Manual of Afrotropical Diptera
The Diptera ('true flies' or 'two-winged flies') constitute one of the largest orders of insects, with more than 160,000 species known worldwide and at least as many more still awaiting discovery.
They are as diverse morphologically and biologically as they are numerous, and many groups have evolved spectacular structural adaptations commensurate with their environment and biology.
During their long evolutionary history, virtually every terrestrial niche has been occupied by flies, making them one of the most successful and abundant groups of organisms.
Flies occur on all continents, including Antarctica, and many have co-evolved in association with other organisms to become highly specialised parasites or parasitoids of a wide range of plants and animals.
The applied significance of flies
Flies play a significant role in human health and agriculture:
- Numerous species (for example, mosquitos, tsetse and biting midges) are vectors of deadly insect-borne diseases of humans and their livestock, including malaria, trypanosomiasis (and its animal equivalent, nagana), leishmaniasis, African horse sickness and many others.
- A small minority of fly species (for example, fruit flies, gall midges, leaf-miners and shoot flies) are serious agricultural pests that can significantly affect crop yields or damage produce.
- The role of flies in pollination has received increasing attention in recent years, with studies indicating that flies may be far more significant in pollination biology than previously considered.
- Many parasitoid species (especially the family Tachinidae) are valuable agents for the cost-effective biological control of a variety of pests.
- Flies (especially blow flies) are used routinely in forensic investigations.
- Flies are the most significant insect group regarding the degeneration and decomposition of animal and other organic matter and breakdown and release nutrients back into the soil.
About the Manual of Afrotropical Diptera project
The Manual of Afrotropical Diptera provides an up-to-date, well-illustrated, interpretable means for identifying families and genera of two-winged flies of the continental Afrotropical Region, its associated oceanic islands and the southernmost Arabian Peninsula. The manual is also designed to be a basic reference work to a wide spectrum of biosystematic information on Diptera for professional biologists, teachers, university students and informed amateurs.
The main aim of the manual is to foster a better understanding of the science of dipterology, especially in Africa, and encourage the study of Diptera by new generations of dipterists.
Of the 108 families known in the Afrotropics, four families are endemic to the region (in the extant fauna): Glossinidae, Marginidae, Mormotomyiidae and Natalimyzidae, although Glossinidae and Natalimyzidae are known in the fossil record from North America and Europe, respectively. Mormotomyiidae and Natalimyzidae are currently monotypic, but numerous undescribed species of Natalimyzidae are known from the Afrotropics. The occurrence of the family Trichoceridae in the Afrotropics is questionable, but the family is included in both the Key to Diptera families - adults (Chapter 12) and Key to Diptera families - larvae (Chapter 13).
Volumes 1 and 2 were published in 2017 and volumes 3 and 4 are due for publication in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
©2009–2020 Manual of Afrotropical Diptera, editors, authors
©2009–2020 Stephen A. Marshall (photographs on this page)