A Guide to the Insects of the Coal Oil Point Reserve

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Funded in part by the UCSB Pearl Chase Fund

Last updated 08/15/2005
  Insects of Coal Oil Point > Guide > Flies

Diptera - True Flies

Diptera is both a very abundant and diverse order. As their name suggests, flies are excellent fliers. Unlike most insects, they only have one set of membranous wings. Their hind wings have evolved over time into structures known as “halteres,” small knob-like structures responsible for balance.

Fly larvae are found in a wide range of habitats and have diverse food habits eating plant tissue, dead and living animal tissue, decaying organic matter, blood, other insects, etc. Adults feed mainly on liquids, often from sweet or decaying sources. Flies are also important pollinators 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 the beach hoppers, are responsible for the breakdown of the kelp that washes on the beach. The adult flies occurs in huge number in and around kelp wrack. These flies are an important food source to many shorebirds, 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 crude oil, feeding on insects that fall into the oil. We do not know much about the population of petroleum flies at Coal Oil Point, but we expect that the reserve provides good habitat for them, as crude oil is common 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.

Navigate by family

Tipulidae | Bibionidae | Sciaridae | Cecidomyiidae | Mycetophilidae | Psychodidae | Scatopsidae | Culicidae | Chironomidae | Therevidae | Asilidae | Bombyliidae | Empididae | Dolichopodidae | Phoridae | Syrphidae | Pipunculidae | Acalyptratae | Lonchaeidae | Tephritidae | Coelopidae | Piophilidae | Agromyzidae | Lauxaniidae | Heliomyzidae | Sphaerocidae | Curtonotidae | Ephydridae | Chloropidae | Anthomyiidae | Muscidae | Calliphoridae | Sarcophagidae | Tachinidae

* Additional information and pictures are available for the families in bold.

Fly Photos
(click to enlarge)

Tipulidae - Crane Flies

Bibionidae - March Flies

Dilophus sp.

Bibiodes sp. (female)

Bibiodes sp. (male)

Sciaridae - Dark-winged Fungus Gnats

Cecidomyiidae - Gall Gnats

Additional pictures and information about Cecidomyiidae

Mycetophilidae - Fungus Gnats

Psychodidae - Moth Flies

Scatopsidae - Minute Black Scavenger Flies

Culicidae - Mosquitoes

Culex sp.

Chironomidae - Midges

Therevidae - Stilleto Flies

Asilidae - Robber Flies

Bombyliidae - Bee Flies

Empididae - Dance Flies

Dolichopodidae - Long-legged Flies

Syntormon sp.

Phoridae - Humpbacked Flies

Syrphidae - Flower Flies

Additional pictures and information about Syrphidae

Pipunculidae - Big-headed Flies

Acalyptratae ?

Lonchaeidae - Lonchaeid Flies


Tephritidae - Fruit Flies

Coelopidae -Kelp Flies

Coelopa vanduzei

Piophilidae - Skipper Flies

Mycetaulus sp.

Agromyzidae - Leaf Miner Flies

  Additional pictures and information about Agromyzidae

Lauxaniidae - Lauxaniid Flies

Heleomyzidae - Heleomyzid Flies

Sphaerociidae - Small Dung Flies

Leptocera sp.

Curtonotidae - Curtonotid Flies

Axinota sp. (?)

Ephydridae - Shore flies

Petroleum fly
Helaeomyia petrolei

Petroleum fly (larva)
Helaeomyia petrolei

Atissa sp. (?)

Chloropidae - Grass Flies

  Additional pictures and information about Chloropidae

Anthomyiidae - Anthomyiid Flies

Muscidae - House Flies

Additional pictures and information about Muscidae

Calliphoridae - Blow Flies

Sarcophagidae - Flesh Flies

Tachinidae - Tachinid Flies

Additional pictures and information about Tachinidae


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