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Flies, Pacific Northwest

Greenback Fly, Flies
Greenback Fly, Photo By Bud Logan

All insects play an important part of our ecosystems, even Flies As part of food chains, insects provide sustenance for countless other animals. For instance, just one crow can eat as many as 16 bushels of insects in one year. So all insects are beneficial and necessary. It’s just that with some insects, it’s harder to remember that they are a necessary part of the world around us.

The Pacific Northwest has many, many flies and although we do not like them, at least the biting ones. They do serve a purpose.

Other flying insects have long been considered flies, like dragonflies, mayflies, fireflies, butterflies. But these all belong to other orders of insects. True flies are insects of the Order Diptera, which are often referred to as the true flies. They are always listed as 2 words separated like house fly or crane fly while others are listed as 1 word like dragonfly or damselfly.

Robber Fly, Flies
Robber Fly, Photo By Bud Logan

The compound eyes are usually large, often occupying most of the head. Mouth parts are modified and combined into a sucking proboscis, which is highly variable in structure.  Some mydas flies have mouth parts that don’t function. No true flies bite in the true sense, but puncture the skin of their victims and suck blood.

The order diptera is usually divided into two suborders, the nematocera, a suborder of elongated flies with thin, segmented antennae and mostly aquatic larvae, consisting of the mosquitoes, crane flies, gnats and the brachycera, a suborder of short horned flies represents a major division of the Diptera containing approximately 120 families and a great diversity of species, morphological innovations, and life history strategies. The name brachycera or shortened horn, refers to their shortened antennae, a reduced antenna with fewer than 8 antennal.

Green Bottle Fly, Flies
Green Bottle Fly, Photo By Bud Logan

About 150,000 species of living diptera have been described in approximately 10,000 genera and 150 families. The true number of species is probably many times more than this. Many species of them are cool or cold adapted and the relative abundance of diptera in the total insect fauna is higher in northern countries such as Canada than in the world as a whole. In high arctic sites, the number of species is greater than that of all other insects combined.

The astounding success is owed to their great versatility in the exploitation of habitats and their ability to utilize every possible sort of food. They are ubiquitous and are abundant in individuals as well as in species number. They are an important food source for other animals.

Many are parasitic on other insects and help keep their populations under control. Some herbivorous species have been successfully used to control weeds. Many are important pollinators of plants. Many are invaluable as scavengers and are vital in aiding the decomposition of plant and animal material.

They are the insects most known to infect humans and domesticated animals with deadly diseases. Blood sucking flies transmit many diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, and sleeping sickness.

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