. Four families are often placed here:

(Note that the Mystacinobiidae, while also a bat fly, belongs to the superfamily Oestroidea).

The Hippoboscidae are commonly called louse flies or ked flies. The bat flies are Nycteribiidae and Streblidae (along with Mystacinobiidae); the Streblidae are probably not monophyletic.[1] The family Glossinidae, monotypic as to genus, contains the tsetse flies, economically important as the vectors of trypanosomiasis. The enigmatic Mormotomyiidae are entirely monotypic at present, with the single species Mormotomyia hirsuta known from one locality in Kenya. Most probably, the Mormotomyiidae belong to the Ephydroidea and not to Hippoboscoidea as previously constructed.[2]

In older literature, this group is often referred to as the Pupipara ("pupa-bearers"), because, unlike virtually all other insects, most of the larval development takes place inside the mother's body, and pupation occurs almost immediately after "birth" – in essence, instead of laying eggs, a female lays full-sized pupae one at a time. In the strict sense, the Pupipara only encompass the Hippoboscidae, Nycteribiidae, and "Streblidae", which in older works were all included in the Hippoboscidae.

Tsetse fly (genus Glossina)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
(unranked): Eremoneura
(unranked): Cyclorrhapha
Section: Schizophora
Subsection: Calyptratae
Superfamily: Hippoboscoidea

About 5, see text.


Species of the Hippoboscoidea do not lay eggs. Instead, the larvae hatch in utero, are fed internally by 'milk glands', and pass through three morphological stages before being deposited to pupate. This type of reproduction is termed as Adenotrophic viviparity.[3]


  1. ^ Petersen et al. (2007)
  2. ^ Kirk-Spriggs, A.H., Kotrba, M. & Copeland, R.S. 2011. Further details of the morphology of the enigmatic African fly Mormotomyia hirsuta Austen (Diptera: Mormotomyiidae). African Invertebrates 52 (1): 145-165."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-04. Retrieved 2011-10-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Krafsur, E. S. "Tsetse flies: genetics, evolution, and role as vectors." Infection, Genetics and Evolution 9.1 (2009): 124-141.

Further reading

  • Borror, Donald J.; Triplehorn, Charles A. & Johnson, Norman F. (1989): An Introduction to the Study of Insects (6th ed.). Saunders College Pub., Philadelphia. ISBN 0-03-025397-7
  • Petersen, Frederik Torp; Meier, Rudolf; Kutty, Sujatha Narayanan & Wiegmann, Brian M. (2007): The phylogeny and evolution of host choice in the Hippoboscoidea (Diptera) as reconstructed using four molecular markers. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 45(1): 111–122. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.04.023 (HTML abstract)

Austrolfersia is a genus of biting flies in the family of louse flies, Hippoboscidae. There is only one known species, Austrolfersia ferrisi Bequaert, 1953. It is a parasite of Diprotodontia.


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.


Crataerina is a genus of louse flies in the family Hippoboscidae. All are parasites of birds, feeding on the blood of various species of Apodidae (swifts) and Hirundinidae (swallows and martins). The genus is sometimes spelled Craterina.


Enischnomyia is an extinct genus of bat fly in the family Streblidae. At the time of its description the new genus was comprised of a single species Enischnomyia stegosoma known from a single Miocene fossil found on Hispaniola. E. stegosoma was the first fossil steblid bat fly described from a fossil, and the only member of the subfamily Nycterophiliinae described from Hispaniola. The species is host for the plasmodiid Vetufebrus ovatus preserved in its salvary glands and midgut.


Hippobosca is a genus of flies in the family Hippoboscidae. There are only 7 known species. There are numerous synonyms.


Hippoboscidae, the louse flies or keds, are obligate parasites of mammals and birds. In this family, the winged species can fly at least reasonably well, though others with vestigial or no wings are flightless and highly apomorphic. As usual in their superfamily Hippoboscoidea, most of the larval development takes place within the mother's body, and pupation occurs almost immediately.

The sheep ked, Melophagus ovinus, is a wingless, reddish-brown fly that parasitizes sheep. The Neotropical deer ked, Lipoptena mazamae, is a common ectoparasite of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the southeastern United States. Both winged and wingless forms may be seen. A common winged species is Hippobosca equina, called "the louse fly" among riders. Species in other genera are found on birds; for example, Ornithomya bequaerti has been collected from birds in Alaska. Two species of the Hippoboscidae – Ornithoica (Ornithoica) podargi and Ornithomya fuscipennis are also common parasites of the tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) of Australia.

Pseudolynchia canariensis is commonly found on pigeons and doves, and can serve as the vector of "pigeon malaria" (Haemoproteus columbae). Louse flies of birds may transmit other parasites such as those in the genus Plasmodium or other Haemoproteus parasites. Some evidence indicates that other Hippoboscidae can serve as vectors of disease agents to mammals. For example, a louse fly of the species Icosta americana was found with West Nile Virus infection from an American Kestrel


Lipoptena is a genus of Hippoboscidae, known as louse flies or keds.


Melophagus is a genus of biting flies in the family of louse flies, Hippoboscidae. There are three known species and one subspecies. All are parasites of bovids. All are wingless.


