The Lonchopteridae (spear-winged flies or pointed-wing flies) are a family of small (2–5 mm), slender, yellow to brownish-black Diptera, occurring all over the world. Their common name refers to their pointed wings, which have a distinct venation. Many are parthenogenic; males are very rare, however, at least in North American species, and have a somewhat different venation than do the females.[1][2]

Lonchopteridae wing veins-male
wing venation (male)

Spear-winged flies are common in moist, shady, grassy areas, where the larvae are found within decaying vegetation. One species, Lonchoptera bifurcata, is cosmopolitan in distribution, and may have been transported via shipments of vegetables.[1][2]

Lonchoptera lutea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Superfamily: Platypezoidea
Family: Lonchopteridae
Curtis, 1839
4 living genera
  • Lonchopteroidea
  • Musidoridae


For terms see Morphology of Diptera.
The Lonchopteridae are minute, slender flies with long wings which are pointed at the apex. The head is rounded, with the outer vertical bristles, inner vertical bristles, ocellar bristles, interfrontal bristles, and bristles along the margin of the broad mouth very well developed. The mesonotum and scutellum and legs have well developed bristles. The radial vein R has three branches (R1, R2+3, R4+5). The median vein M is furcate (M1, M2). The anal vein A merges with the cubital vein Cu (female) or terminates freely (male).


They are usually placed in the superfamily of flat-footed flies and allies (Platypezoidea). If the Platypezoidea are restricted to the flat-footed flies sensu stricto, the spear-winged flies are united with the Ironomyiidae and the coffin and scuttle flies (Phoridae) as Phoroidea. More rarely, they are treated as monotypic superfamily a.

Four[3] living genera are in this family, encompassing some 50 described species altogether:[4]

  • Homolonchoptera Yang, 1999
  • Lonchoptera Meigen, 1803
  • Neolonchoptera Vaillant, 1989
  • Spilolonchoptera Yang, 1998

Two fossil genera of spear-winged flies have been described:[4]

  • Lonchopterites Grimaldi & Cumming, 1999
  • Lonchopteromorpha Grimaldi & Cumming, 1999



  1. ^ a b Smith, K.G.V. (1969): Handbook for the Identification of British Insects 10(2ai: Diptera Lonchopteridae): 1–9.
  2. ^ a b Borror, D.J.; Triplehorn, C.A. & Johnson, N.A. (1989): An Introduction to the Study of Insects (6th edition). Saunders College Publishing.
  3. ^ Tree of Life Web Project (2007). "Lonchopteridae - Spear-winged flies". Tree of Life Web Project.
  4. ^ a b Tree of Life Web Project (ToL) (2007): Lonchopteridae. Version of 2007-NOV-29. Retrieved 2009-APR-07.

External links


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 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.


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.


The Culicomorpha are an infraorder of Nematocera, including mosquitoes, black flies, and several extant and extinct families of insects.


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.

Leander Czerny

Leander (Franz) Czerny (4 October 1859, in Modřice, Moravia – 22 November 1944, in Pettenbach (de), Upper Austria) was an Austrian entomologist mainly interested in Diptera.

Czerny, who wrote extensively on Diptera between 1900 and 1939, describing many genera and species, was a major contributor to Erwin Lindner's Die Fliegen der paläarktischen Region ("The Flies of the Palaearctic Region"), the most significant work on the group in the 20th century.

Czerny wrote the sections on the following families:-

Heleomyzidae, Trichoscelidae, Chyromyidae (1927)

Anthomyzidae, Opomyzidae, Tethinidae, Clusiidae (1928)

Micropezidae (Tylidae), Neridrinae, Platypezidae (as Clythiidae), Dryomyzidae, Neottiophilidae (1930)

Lauxaniidae (Sapromyzidae) (1932)

Musidoridae (Lonchopteridae), Lonchaeidae (1934)

Chamaemyiidae (Ochthiphilidae) (1936)He was also abbot of the Benedictine Kremsmünster Abbey from 1905 to 1929 and collected there as well as in Pettenbach on the Upper Danube. As well as Diptera he collected Lepidoptera. His collections of both are now in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.


Lonchoptera is a genus of spear-winged flies (Lonchopteridae). Their common name refers to their subacute (pointed) wings, which have a distinct and sexually dimorphic venation.

Lonchoptera bifurcata

Lonchoptera bifurcata is a species of spear-winged or pointed-winged flies in the family Lonchopteridae. It has a Holarctic distribution and is present in Europe, Asia and North America.

Lonchoptera lutea

The yellow spear-winged fly or Lonchoptera lutea, is the type species of the genus Lonchoptera.

Adults vary a great deal in colour, from yellow to dark brown. The anteroventral bristle of the middle tibia is missing from the distal half. Scutellum brown to yellow. first and second antennal segments yellow, the third being dark, with a subapical arista.

Unlike most Lonchoptera, Lonchoptera lutea shows a marked preference for unshaded habitats. It is widespread and often very common throughout most of Europe, extending into parts of Asia.


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 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)






The Platypezoidea are a superfamily of true flies of the section Aschiza. Their closest living relatives are the Syrphoidea, which, for example, contain the hoverflies. Like these, the adults do not burst open their pupal cases with a ptilinum when hatching, thus the Aschiza do not have the inverted-U-shaped suture above the antennae. They are, however, muscomorphs, thus have a particular type of pupal case resembling a rounded barrel and called puparium.


Rhagionidae or snipe flies are a small family of flies.


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.


Superfamily Tabanoidea are insects in the order Diptera.


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 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.


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.

William Lundbeck

William Lundbeck (16 October 1863 in Aalborg – 18 May 1941 in Kongens Lyngby) was a Danish entomologist mainly interested in Diptera. He was a Professor in the University Museum in Copenhagen.

Lundbeck's most important work was Diptera Danica. Genera and species of flies Hitherto found in Denmark. Copenhagen & London, 1902-1927. 7 vols

The Parts of this work are

1907. Stratiomyidae, Xylophagidae, Coenomyiidae, Tabanidae, Leptididae, Acroceridae. Diptera Danica 1. Copenhagen.

1908. Asilidae, Bombyliidae, Therevidae, Scenopinidae. Diptera Danica 2. Copenhagen.

1910. Empididae. Diptera Danica 3. Copenhagen.

1912. Dolichopodidae. Diptera Danica 4. Copenhagen.

1916. Lonchopteridae, Syrphidae. Diptera Danica 5. Copenhagen.

1922. Pipunculidae, Phoridae. Diptera Danica 6. Copenhagen.

1927. Platypezidae, Tachinidae. Diptera Danica 7. Copenhagen.

Extant Diptera families


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