Economic Importance Injurious Families

Several families of Diptera are of major economic importance and involved in the transmission of more disease pathogens to humans and other animals than any other group of arthropods. Biting flies cause annoyance that impacts tourism, recreation, land development, and industrial and agricultural production, whereas their effects on livestock can cause reduced milk, egg, and meat production.

The adults have mouthparts that have very effective piercing stylets, enabling these flies to "bite" and suck blood. Some major families with this characteristic include members of Simuliidae (Fig. 28), Culicidae (Fig. 29), Psychodidae (Fig. 30), Ceratopogonidae, Tabanidae (Fig. 31), and the blood-sucking Muscidae (Figs. 32 and 33). The bites from these groups can often cause severe allergic reactions, resulting in intense itching, rashes, and local swelling or, in some instances, hospitalization as a consequence of toxemia or anaphylactic shock.

Some of the major human and other animal diseases resulting from the transmission of causative organisms by Diptera include human onchocerciasis (river blindness) by Simuliidae; leishmaniasis (sand fly fever) by phlebotomine sand flies belonging to the family Psychodidae; several protozoan and viral diseases of domestic and wild animals, poultry, and waterfowl by Simuliidae and Ceratopogonidae; malaria, yellow fever, filariasis, dengue, dog heartworm, the encephalitides, and related viral diseases by Culicidae; and tularemia and animal trypanosomiases by Tabanidae. Several other species belong to the blood-sucking muscoid flies and include the tsetse fly of Africa, responsible for transmitting the pathogen causing human sleeping sickness, and the stable fly (Muscidae) (Fig. 32), whose vicious bites can annoy humans in recreational areas, and bother domestic animals such as

Injurious Domestic Animals

FIGURES 32-35 (32) Female stable fly adult (Muscidae: Stomoxys calcitrans) taking a blood meal. (Photograph by E. Hansens.) (33) Horn flies (Muscidae: Haematobia irritans) resting and feeding on the back of a bull. (Photograph by R. W. Merritt.) (34) Adult male midge (Chironomidae). (Photograph by R. F. Harwood.) (35) Adult blow flies (Calliphoridae: Phaenicia sericata) on a pig. (Photograph by M. J. Higgins.)

FIGURES 32-35 (32) Female stable fly adult (Muscidae: Stomoxys calcitrans) taking a blood meal. (Photograph by E. Hansens.) (33) Horn flies (Muscidae: Haematobia irritans) resting and feeding on the back of a bull. (Photograph by R. W. Merritt.) (34) Adult male midge (Chironomidae). (Photograph by R. F. Harwood.) (35) Adult blow flies (Calliphoridae: Phaenicia sericata) on a pig. (Photograph by M. J. Higgins.)

horses, cattle, and sheep. The horn fly (Muscidae) (Fig. 33) is a well-established biting cattle pest throughout many tropical and temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, whereas its close muscoid relative, the buffalo fly, is particularly important to cattle and dairy industries of Australia.

In addition to the biting habits and disease agent transmission of the above groups, flies can cause annoyance and interference with human comfort. Members of the genus Hippelates in the family Chloropidae are referred to as "eye gnats" because they frequently are attracted to the eyes of the victim, feed on secretions, and may assist in the entrance for pathogenic organisms. A muscoid fly having similar habits, known as the "face fly," has been associated with the transmission of "pink eye" to cattle. Several other species of muscoid flies (e.g., house fly, bush fly, latrine fly) generally breed in excrement and at times can be economically important pests of humans and/or domestic animals. Two families of Diptera that can cause annoyance and constitute a nuisance by their sheer numbers emerging from ponds and lakes are the Chironomidae (nonbiting midges) (Fig. 34) and the Chaoboridae (chaoborid gnats). These are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes (Culicidae), but do not bite. When one encounters swarms of these midges or gnats, it is difficult to keep them out of one's eyes or avoid inhaling them.

The dipteran families Calliphoridae (blow flies) (Fig. 35) and Sarcophagidae (flesh flies) (Fig. 36) are the major producers of myiasis, i.e., the infestation of organs and tissues of humans or other animals by fly maggots. The larvae of these groups feed on necrotic tissue and may accidently be ingested or invade wounds of humans and domestic animals, causing severe discomfort and subsequent secondary infections. The primary and secondary screwworm flies (Calliphoridae)

FIGURES 36-39 (36) Adult flesh fly (Sarcophagidae). (Photograph by R. W. Merritt.) (37) Secondary screwworms (Calliphoridae: Cochlimyia macelleria) on a pig. (Photograph by M. J. Higgins.) (38) Horse bot fly larvae (Oestridae: Gasterophilus intestinalis) attached to the stomach of a horse. (Photograph by R. W. Merritt.) (39) Human bot fly larvae (Oestridae: Dermatobia hominus) under the hide of an ox in Costa Rica. (Photograph by L. Green.)

FIGURES 40-43 (40) Cecidomyiid gall on grape leaves. (Photograph by R. Isaacs.) (41) Hessian fly (Cecidomyiidae: Mayetiola destructor). (42) Cherry fruit fly adults (Tephritidae: Rhagoletis cingulata) on cherry. (Photographs by Department of Entomology, Michigan State University.) (43) Onion maggot adult (Anthomyiidae: Delia antiqua). (Photograph by J. Spencer.)

