Guide to insects
Dragon- & damselflies
Crickets & grasshoppers
Aphids & planthoppers
Butterflies & moths
Bees, ants, wasps
Last updated 08/15/2005
| Insects of Coal Oil Point > Guide > Flies|
Diptera - True Flies
Dipterais both a very abundant and diverse order. As their name suggests,flies are excellent fliers. Unlike most insects, they only have one setof membranous wings. Their hind wings have evolved over time intostructures known as “halteres,” small knob-like structures responsiblefor balance.
Fly larvae are found in a wide range of habitats and have diverse foodhabits eating plant tissue, dead and living animal tissue, decayingorganic matter, blood, other insects, etc. Adults feed mainly onliquids, often from sweet or decaying sources. Flies are also importantpollinators of native plants and crops.
The most common flies at the reserve are two species of kelp flies,Fucellia costalis and Coelopa vanduzeei. The larvae, together with thebeach hoppers, are responsible for the breakdown of the kelp thatwashes on the beach. The adult flies occurs in huge number in andaround kelp wrack. These flies are an important food source to manyshorebirds, including the threatened Western Snowy Plover.
The most curious of our flies is the petroleum fly, Helaeomyia petrolei.This fly spends its entire larval stage submerged in pools of crudeoil, feeding on insects that fall into the oil. We do not know muchabout the population of petroleum flies at Coal Oil Point, but weexpect that the reserve provides good habitat for them, as crude oil iscommon on the beach and around the dune pond.
Flies are responsible for a great deal of the diversity at Coal Oil Point, with over 120 species in the collection.
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*Additional information and pictures are available for the families in bold.
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