Site Index

Iowa State University

  Entomology Department > Research> Systematics> Blephariceridae

Blephariceridae: Classification and Distribution

By Gregory W. Courtney

Several investigations (e.g., Wood and Borkent 1989, Courtney 1991, Oosterbroek and Courtney 1995) have provided compelling evidence for monophyly of the superfamily Blephariceroidea (Deuterophlebiidae + Blephariceridae). Synapomorphies that help define this clade include features of the larva, pupa, and adult (details in Courtney 1991, Oosterbroek and Courtney 1995). Monophyly of the Blephariceridae is also well established and based largely on features of the larva and pupa.

Blephariceridae Phylogeny

The Blephariceridae are currently known from 27 genera and approximately 300 described species, with representatives on most major continents (except Antarctica) and several continental islands (e.g., Madagascar, New Zealand, Sri Lanka). In spite of this wide distribution, regional endemism is high. The subfamily Edwardsininae is restricted to the southern hemisphere -- Australasian Region, southern South America, and Madagascar -- whereas the subfamily Blepharicerinae occurs in both hemispheres. Relationships within the Blepharicerinae remain problematic, especially regarding the widespread Palaearctic / Oriental / Australasian Apistomyiini and their relationship to Neotropical "Paltostomatines." These groups and the Holarctic (North American and Eurasian) Blepharicerini have at various times been ranked as three separate subfamilies (Alexander 1963, Hennig 1973) or as two tribes (Zwick 1977, 1981). Detailed phylogenetic analyses are necessary to resolve the relationships among and within these major subgroups. Relationships within the Apistomyiini sensu stricto are relatively better known than for the Blepharicerini, due largely to the work of Zwick (1977). Deciphering the relationships among Blepharicerine genera remains problematic and contingent upon understanding Eurasian species and their North American congeners. Furthermore, generic boundaries remain especially tentative for some groups (e.g., Agathon). In spite of these difficulties, the world fauna can be classified as follows (known diversity of species in parentheses, primary distributions on right):

Family Blephariceridae

Subfamily Edwardininae

Edwardsina (30) southern South America and southeastern Australia

Paulianina (8) Madagascar

Subfamily Blepharicerinae

Tribe Apistomyiini

Neocurupira (5) New Zealand

Peritheates (2) New Zealand

Nothohoraia (1) New Zealand

Nesocurupira (1) New Caledonia

Curupirina (3) New Caledonia

Austrocurupira (1) southeastern Australia

Theischingeria (1) northeastern Australia

Parapistomyia (4) southeastern Australia and New Guinea

Apistomyia (16) Australia to southeast Asia, Mediterranean, and Japan

Hammatorhina (2) Sri Lanka

Horaia (3) southern and southeast Asia


Aposonalco (1) Mexico

Elporia (19) southern Africa

Paltostoma (21) Mexico, Caribbean, and South America (Andes)

Limonicola (8) northwestern South America

Kelloggina (34) southeastern Brazil and northeastern Argentina

Tribe Blepharicerini

Hapalothrix (1) Europe

Neohapalothrix (3) eastern Asia

Tianschanella (1) central Asia

Agathon (16) central & eastern Asia, western North America

Asioreas (5) central Asia

Bibiocephala (4) Japan and western North America

Philorus (22) central & eastern Asia, western North America

Blepharicera (44) widespread Eurasia and North America

Dioptopsis (3) Europe

Liponeura (45) Europe


Alexander, C. P. 1963. Family Blepharoceridae. in Guide to the insects of Connecticut. Part VI. The Diptera or true flies of Connecticut. Eighth fascicle. Bull. Conn. St. geol. Nat. Hist. Surv. 93: 39-71.

Courtney, G. W. 1991. Phylogenetic analysis of the Blephariceromorpha, with special reference to mountain midges (Diptera: Deuterophlebiidae). Syst. Entomol. 16: 137-172.

Hennig, W. 1973. Diptera (Zweiflügler). pages 1-337, in Helmcke et al. (eds): Handbuch der Zoologie. Eine Naturgeschichte der Stämme des Tierreiches. IV. Band: Arthropoda - 2. Hälfte: Insecta. 2. Teil: Spezielles. 31. Berlin - New York.

Oosterbroek, P. and Courtney, G. W. 1995. Phylogeny of the nematocerous families of Diptera (Insecta). Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 115: 267-311.

Wood, D. M. and Borkent A. 1989. Phylogeny and classification of the Nematocera. pages 1333-1370, in McAlpine, J. F. and Wood, D. M. (eds): Manual of Nearctic Diptera, Volume 3. Research Branch, Agricultural Canada, Ottawa. Agric. Can. Monogr. 32.

Zwick, P. 1977. Australian Blephariceridae (Diptera). Aust. J. Zool. Suppl. 46: 1-121.

Zwick, P. 1981. Blephariceridae. pages 1185-1193 in Keast, A. (ed). Ecological biogeography of Australia. Dr. W. Junk Publishers, The Hague.

© 2001 Iowa State University Entomology Department. Last modified January 2, 2001.