Did You Know: Phorid Flies


May 14, 2015

The phorid fly is also known as the humpback fly and scuttle fly because it has to make a running start before takeoff. The family includes a species known as the coffin fly (Conicera tibialis) and the world’s smallest fly, Euryplatea nanaknihali.

⦁ Phorid flies are often confused with fruit flies (Drosophila) because of their size, but lack the latter’s distinctive red eyes. Phorid flies are characterized by a hump just behind their heads.

⦁ Phorids love moist, decaying garbage and organic materials found in drains, bathrooms, Dumpsters, compost heaps and human corpses.

⦁ Some phorid flies are useful. The Pseucacteon genus, for example, decapitates fire ants and is being tested as a biocontrol in the southeastern United States. (Editor’s Note: See Pest Trends for more on this phenomenon.)

⦁ Some phorid flies are harmful. In January 2012, for example, a group of researchers connected Apocephalus borealis, a phorid that attacks honeybees, to colony collapse disorder (CCD).

You can reach Kate and Jeff McGovern at jeffreymcgovern@mindspring.com.

Photo: Jeff McGovern

Note the fly larvae of future generations visible in the funk.
Jeff McGovern took both photos in a Florida conference center’s
prep kitchen: “The employees had simply put a plate over the
sink drain to keep them from coming up.”

Photo: Jeff McGovern

A close-up of a phorid fly, land the funk from which it came. Photo: Jeff McGovern

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