The family Mormotomyiidae (Diptera: Ephydroidea) contains only one known species, Mormotomyia hirsuta, commonly known as the frightful hairy fly or terrible hairy fly, which is found in Kenya. The fly was first described by English entomologist Ernest Edward Austen, and specimens have been collected from one location on a mountain in the Ukasi Hill (Okazzi Hills), in a cleft where a bat roost is located; this may possibly be the most restricted geographic distribution for any fly family. The larvae have been collected from bat guano. Adult flies are believed to feed on bodily secretions of bats. The fly measures about 1 cm long, with hairy legs, and, due to its nonfunctional wings and tiny eyes, looks more like a spider than a fly. Specimens have been collected only three times, in 1933, 1948, and 2010. Tested members of the population showed higher levels of genetic variation than would be expected for such a restricted range, suggesting additional undiscovered populations exist and gene flow occurs between them and the known population in Ukasi Hill.


The Brachyceran infraorder Muscomorpha is a large and diverse group of flies, containing the bulk of the Brachycera, and, most of the known flies. It includes a number of the most familiar flies, such as the housefly, the fruit fly, and the blow fly. The antennae are short, usually three-segmented, with a dorsal arista. Their bodies are often highly setose, and the pattern of setae is often taxonomically important.

The larvae of muscomorphs (in the sense the name is used here; see below) have reduced head capsules, and the pupae are formed inside the exoskeleton of the last larval instar; exit from this puparium is by a circular line of weakness, and this pupal type is called "cyclorrhaphous"; this feature gives this group of flies their traditional name, Cyclorrhapha.


Myophthiria is a genus of biting flies in the family of louse flies, Hippoboscidae. There are 13 known species. All species are Parasites of birds.


Neolipoptena is a genus of Hippoboscidae, known as louse flies or deer keds. There is only one known species - Neolipoptena ferrisi.


Nycteribiidae of the true fly superfamily Hippoboscoidea are known as "bat flies", together with their close relatives the Streblidae. As the latter do not seem to be a monophyletic group, it is conceivable not to unite all bat flies in a single family.They are flattened, spiderlike flies without eyes or wings, and are seldom encountered by general collectors, as they almost never leave the bodies of their hosts. Both males and females take blood meals, thus they qualify as real parasites. Most species are highly host-specific. The family is primarily found in the Old World tropics; a few of the 274 known species occur in the Neotropics and in Europe.


Ornithomya are genus of biting flies in the family of louse flies, Hippoboscidae. There are 29 known species. All species are parasites of birds.


Ornithomyinae is a subfamily of the fly family Hippoboscidae. All are blood feeding parasites, for the most part on birds, though some have mammals as hosts.


Ovoviviparity, ovovivipary, ovivipary, or aplacental viviparity is a mode of reproduction in animals in which embryos that develop inside eggs remain in the mother's body until they are ready to hatch. This method of reproduction is similar to viviparity, but the embryos have no placental connection with the mother and generally receive their nourishment from a yolk sac. In some species, yolk sac supplies are supplemented, or largely replaced by, uterine secretions or other maternal provisioning. Examples include trophic eggs in the uterus, or even intrauterine cannibalism.

Extreme examples of intrauterine secretions occur in some species of insects; for instance, females of some Glossinidae, Hippoboscidae and other Hippoboscoidea retain one larva at a time in the uterus, where it feeds on intrauterine secretions analogous to "milk". When the young insect has completed its larval metamorphosis, the mother deposits it where it can dig in and pupate without further attention. She then proceeds to raise the next larva in the uterus.

The young of some ovoviviparous amphibians such as Limnonectes larvaepartus, are born as larvae, and undergo further metamorphosis outside the body of the mother. Members of genera Nectophrynoides and Eleutherodactylus bear froglets, not only the hatching, but all the most conspicuous metamorphosis, being completed inside the body of the mother before birth.

Among insects that depend on opportunistic exploitation of transient food sources, such as many Sarcophagidae and other carrion flies, and species such as many Calliphoridae, that rely on fresh dung, and parasitoids such as tachinid flies that depend on entering the host as soon as possible, the embryos commonly develop to the first larval instar inside the mother's reproductive tract, and they hatch just before being laid or almost immediately afterwards.

Pseudolynchia canariensis

Pseudolynchia canariensis, the pigeon louse fly or pigeon fly, is a species of biting fly in the family of louse flies, Hippoboscidae.


The Streblidae are flies in the superfamily Hippoboscoidea, and together with their relatives the Nycteribiidae, are known as bat flies. They are winged or wingless ectoparasites of bats, and often have long legs. They appear to be host-specific, with different species of bat flies occurring only on particular species of bat hosts, sometimes with multiple species of flies sharing a host bat.


The Brachyceran infraorder Tabanomorpha is a small group that consists primarily of two large families, the Tabanidae (horse and deer flies) and Rhagionidae (snipe flies), and an assortment of very small affiliated families, most of which have been (or could be, or sometimes are) included within the Rhagionidae. The Tabanomorpha is one of the two Brachyceran groups outside the Hippoboscoidea that contain blood-feeding (hematophagous) species, though they are not important disease vectors.

The larvae of tabanomorphs are primarily found in aquatic or semi-aquatic habitats, and are predatory. They often have "warts" or other body projections that may resemble the prolegs of caterpillars.

Extant Diptera families


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.