Last updated

Musca domestica housefly.jpg
Musca domestica
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
(unranked): Eremoneura
(unranked): Cyclorrhapha
Section: Schizophora
Subsection: Calyptratae
Superfamily: Muscoidea
Family: Muscidae
Latreille, 1802

Muscidae are a family of flies found in the superfamily Muscoidea.


Muscidae, some of which are commonly known as house flies or stable flies due to their synanthropy, are worldwide in distribution and contain almost 4,000 described species in over 100 genera.

Most species are not synanthropic. Adults can be predatory, hematophagous, saprophagous, or feed on a number of types of plant and animal exudates. They can be attracted to various substances including sugar, sweat, tears and blood. Larvae occur in various habitats including decaying vegetation, dry and wet soil, nests of insects and birds, fresh water, and carrion.

The housefly, Musca domestica, is the best known and most important species.

Some, from the genera Hydrotaea and Muscina , are involved in forensic case studies.

Identifying characteristics

The antennae are three-segmented and aristate; vein Rs is two-branched, a frontal suture is present, and the calypters are well developed. The arista is often plumose for the entire length. The hypopleuron is usually without bristles; generally, more than one sternopleural bristle is present. The R5 cell is either parallel-sided or narrowed distally. Vein 2A is short and does not reach the wing margin.

The Fanniidae, which used to be a subfamily (Fanniinae) of the Muscidae, share these characters, but may be separated from them by the absence of the identifying characteristics for the family Fanniidae.


Larvae mainly develop in decaying plant material or manure.

Health and economic importance

Adults of many species are passive vectors of pathogens for diseases such as typhoid fever, dysentery, anthrax, and African sleeping sickness.

Larvae of some Atherigona species are important pests in cultivation of cereals, like rice and maize.


Seven species in six described genera have been recorded from the fossil record. Lambrecht (1980: 369) estimated that the family Muscidae originated as long ago as the Permian, although no fossil record exists for the family any older than the Eocene.


List of genera according to the Catalogue of Life: [1]



Further reading

Related Research Articles

Sciomyzidae Family of flies

The family Sciomyzidae belongs to the typical flies (Brachycera) of the order Diptera. They are commonly called marsh flies, and in some cases snail-killing flies due to the food of their larvae.

Flesh fly Family of insects

Sarcophagidae are a family of flies commonly known as flesh flies. They differ from most flies in that they are ovoviviparous, opportunistically depositing hatched or hatching maggots instead of eggs on carrion, dung, decaying material, or open wounds of mammals, hence their common name. Some flesh fly larvae are internal parasites of other insects such as Orthoptera, and some, in particular the Miltogramminae, are kleptoparasites of solitary Hymenoptera. The adults mostly feed on fluids from animal bodies, nectar, sweet foods, fluids from animal waste and other organic substances. Juveniles need protein to develop and may be laid on carrion, dung or sweet plant foods.

Sepsidae Family of flies

The Sepsidae are a family of flies, commonly called the black scavenger flies or ensign flies. Over 300 species are described worldwide. They are usually found around dung or decaying plant and animal material. Many species resemble ants, having a "waist" and glossy black body. Many Sepsidae have a curious wing-waving habit made more apparent by dark patches at the wing end.

Phoridae Family of flies

The Phoridae are a family of small, hump-backed flies resembling fruit flies. Phorid flies can often be identified by their escape habit of running rapidly across a surface rather than taking to the wing. This behaviour is a source of one of their alternate names, scuttle fly. Another vernacular name, coffin fly, refers to Conicera tibialis. About 4,000 species are known in 230 genera. The most well-known species is cosmopolitan Megaselia scalaris. At 0.4 mm in length, the world's smallest fly is the phorid Euryplatea nanaknihali.

Tephritidae Family of fruit flies

The Tephritidae are one of two fly families referred to as fruit flies, the other family being the Drosophilidae. The family Tephritidae does not include the biological model organisms of the genus Drosophila, which is often called the "common fruit fly". Nearly 5,000 described species of tephritid fruit fly are categorized in almost 500 genera of the Tephritidae. Description, recategorization, and genetic analyses are constantly changing the taxonomy of this family. To distinguish them from the Drosophilidae, the Tephritidae are sometimes called peacock flies, in reference to their elaborate and colorful markings. The name comes from the Greek τεφρος, tephros, meaning "ash grey". They are found in all the biogeographic realms.

Anthomyiidae Family of flies

The Anthomyiidae are a large and diverse family of Muscoidea flies. Most look rather like small houseflies, but are commonly drab grey. The genus Anthomyia, in contrast, is generally conspicuously patterned in black-and-white or black-and-silvery-grey. Most are difficult to identify, apart from a few groups such as the kelp flies that are conspicuous on beaches.

