Possible Leptocera, photographed by Roger Thomason.

Belongs within: Schizophora.

The Sphaeroceridae are a family of small to minute flies often found on animal dung or other organic matter. They can usually be readily distinguished from other flies by the appearance of the first segment of the hind tarsus, which is distinctly swollen and/or shorter than the following segments (Colless & McAlpine 1991). This feature is less easily discerned in the Homalomitrinae, a Neotropical group of species that may be associated with army ants, in which all tarsal segments have become shortened. Members of the subfamily Sphaerocerinae have the bristles on the scutellum reduced or replaced by spines, teeth or warts, and have a prominent lower face. The subfamilies Copromyzinae and Limosininae are less clearly distinguished but Copromyzinae often have the ocellar bristles inserted in front of the anterior ocellus and two pairs of orbital bristles. Limosininae have the ocellar bristles inserted between the ocelli and/or one pair of or no orbital bristles. The Argentinian genus Tucma has a single pair of orbital bristles, four scutellar bristles with the laterobasal pair small and hairlike, and a virtually bare arista (Marshall & Buck 2010).

Sphaerocerids are of little direct economic importance to humans though their abundance and ubiquity worldwide suggests they may play a major role in decomposition. Pullimosina heteroneura is commonly found in food-processing plants, and this and other species may become a nuisance in mushroom culture (Marshall & Richards 1987).

See also: A little bit on lesser dung flies.

Characters (from Marshall & Buck 2010): Generally small acalyptrate flies (body length 0.7–6 mm, usually 1–3 mm). Body colour black to brown, rarely brightly patterned. Head with zero to (usually) one or two pairs of lateroclinate orbital bristles, interfrontal bristles usually distinct, vibrissae present but sometimes small, postocellar bristles (if present) convergent. Anepisternum bare or setulose, anepimeron usually bare (more rarely setulose), katepisternum with zero to three (usually one or two) dorsal bristles. Wing with two costal breaks, reduced subcosta, usually with cells bm and dm fused and an open cell cup. Wing occasionally patterned, reduced or lost. Mid tibia usually with sever (at least two) bristles. First, occasionally also second, hind tarsomere shortened and/or thickened.

