Male Protopiophila latipes, from Rochefort et al. (2015).

Belongs within: Tephritoidea.

The Piophilidae, skipper flies, are a cosmopolitan family of small flies whose larvae are mostly scavengers, and in at least some species are capable of jumping. The cheese skipper Piophila casei is a widespread storage pest in animal products such as meat, cheese and hides (Ozerov & Norrbom 2010). Members of the small subfamily Neottiophilinae have wing vein R1 setulose above whereas this vein is bare in the remaining species in the Piophilinae (McAlpine 1987).

Characters (from McAlpine 1987): Moderately small, 3–6 mm long, shining black to dull brownish yellow. Body usually with fairly strong black bristles, sometimes densely hairy. Frons frequently conspicuously yellowish, at least on anterior half. Wing frequently glassy, sometimes with brown markings. Head scarcely as wide as thorax, usually higher than long in side view. Compound eye nearly round, bare. Frons about as broad as long, similar in width in both sexes, wholly setulose; sides virtually parallel; anterior portion weakly sclerotised, usually yellowish; ocellar triangle and orbital plates heavily sclerotised and frequently contrasting in color with remainder of frons. Two or three orbital bristles present, usually outwardly directed; one pair of strong anterolaterally directed ocellar setae and several to many ocellar setulae present; inner and outer vertical bristles subequal; postocellar bristles divergent; vibrissae usually strong, rarely weak, sometimes duplicated, rarely beard-like in males. Lunule usually bare, rarely setulose. Face concave with rather deep antennal grooves. Clypeus rather small. Antenna short, porrect; first flagellomere usually oval, rarely twice as long as wide; arista bare or shortly pubescent, never plumose; pedicel usually about as long as wide, rarely greatly elongated, without a seam or lateral projections, usually with a conspicuous dorsal bristle; scape short, simple. Proboscis short, with membranous labella; palpus usually fairly small, rarely enlarged. Thorax with scutum densely hairy to almost bare, usually shining, rarely heavily pruinose; prescutellum absent; scutellum frequently flattened above, rarely lengthened or with a pair of tubercles. Prosternum free from propleuron. Zero to two postpronotal, zero or one presutural intra-alar, usually one postsutural intra-alar, zero to three presutural dorsocentral, one to three postsutural dorsocentral, and two notopleural bristles present; postsutural acrostichal bristles present or absent; four bristles on scutellum with or without additional hairs; anepisternum and anepimeron usually bare, sometimes setulose; katepisternum with one to several bristles and numerous setulae; proepisternal bristle present; proepimeral bristle absent; prosternum usually bare, rarely haired. Wing moderately broad, with well-developed anal lobe and alula; membrane usually glassy hyaline, rarely patterned. C with subcostal break and attenuated but not broken at position of humeral break; costal spines rarely present. R1 rarely setulose; all veins otherwise bare; Sc complete and free from R. Cells bm and dm separated by crossvein bm-cu; cell cup complete. A1 traceable to wing margin or abruptly discontinued before reaching wing margin. Legs rather stocky. Femora and tibiae simple; tibiae without preapical dorsal bristles but frequently with other rather strong bristles, especially ventrally and laterally near apex. Tarsi often strongly setulose, with unusually strong tarsal claws. Abdomen sparsely and shortly setulose to densely long haired, shiny black to dull brownish yellow, unpatterned. Male lacking sixth and seventh spiracles. Terminalia asymmetric; tergite 6 usually absent, but sometimes with fragments remaining at sides; left posterolateral margin of sternite 6 fused with sternite 7; sternite 7 likewise mostly fused with syntergosternite 8. Surstylus usually free and moveable, sometimes absent, sometimes fused with epandrium. Cerci usually in form of simple membranous lobes. Hypandrium with gonopod and paramere usually well developed, sometimes reduced or absent; aedeagus usually long and flexible, frequently coiled, often pubescent, sometimes much reduced, and with or without well-differentiated distal glans; aedeagal apodeme usually fused with hypandrium. Female with a rather weakly sclerotized telescopic piercing ovipositor. Sixth and seventh spiracles present in membrane between corresponding tergites and sternites. Tergite 7 and sternite 7 free from each other; each with two strap-like rods arising from posterior margins to form flexible longitudinal struts. Tergite 8 and sternite 8 each in form of two similar elongate straps in membrane. Epiproct, hypoproct, and fused cerci forming tip of ovipositor. Two spermathecae present, usually elongate, sclerotised. Larva maggot-like, peg-shaped, tapering to anterior end, white with blackish mouthparts and spiracular plates, and mostly smooth with spiculose intersegmental rings and creeping welts. Cephalopharyngeal skeleton of usual muscoid type; mandible without secondary teeth; discrete dental sclerite lacking; parastomal bar slender; hypopharyngeal sclerite and labial sclerites well-developed; tentoropharyngeal sclerite with more or less equally large dorsal and ventral wings. Anterior spiracle with four to twelve digits arranged fan-wise. Terminal segment with three or four pairs of tubercles surrounding spiracular plates. Posterior spiracles not on raised tubercles; each with three elongate more or less parallel slits.