FIGURES 36-39 (36) Adult flesh fly (Sarcophagidae). (Photograph by R. W. Merritt.) (37) Secondary screwworms (Calliphoridae: Cochlimyia macelleria) on a pig. (Photograph by M. J. Higgins.) (38) Horse bot fly larvae (Oestridae: Gasterophilus intestinalis) attached to the stomach of a horse. (Photograph by R. W. Merritt.) (39) Human bot fly larvae (Oestridae: Dermatobia hominus) under the hide of an ox in Costa Rica. (Photograph by L. Green.)

(Fig. 37) are attracted to the wounds and sores of animals, and the former was one of the most serious pests of livestock in the United States until it was eradicated through the sterile male release program. In recent times, the identification and aging of the larvae of some species of blow (Calliphoridae) and flesh flies (Sarcophagidae) have proved useful in establishing the time of death in forensic investigations.

One other family, the Oestridae (cattle, sheep, horse, human, and rodent bot flies), is involved in enteric myiasis of animals and sometimes humans. Damage caused by horse bots (Gasterophilus spp.) (Fig. 38) varies from violent reactions by horses due to the flies ovipositing, to irritation by larvae when burrowing into the oral tissue and susequent interference with digestion. The larvae of cattle grubs (Hypoderma spp.) migrate through the host's body and eventually reach the upper back where they cut a small opening in the hide and remain there for some time. Economic losses in cattle result from reduction in milk production, weight loss, and damage to hides. Another species of bot fly, the human bot or torsalo (Dermatobia hominis), is common in parts of Mexico and Central and South America. It parasitizes a wide range of hosts, including humans, but is a more serious pest of cattle and oxen in these areas (Fig. 39).

Several families of Diptera are economically important to agriculture. The Cecidomyiidae or gall gnats "sting" the plant and make it grow a "gall home" for them (Fig. 40), within which they find not only shelter but also adequate and abundant food. Examples are the goldenrod ball gall and the pine cone gall. Some very destructive species in this family, such as the Hessian fly (Fig. 41), chrysanthemum gall midge, and wheat, pear, and cloverseed midge, feed on cultivated crops and do not always form galls. The Tephritidae, or fruit

FIGURES 40-43 (40) Cecidomyiid gall on grape leaves. (Photograph by R. Isaacs.) (41) Hessian fly (Cecidomyiidae: Mayetiola destructor). (42) Cherry fruit fly adults (Tephritidae: Rhagoletis cingulata) on cherry. (Photographs by Department of Entomology, Michigan State University.) (43) Onion maggot adult (Anthomyiidae: Delia antiqua). (Photograph by J. Spencer.)

flies, contain some species whose larvae bore into the stems of plants; some produce galls, others are leaf miners, and most important of all are those that bore into the flesh of fruits and vegetables. The latter include some of the most important of all economic insects, specifically the apple maggot, cherry fruit flies (Fig. 42), walnut husk fly, and Mexican, Mediterranean, oriental, olive, and melon fruit flies. The Anthomyiidae, or root maggot flies, have larvae that feed on decaying vegetable matter from which a number have adopted the habit of attacking the roots of vegetables. These include the cabbage maggot, onion maggot (Fig. 43), seed corn maggot, and spinach leafminer. Larvae of the family Agromyzidae are known as leafminers and feed between the leaf surfaces, leaving light-colored, narrow, winding mines or large blotches that decrease photosynthesis and make produce unsalable. The leaves are weakened and the mines promote disease and decay.

Beneficial Families

The Diptera contain several families that can be considered beneficial to humans and their environment. First, and most important, is the role of all Diptera in food chains in nature. Groups such as Culicidae, Chironomidae, and Simuliidae occur in large numbers as larvae and adults and provide a major prey base for many other invertebrates as well as vertebrates such as fish, birds, bats, and amphibians. In turn, several families contain predators and parasitoids as larvae and adults, including the Asilidae, Empididae, Dolichopodidae, Syrphidae, and Tachinidae. Many families are important decomposers and recyclers of decaying organic matter of different types. Examples include the Psychodidae, Tipulidae, Stratiomyiidae, Mycetophilidae, Sciaridae, Sepsidae, Coleopidae, Muscidae, Calliphoridae, Sarcophagidae, Phoridae, Syrphidae, and Sphaeroceridae. Some Diptera are important pollinators of flowers and include some species of Syrphidae, Bombyliidae, and even adult male Culicidae who visit flowers to imbibe nectar.

Some families of aquatic Diptera have been important in water quality and bioassessment studies to classify the degree of pollution in a water body. For example, larvae belonging to the midge genus Chironomus in the family Chironomidae have been referred to as blood worms because of the hemoglobin in their blood. These and another group known as the "rat-tailed maggots" (Syrphidae: Eristalis) are often used as indicators of polluted water or water low in oxygen. The presence of Simulidae in a stream generally indicates clean well-aerated water. The Culicidae and Chironomidae have members that are associated with both polluted and clean water habitats. Finally, some Diptera have been the subject of study for scientists throughout the world. For example, chironomid midges are used in acute and chronic laboratory toxicity studies to compare toxicants and the factors affecting toxicity and to ultimately predict the environmental effects of the toxicant. The small fruit fly, Drosophila (Drosophilidae) (Fig. 44), has been the organism of choice in most genetic studies for years and has contributed significantly to studies ranging from neurobiology to evolutionary theory. Overall, the Diptera represent an order containing a variety of species that are economically very beneficial and equally injurious to humans.

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  • fre-weini
    What is economic importance of oestridae?
    3 years ago
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    What is the economic importance of maggot?
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