<==Sphaeroceridae [Borboridae]
    |  i. s.: Carolinaptera M81
    |         Limomyza venia MB10
    |         Monteithiana CM74
    |         Bentrovata CM74
    |         Anatalanta RD77
    |--Tucma [Tucminae] MB10
    |--Homalomitrinae MB10
    |    |--Homalomitra antiqua MB10
    |    |--Sphaeromitra inepta MB10
    |    `--Podiomitra ostracotarsata MB10
    |--Borborinae K01
    |    |--Heteroptera acutangula K01
    |    `--Borborus K01
    |         |--B. equinus K01
    |         |--B. oeneus Macquart 1847 E12
    |         `--B. vitripennis K01
    |--Sphaerocerinae MB10
    |    |--Sphaerocera curvipes MR87
    |    |--Neosphaerocera MB10
    |    |--Mesosphaerocera annulicornis MB10
    |    |--Parasphaerocera MB10
    |    `--Ischiolepta MB10
    |         |--I. hyalophora MB10
    |         |--I. ischnocnemis MB10
    |         |--I. micropyga MR87
    |         |--I. pusilla MB10 [=Sphaerocera (Ischiolepta) pusilla M83]
    |         `--I. scabricula MB10
    |--Copromyzinae MB10
    |    |--Pycnopota MB10
    |    |--Lotophila atra MB10, MR87 [=Olinea atra MR87]
    |    |--Palaeoceroptera MB10
    |    |--Penola MB10
    |    |--Frutillaria MB10
    |    |--Antrops MB10
    |    |--Copromyza equina MB10
    |    |--Crumomyia [incl. Fungobia] MR87
    |    |    `--C. annulus MR87
    |    |--Archiborborus MB10
    |    |    |--A. hirtipes MB10
    |    |    `--A. orbitalis MB10
    |    |--Borborillus MR87
    |    |    |--B. arctica MR87
    |    |    `--B. marginatis [=Copromyza (Borborillus) marginatis] M83
    |    `--Norrbomia MB10
    |         |--N. gravis C07
    |         |--N. marginatis C07
    |         `--N. sordida MB10
    `--Limosininae MB10
         |--Archiceroptera MB10
         |--Archileptocera lutea MB10
         |--Bitheca MB10
         |--Phthitia antillensis MB10
         |--Poecilosomella angulata MB10
         |--Sclerocoelus caribensis MB10
         |--Telomerina MB10
         |    |--T. flavipes MB10
         |    `--T. minutissima [=Limosina minutissima] MR87
         |--Pseudocollinella MB10
         |--Rachispoda limosa [=Leptocera (Rachispoda) limosa] MB10
         |--Anomioptera quinquealba MB10
         |--Palaeolimosina MB10
         |--Palaeocoprina MB10
         |--Hellerella MB10
         |--Chespiritos sindecimus MB10
         |--Bromeloecia MB10
         |--Chaetopodella tonsa MB10
         |--Archicollinella MB10
         |--Elachisoma MB10
         |--Trachyopella MB10
         |--Gonioneura MB10
         |--Parasclerocoelus MB10
         |--Opalimosina MB10
         |    |--O. appendicula [=Limosina appendicula] MR87
         |    `--O. mirabilis MB10
         |--Aptilotella MB10
         |--Myrmolimosina MB10
         |--Rudolfina MB10
         |--Kimosina plumosula [=Limosina plumosula] MR87
         |--Halidayina spinipennis MR87
         |--Apteromyia MR87
         |--Nearcticorpus MR87
         |--Puncticorpus MR87
         |--Rudolfia MR87
         |--Ceroptera sivinskii MR87
         |--Xenolimosina MR87
         |--Terrilimosina schmitzi [=Limosina schmitzi] MR87
         |--Aptilotus MB10
         |    |--A. parvipennis MR87
         |    `--A. spatulatus MR87
         |--Druciatus MB10
         |    |--D. angustus MB10
         |    `--D. ovisternus MB10
         |--Pterogramma MB10
         |    |--P. aquatile MB10
         |    `--P. palliceps MB10
         |--Robustagramma MB10
         |    |--R. disjunctum MB10
         |    `--R. flavistylum MB10
         |--Coproica MB10
         |    |--C. ferruginata MB10
         |    `--C. hirtula [=Leptocera (Coproica) hirtula] M83
         |--Gyretria MB10
         |    |--G. biseta MB10
         |    `--G. melanogaster MB10
         |--Spinilimosina MB10
         |    |--S. brevicostata MB10
         |    `--S. rufifrons MB10
         |--Pullimosina MB10
         |    |--P. heteroneura [=Limosina heteroneura] MR87
         |    |--P. pullula MR87
         |    `--P. zayensis MB10
         |--Minilimosina MB10
         |    |  i. s.: M. fungicola [=Limosina fungicola] MR87
         |    |         M. zeda MR87
         |    |--M. (Allolimosina) rotundipennis MB10
         |    `--M. (Amputella) bistylus MB10
         |--Opacifrons MB10
         |    |--O. coxata [=Leptocera (Opacifrons) coxata] MR87
         |    |--O. humida WT11
         |    `--O. quarta MB10
         |--Lepidosina MB10
         |    |--L. angusticercus MB10
         |    |--L. evanescens MB10
         |    `--L. inaequalis MB10
         |--Thoracochaeta MB10
         |    |--T. brachystoma MB10
         |    |--T. johnsoni MR87
         |    |--T. seticosta MR87
         |    `--T. zosterae MR87 [=Leptocera (Thoracochaeta) zosterae T81]
         |--Spelobia MB10
         |    |--S. aciculata MB10
         |    |--S. (Bifronsina) bifrons MB10
         |    |--S. clunipes MR87
         |    |--S. (Spelobia) crassimana [=Limosina crassimana] MR87
         |    |--S. maculipennis MR87
         |    `--S. (Eulimosina) ochripes MR87
         |--Leptocera MB10
         |    |  i. s.: L. caenosa MB10
         |    |         L. fulva BW09
         |    |--L. (Leptocera) fontinalis MR87
         |    `--L. (Pteremis) MR87
         |         |--L. (P.) nivalis MR87
         |         `--L. (P.) wirthi MR87
         `--Limosina K01
              |--L. empirica [=Leptocera (Limosina) empirica] M83
              |--L. mediospinosa [=Leptocera (Limosina) mediospinosa]M83
              |--L. mirabilis [=Leptocera (Limosina) mirabilis] M83
              |--L. pullula [=Leptocera (Limosina) pullula] M83
              |--L. sacra R13
              `--L. thomasi [=Leptocera (Limosina) thomasi] M83