<==Piophilidae ON10
    |  i. s.: Bocainomyia necrophila ON10
    |         Centrophlebomyia furcata ON10
    |         Protothyreophora grunini ON10
    |--Neottiophilinae [Neottiophilidae] ON10
    |    |--Neottiophilum praeustum ON10
    |    `--Actenoptera hilarella M87
    `--Piophilinae ON10
         |  i. s.: Lasiopiophila pilosa M87, ON10
         |         Stearibia nigriceps M87, ON10
         |         Liopiophila varipes M87
         |         Prochyliza M87
         |           |--P. azteca ON10
         |           |--P. inca ON10
         |           |--P. nigrimana ON10
         |           `--P. xanthostoma ON10
         |         Neopiophila setaluna M87
         |         Allopiophila luteata M87
         |         Arctopiophila M87
         |           |--A. arctica M87
         |           `--A. nigerrima M87
         |         Boreopiophila tomentosa M87
         |         Parapiophila M87
         |--Thyreophorini [Thyreophoridae] ON10
         |    |--Thyreophora cynophila GE05 [=Sphaerocera (Thyreophora) cynophila G20]
         |    `--Piophilosoma [incl. Chaetopiophila] CM91
         |         |--P. antipodum CM91
         |         |--P. palpatum M87
         |         `--P. scutellata CM70
         |--Mycetaulini ON10
         |    |--Pseudoceps M87
         |    |--Amphipogon hyperboreus M87
         |    `--Mycetaulus M87
         |         |--M. bipunctatus M87
         |         `--M. longipennis M87
         `--Piophilini ON10
              |--Piophila ON10
              |    |--P. australis CM91
              |    |--P. casei ON10
              |    `--P. contecta O98
              `--Protopiophila ON10
                   |--P. atrichosa ON10
                   |--P. australis CM70
                   |--P. latipes ON10
                   |--P. litigata ON10
                   |--P. nigriventris ON10
                   `--P. pallida ON10

*Type species of generic name indicated


[CM70] Colless, D. H., & D. K. McAlpine. 1970. Diptera (flies). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers pp. 656–740. Melbourne University Press.

[CM91] Colless, D. H., & D. K. McAlpine. 1991. Diptera (flies). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 2 pp. 717–786. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[G20] Goldfuss, G. A. 1820. Handbuch der Naturgeschichte vol. 3. Handbuch der Zoologie pt 1. Johann Leonhard Schrag: N├╝rnberg.

[GE05] Grimaldi, D., & M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of the Insects. Cambridge University Press: New York.

[M87] McAlpine, J. F. 1987. Piophilidae. In: McAlpine, J. F. (ed.) Manual of Nearctic Diptera vol. 2 pp. 845–852. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada.

[O98] Oosterbroek, P. 1998. The Families of Diptera of the Malay Archipelago. Brill: Leiden.

[ON10] Ozerov, A. L., & A. L. Norrbom. 2010. Piophilidae (skipper 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. 865–869. NRC Research Press: Ottawa.

Last updated 2 July 2021.

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