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Book Chapter

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Published Version

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Freshwater Life: A field guide to the plants and animals of southern Africa

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Diptera, the true flies, are among the most diverse and ecologically important insects. Adults are easily recognised by their single pair of wings (the forewings) and club-shaped halteres (derived from the hindwings). Two major subgroups occur: the lower Diptera and the more robust higher Diptera. The lower Diptera (below), traditionally treated as the suborder Nematocera, form an assemblage of primitive groups of generally delicate (‘mosquito-like’) flies with multisegmented, often long, adult antennae. Larval lower Diptera have a complete head capsule and horizontally working mandibles. Higher Diptera, suborder Brachycera (meaning ‘short-horned’) (p.220), are generally more robust flies with relatively short antennae, and their larvae have reduced head capsules and mouthparts that usually work vertically (like a snake’s fangs), rather than horizontally. All measurements given are body lengths.


This chapter is published as Marshall, S.A. & G.W. Courtney. 2015. Flies – Order Diptera. pp. 210-227 in C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker (editors). Freshwater Life: A field guide to the plants and animals of southern Africa. Penguin Random House / Struik (Field Guide Series), Cape Town, South Africa. Posted with permission.

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The Authors and Penguin Random House South Africa



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