Introduction to the World Therevidae

Stiletto-flies (family Therevidae) are found in a variety of habitats ranging from rainforest to desert, but are generally most diverse in arid regions where the sandy, friable soils provide a suitable habitat for their fossorial (soil dwelling) larvae. Adults are nectar feeders, while the larvae are voracious predators of soil arthropods. Larvae are characterised by a secondarily segmented abdomen and an apically spatulate tentorial rod (Irwin & Lyneborg 1981). Larvae can be found in almost all types of terrestrial habitats but are especially diverse where sandy soils are dominant (e.g. dry forests, coastal dunes and deserts).

Therevidae is represented by four currently recognised subfamilies: Phycinae, Xestomyzinae, Therevinae and Agapophytinae. A fifth, informal grouping closely related to the agapophytines, the Taenogera genus-group, are very diverse in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with representatives also in New Caledonia and the Neotropics (Winterton et al. 1999b, Metz et al. 2003).

To browse the nearly 800 known references to Therevidae in the scientific literature, please visit the Bibliography Page (button in toolbar not yet active).

Lucid key to World Therevidae: An identification aid to the genera.

Lucid is an interactive key utilising multi-media such as drawings and photographs to identify specimens of Therevids of the World. This key will contain not only a means to identify adults of all genera and species of therevids of the world, but the 'Worldtherevid' website will also contains a wealth of supplemental information about each genus including: fact sheets, image galleries, bibliography, checklist of valid species names, glossary of adult morphology, as well as information on therevid systematics, biology, ecology and collecting methods. For each species, information will be generated on-demand and on-the-fly from the extensive Therevid MANDALA database system, including images of each species, photographs of primary types, PDF's of the original descriptions and other relevant literature, taxonomic information (e.g., synonymies), specimen lists, distributions (including a GoogleEarth portal), phenology, and extensive biological information.

Stage 1: Lucid key to Australasian Therevidae

The first iteration of the World Therevidae key is a key to Australasian genera. This key is now completed and available online. Select link below to go to this website, and see the bottom of the page for system requirements for running Lucid3. AUSTRALASIAN THEREVIDAE WEBSITE. Lucid is an interactive key utilising multi-media such as drawings and photographs to identify specimens of therevids from Australasia. This key contains not only a means to identify adults of the 24 described and 5 undescribed genera of therevids in Australasia, but the 'Austherevid' website also contains a wealth of supplemental information including: fact sheets, image galleries, bibliography, checklist of valid species names, glossary of adult morphology, as well as information on Australasian therevid systematics, biology, ecology and collecting methods.

How do I know if I have a Stiletto-fly?

This Lucid key is designed to be used for identifying adult Stiletto-flies. It is important to first determine if you indeed have a therevid before proceeding to make an identification. There are several characteristics used by taxonomists to identify a therevid from other families of Diptera. If you have any doubts whether you have a therevid, answer the questions listed on the "Do you have a therevid" page (currently active only for the Australasian site).


What is Lucid3?

Lucid3 is an interactive key that can be run in an internet browser on any platform (Mac, PC, etc.). Lucid is produced by the Centre for Biological Information Transfer (CBIT) at the University of Queensland, Australia. Visit the Lucidcentral website for more information on Lucid3.

Copyright and content use

All images and content in this key are protected by copyright. Click the copyright symbol at the bottom of the page for further information.

About the authors

Drs Shaun Winterton, Steve Gaimari, Martin Hauser and Kevin Holston have traveled extensively throughout the world collecting and studying flies with an emphasis on Therevidae. This work is a distillation of their research to date on Stiletto-flies into an easy to use online interactive identification aid for anyone wishing to identify therevids in their possession, with plans to provide information about all species of the family, distilled from Therevid MANDALA - a series of relational databases under FileMaker Pro. All four authors have published extensively on Therevidae and other Diptera, and even other insect Orders.

