What insect do you picture when you hear the word “fly?” A few familiar species may come to mind, yet flies represent one of the most biodiverse groups of animals on Earth. According to The Smithsonian, “there are more than 110,000 described species of flies in the world.”
“One family,” Dr. Adrian Smith notes, “the gall midges, which you’ll see a bit later, is thought to be home to a million undescribed species. But even this common housefly, when I see it flying at 8,000 frames per second, is astonishing.”
How do you identify a fly? Look at this cheese fly‘s halteres, tiny “hind wings that have evolved to be flapping gyroscopes. Noticing them is one of the ways you can tell a fly apart from things like bees or wasps,” Smith notes.
Examples include the cheese fly, the blow fly, the robber fly, the thick-headed fly, a crane fly, the non-biting midge, a tiny gall midge and larva, a hover fly (below), soldier flies, the fungus gnat, the dark-winged fungus gnat, the lauxaniid fly, the picture-winged fly, and a black onion fly.
Based at Smith’s Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Research Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, Ant Lab specializes in up-close slow-motion films of lesser-known insects. Follow Ant Lab on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Then enjoy more videos about insects, including:
• Moths and Beetles: 12 species in slow-motion flight
• Do dragonflies see in slow motion?
• Incredibly detailed insect portraits by Levon Biss
• Plants and Insects Magnified Thousands of Times
• A simple way to tell insects apart: Look at their mouthparts
Bonus: What qualifies as a “bug”?