Fanniidae Family of flies

The Fanniidae are a small group of true flies largely confined to the Holarctic and temperate Neotropical realms; there are 11 Afrotropical species, 29 Oriental, and 14 Australasian.

Lonchopteridae Family of flies

The Lonchopteridae 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.

Micropezidae Family of flies

The Micropezidae are a moderate-sized family of acalyptrate muscoid flies in the insect order Diptera, comprising about 500 species in about 50 genera and five subfamilies worldwide,. They are most diverse in tropical and subtropical habitats, especially in the Neotropical Region.

Stable fly Species of fly

Stomoxys calcitrans is commonly called the stable fly, barn fly, biting house fly, dog fly, or power mower fly. Unlike most members of the family Muscidae, Stomoxys calcitrans and others of its genus suck blood from mammals. Now found worldwide, the species is considered to be of Eurasian origin.

Lonchaeidae Family of flies

The Lonchaeidae are a family of acalyptrate flies commonly known as lance flies. About 500 described species are placed into 9 genera. These are generally small but robustly built flies with blue-black or metallic bodies. They are found, mainly in wooded areas, throughout the world with the exception of polar regions and New Zealand.

Chamaemyiidae Family of flies

The Chamaemyiidae are a small family of acalyptrate flies with less than 200 species described worldwide. The larvae of these small flies are active and predatory and are often used for biological control of aphids, scale insects, and similar pests. Chamaemyiid fossils are poorly represented in amber deposits, but a few examples are known from the Eocene epoch onwards.

Dryomyzidae Family of flies

The Dryomyzidae are a small family of flies ranging from 4–18 mm long, with prominent bristles, and yellow to brown or rust-yellow coloring. The wings are very large. The subcosta is complete and well separated from vein 1. Larvae feed on decaying organic matter - carrion, dung, and fungi. The prelambrum protrudes from the oral cavity. Vibrissae are absent and the postvertical bristles are divergent.

Anthomyzidae Family of flies

The Anthomyzidae are small, slender, yellow to black flies with narrow and elongated wings, which may have distinct markings. Some species have greatly reduced wings. Fewer than 100 species are known, mostly from Europe. Although they occur in all major regions, they seem to be most varied in the Holarctic region.

Coelopidae Family of flies

The Coelopidae or kelp flies are a family of Acalyptratae flies, they are sometimes also called seaweed flies, though both terms are used for a number of seashore Diptera. Fewer than 40 species occur worldwide. The family is found in temperate areas, with species occurring in the southern Afrotropical, Holarctic, and Australasian regions.

Pallopteridae Family of flies

Pallopteridae is a family of flies. The various species are collectively called flutter-wing flies, trembling-wing, or waving-wing flies, because of the striking vibration of the wings in many species. Over 70 species in about 15 genera are found in the temperate regions of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Platystomatidae Family of flies

The Platystomatidae are a distinctive family of flies (Diptera) in the superfamily Tephritoidea.

<i>Hydrotaea</i> Genus of flies

Hydrotaea is a genus of insects in the housefly family, Muscidae. They occur in most regions of the world but are more populous in warmer climates. They are often found on feces in summer months, and are therefore generally found in close proximity to livestock. Among the 130 known species in this genus, one of the most commonly recognized is the dump fly.

<i>Muscina</i> Genus of flies

Muscina is a genus of flies that belongs to the family Muscidae, currently consisting of 27 species. They are worldwide in distribution and are frequently found in livestock facilities and outside restrooms. The most common species are M. stabulans, M. levida, and M. prolapsa. Muscina flies commonly breed in manure and defecate on food, which has been linked to the spread of some disease and illnesses. The occurrence of Muscina larvae on dead bodies has led to their regular use in forensic investigations, as they may be used to estimate the time of death. Research have shown the prevalence of certain species of Muscina flies as vectors of diseases such as poliomyelitis.

<i>Synthesiomyia nudiseta</i> Species of fly

Synthesiomyia nudiseta is one of the largest flies in the family Muscidae. The fly has a pair of forewings; the paired hind wings have been reduced to halteres that help with stability and movement during flight. Key characteristics of this species include plumose segmented aristae, well-developed calypters, and sternopleural bristles. Synthesiomyia nudiseta is a forensically important species because it is necrophilous and can therefore help determine the time of colonization for the post mortem interval with its known life cycle.


  1. Bisby F.A., Roskov Y.R., Orrell T.M., Nicolson D., Paglinawan L.E., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., Ouvrard D. (red.) (2011). "Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2011 Annual Checklist". Species 2000: Reading, UK. Retrieved 24 September 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Pont, Adrian C.; Werner, Doreen (2006). "The Types of Fanniidae and Muscidae (Diptera) in the Museum für Naturkunde, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany". Mitteilungen aus dem Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin – Zoologische Reihe. 82: 3–139. doi:10.1002/mmnz.200600001.