The minute black scavenger flies or "dung midges", are a family, Scatopsidae, of nematoceran flies. Despite being distributed throughout the world, they form a small family with only around 250 described species in 27 genera, although many await description and doubtless even more await discovery. These are generally small, sometimes minute, dark flies (from 0.6 to 5 mm), generally similar to black flies (Simuliidae), but usually lacking the humped thorax characteristic of that family.

The larvae of most species are unknown, but the few that have been studied have a rather flattened shape and are terrestrial and saprophagous.

Scatopsids are a well established group and fossils are known from amber deposits dating back to the Cretaceous period.

Scatopse notata (Linnaeus, 1758) is a cosmopolitan species. Its larval stages are found in decaying plant and animal material.

Flies on Leucanthemum vulgare
Minute black scavenger flies on oxeye daisy.
Scientific classification
  • Aspistinae
  • Ectaetiinae
  • Psectrosciarinae
  • Scatopsinae
Scatopsidae on Impatiens


  • Anapausis Enderlein, 1912
  • Apiloscatopse Cook, 1874
  • Arthria Kirby, 1837
  • Aspistes Meigen, 1818
  • Austroclemina
  • Borneoscatopse
  • Brahemyia Amorim, 2007
  • Coboldia Melander, 1916 (sometimes erroneously as Colboldia)
  • Colobostema Enderlein, 1926
  • Cooka Amorin, 2007
  • Diamphidicus Cook, 1971
  • Efcookella
  • Ectaetia Enderlein, 1912
  • Ferneiella Cook, 1974
  • Hawomersleya Cook, 1971
  • Holoplagia Enderlein, 1912
  • Mesoscatopse
  • Neorhegmoclemina
  • Parascatopse Cook, 1955
  • Parmaferia Cook, 1977
  • Procolobostema
  • Protoscatopse
  • Psectrosciara Kieffer, 1911
  • Quateiella Cook, 1975
  • Reichertella Enderlein, 1912
  • Rhegmoclema Enderlein, 1912
  • Rhegmoclemina Enderlein, 1936
  • Rhexoza Enderlein, 1936
  • Scatopse Geoffroy, 1762 (sometimes erroneously as Scatops or Scathops)
  • Swammerdamella Enderlein, 1912
  • Thripomorpha Enderlein, 1905


The family name Scatopsidae literally translates to "looks like feces" (from Greek skat "dung" and opsi "appearance"), but this seems to be a misinterpretation. It is derived from the genus Scatopse, which was misspelled as Scatops.

See also


Further reading

Species descriptions

Fossil record

  • de Souza Amorim, D. (1998). Amber Fossil Scatopsidae (Diptera: Psychodomorpha). I. Considerations on Described Taxa, Procolobostema roseni, new species, from Dominican Amber, and the Position of Procolobostema in the Family. American Museum Novitates 3227; 1-17. PDF fulltext

External links

Apiloscatopse bifilata

Apiloscatopse bifilata is a species of fly in the family Scatopsidae. It is found in the Palearctic.

Described from specimens in Haliday's collection. The type locality is likely Ireland.

Apiloscatopse scutellata

Apiloscatopse scutellata is a species of fly in the family Scatopsidae. It is found in the Palearctic .


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 Canthyloscelidae are a small family of midges closely related to the Scatopsidae.

Adults are small to medium-sized (2.5-9.0 mm) flies, relatively stout, usually dark coloured Nematocera with stout legs. They are associated with ancient woodland. Larvae are xylosaprophagous and live in the moist, rotting wood of stumps and fallen trees.Most are considered endangered due to the vulnerability of their habitat.

There are 15 described species worldwide from New Zealand, North America, South America, Japan and Russia. The 3 species in Europe are suspected to be introductions. There is one know fossil species from the Jurassic.


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.