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BW09] Buck, M., N. E. Woodley, A. Borkent, D. M. Wood, T. Pape, J. R. Vockeroth, V. Michelsen & S. A. Marshall. 2009. Key to Diptera families—adults. In: Brown, B. V., A. Borkent, J. M. Cumming, D. M. Wood, N. E. Woodley & M. A. Zumbado (eds) Manual of Central American Diptera vol. 1 pp. 95–156. NRC Research Press: Ottawa.

[C07] Camerik, A. M. 2007. Ecological studies on phoretic females of dung-inhabiting Pediculaster (Acari: Heterostigmata, Pygmephoridae) species in South Africa: emigration patterns from cow and horse dung. In: Morales-Malacara, J. B., V. M. Behan-Pelletier, E. Ueckermann, T. M. Pérez, E. G. Estrada-Venegas & M. Badii (eds) Acarology XI: Proceedings of the International Congress pp. 649–655. Instituto de Biología and Faculdad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Sociedad Latinoamericana de Acarología: México.

[CM74] Colless, D. H., & D. K. McAlpine. 1974. Diptera (flies). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers. Supplement 1974 pp. 91–96. Melbourne University Press.

[E12] Evenhuis, N. L. 2012. Publication and dating of the Exploration Scientifique de l’Algérie: Histoire Naturelle des Animaux Articulés (1846–1849) by Pierre Hippolyte Lucas. Zootaxa 3448: 1–61.

[K01] Kertész, K. 1901. Legyek [Dipteren]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 179–201. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[M83] Martin, N. A. 1983. Miscellaneous observations on a pasture fauna: an annotated species list. DSIR Entomology Division Report 3: 1–98.

[MB10] Marshall, S. A., & M. Buck. 2010. Sphaeroceridae (small dung flies). In: Brown, B. V., A. Borkent, J. M. Cumming, D. M. Wood, N. E. Woodley & M. A. Zumbado (eds) Manual of Central American Diptera vol. 2 pp. 1165–1187. NRC Research Press: Ottawa.

[MR87] Marshall, S. A., & O. W. Richards. 1987. Sphaeroceridae. In: McAlpine, J. F. (ed.) Manual of Nearctic Diptera vol. 2 pp. 993–1006. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada.

[M81] McAlpine, J. F. 1981. Key to families—adults. In: McAlpine, J. F., B. V. Peterson, G. E. Shewell, H. J. Teskey, J. R. Vockeroth & D. S. Wood (eds) Manual of Nearctic Diptera vol. 1 pp. 89–124. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada.

[R13] Reuter, O. M. 1913. Lebensgewohnheiten und Instinkte der Insekten bis zum Erwachen der sozialen Instinkte. R. Friedländer & Sohn: Berlin.

[RD77] Richards, O. W., & R. G. Davies. 1977. Imms' General Textbook of Entomology 10th ed. vol. 2. Classification and Biology. Chapman and Hall: London.

[T81] Teskey, H. J. 1981. Key to families—larvae. In: McAlpine, J. F., B. V. Peterson, G. E. Shewell, H. J. Teskey, J. R. Vockeroth & D. S. Wood (eds) Manual of Nearctic Diptera vol. 1 pp. 125–147. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada.

[WT11] Wiegmann, B. M., M. D. Trautwein, I. S. Winkler, N. B. Barr, J.-W. Kim, C. Lambkin, M. A. Bertone, B. K. Cassel, K. M. Bayless, A. M. Heimberg, B. M. Wheeler, K. J. Peterson, T. Pape, B. J. Sinclair, J. H. Skevington, V. Blagoderov, J. Caravas, S. N. Kutty, U. Schmidt-Ott, G. E. Kampmeier, F. C. Thompson, D. A. Grimaldi, A. T. Beckenbach, G. W. Courtney, M. Friedrich, R. Meier & D. K. Yeates. 2011. Episodic radiations in the fly tree of life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 108 (14): 5690–5695.

Last updated: 2 July 2021.

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