Dr Shaun L. Winterton: Shaun is a Senior Insect Biosystematist with the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of Food & Agriculture. His Postgraduate Diploma and Doctoral theses were on Australasian Therevidae systematics and evolution, undertaken at the University of Queensland as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnerships Enhancing Expertise in Taxonomy (PEET) grants entitled "Monograph of the Stiletto Flies of the World" (NSF DEB-95-21925, and renewal DEB-99-77958) awarded to Mike Irwin. He followed up his doctoral degree as a Postdoctoral Scientist at North Carolina State University, studying phylogenetics of Acroceridae (Diptera), and studying phylogenetics of Neuroptera under his own NSF grant (DEB-02-36861). After joining CDFA in 2003, Shaun took a position at the Queensland Department of Primary Industries in Brisbane, Australia in 2007. After three years, Shaun rejoined his colleagues at CDFA. Shaun's publications include descriptions of a new subfamily, seven new genera and 69 new species. He is currently revising the Agapophytinae genera in the species-rich Parapsilocephala clade, among other projects on Diptera and Neuroptera.

Dr Stephen D. Gaimari: Steve is the Program Supervisor for the Entomology Laboratory of the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of Food & Agriculture. His undergraduate degree in Biology was from Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, with directed research projects on mosquito larval ecology. His MS degree in Entomology was from Washington State University, Pullman, with a thesis on the morphology and natural history of Leucopis species (Diptera: Chamaemyiidae) attacking Russian wheat aphid. His doctoral degree was from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a dissertation dealing with the systematics and biogeography of a new tribe (Cyclotelini) of therevine Therevidae. This latter project was part of the first NSF-PEET grant awarded to Mike Irwin (as above). After his PhD, Steve was a Visiting faculty member at the University of Illinois, teaching a core-course in Evolution and Classification of Insects. After leaving Illinois, Steve held a Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellowship, and then became a Smithsonian Research Entomologist funded by his own NSF grant (DEB-00-75206) to study systematics of Lauxanioidea. He is currently revising the species-rich New World genus Ozodiceromyia, among many other projects on Diptera.

Dr. Martin Hauser: Martin is a Senior Insect Biosystematist with the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of Food & Agriculture. Martin joined CDFA after a stint as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, University of South Carolina. Prior to this, Martin was a Postdoctoral Scientist with the Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch, California Department of Food & Agriculture, jointly administered with the University of California, Davis. Martin received a Diploma (equivalent to an MS degree) from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, before going to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received his MS and doctoral degrees under the NSF-PEET grants awarded to Mike Irwin (as above). His project dealt with the basal relationships of Therevidae, using a variety of data sources, from morphology, molecular sequence data, fossils and biogeography. Martin is active in research on Therevidae, Stratiomyidae, Syrphidae and other Diptera.

Dr Kevin C. Holston: Kevin is currently a Research Assistant with the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, working on systematics of therevine Therevidae and other Asiloidea. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin, Kevin went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received his MS and doctoral degrees under the NSF-PEET grants awarded to Mike Irwin (as above). After receiving his degree, Kevin went to the Swedish Museum of Natural History under his own NSF International Research Fellowship (OISE-03-01853) to study European Thereva.

System requirements for running Lucid3 interactive key:

Software: Lucid3 Applet player (More information), requires Java Runtime Environment (Download)
Operating System: Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003, MacOSX, Linux, Solaris
System Memory: 32MB RAM (64MB or greater recommended)
Web browser: Java enabled web browser such as Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox.

Unlike previous versions of Lucid, you do not require the dowload of Lucid player software to run the key. This version will run embedded within a web-browser running an updated version of Java. Click the links above to start using the key in Lucid3 and for various aspects of therevid biology, classification, systematics, etc.

[Note for Mac users: As Microsoft no longer supports Internet Explorer (IE) for Mac, open the key in Safari or Firefox for excellent results. PC user's running IE should not experience any problems opening the key.]