Christii fly

The Christii fly (Ectaetia christii) is a species of fly named after the late Iain Christie, a farmer and amateur entomologist from Dunbartonshire. It measures 2 mm (​1⁄12 in) long and is black in colour. Christii flies live under the bark of smaller branches or twigs of dead aspen trees.

Coboldia fuscipes

Coboldia fuscipes is a species of fly in the family Scatopsidae. It is found in the Palearctic .


Colobostema is a genus of minute black scavenger flies in the family Scatopsidae. There are at least 4 described species in Colobostema.

Colobostema varicorne

Colobostema varicorne is a species of "minute black scavenger fly" or "dung midge" in the family Scatopsidae.


Ectaetia is a genus of minute black scavenger fly in the family Scatopsidae. Examples can be found in the Nearctic, Palearctic, Oriental, and Neotropical biogeographic realms. Adults of Ectaetia species are generally shiny, black, and large.

List of Australian Scatopsidae

This is a list of Scatopsidae taxa that occur in the Australian region.


Midge is a term used to refer to many species of small flies. The term "midge" does not define any particular taxonomic group, but includes species in several families of non-mosquito Nematoceran Diptera. They are found (seasonally or otherwise) on practically every land area outside permanently arid deserts and the frigid zones. Some midges, such as many Phlebotominae (sand fly) and Simuliidae (black fly), are vectors of various diseases. Many others play useful roles as prey items for insectivores, such as various frogs and swallows. Others are important as detritivores, participating in various nutrient cycles. The habits of midges vary greatly from species to species, though within any particular family, midges commonly have similar ecological roles.

Examples of families that include species of midges include:

Blephariceridae, net-winged midges

Cecidomyiidae, gall midges

Ceratopogonidae, biting midges (also known as no-see-ums or punkies in North America, and sandflies in Australia)

Chaoboridae, phantom midges

Chironomidae, non-biting midges (also known as muckleheads or muffleheads in the Great Lakes region of North America)

Deuterophlebiidae, mountain midges

Dixidae, meniscus midges

Scatopsidae, dung midges

Theumaleidae, solitary midges


The Nematocera (the name means "thread-horns") are a suborder of elongated flies with thin, segmented antennae and mostly aquatic larvae. Major families in the suborder include the mosquitoes, crane flies, gnats, black flies, and a group of families described as midges.

The Nematocera typically have fairly long, fine, finely-jointed antennae. In this they differ from the most familiar flies, the suborder Brachycera (the name means "short-horns"), which includes the house flies, blow flies and many similar flies; Brachycera generally have short, stubby antennae. In many species, such as most mosquitoes, the female antennae are more or less threadlike, but the males have spectacularly plumose antennae.

The larvae of most families of Nematocera are aquatic, either free-swimming, rock-dwelling, plant-dwelling, or luticolous. Some families however, are not aquatic; for instance the Tipulidae tend to be soil-dwelling and the Mycetophilidae feed on fungi such as mushrooms. Unlike most of the Brachycera, the larvae of Nematocera have distinct heads with mouthparts that may be modified for filter feeding or chewing, depending on their lifestyles.

The pupae are orthorrhaphous which means that adults emerge from the pupa through a straight, longitudinal seam in the dorsal surface of the pupal cuticle.

The bodies and legs of most adult Nematocera are elongated, and many species have relatively long abdomens.

Males of many species form mating swarms like faint pillars of smoke, competing for females that visit the cloud of males to find a mate.


The nematoceran infraorder Psychodomorpha (sometimes misspelled Psychomorpha - which is also the name of a genus of noctuid moths) includes two common families, Psychodidae and Scatopsidae, and other very small, rare families. In some classifications (e.g. the Tree of Life Web Project), the group is paraphyletic.

Scatopse notata

Scatopse notata is a species of fly in the family Scatopsidae. It is found in the Palearctic .


The superfamily Scatopsoidea includes families: Canthyloscelidae, Perissommatidae and Scatopsidae.


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.


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.

Extant Diptera families


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