Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Entomology

pp 3675-3686

Tachinid Flies (Diptera: Tachinidae)

  • James E. O’HaraAffiliated withAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada

There are well over 100 families in the order Diptera, or true flies, and most of them are comprised entirely of species with free-living larvae. There are, however, about 20 families with at least some species classed as parasitoids, species that live within other animals as larvae and kill their hosts before progressing on to the adult stage. It is estimated that this type of parasitic life style evolved over 100 times in the Diptera and multiple times within certain families. About 16,000 of the approximately 120,000 described species of Diptera are parasitoids, and about 10,000 of them belong to a single family, the Tachinidae. All tachinid flies are parasitoids in their larval stage and their hosts all belong to the Arthropoda, almost exclusively the Insecta. The true diversity of the Tachinidae is likely many thousands of species higher than the 10,000 currently described, making this family a good candidate for the most speciose family of Diptera and without question the most su ...

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