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; order Diptera, suborder Cyclorrapha)

One of the largest dipteran families, whose members are quite distinctive. They are moderate to large, often brightly coloured flies, in which the outer edge of the wing has an inner margin formed by connections between the outer wing veins. The antenna has a dorsal arista in almost all species. Adults may be striped, spotted, or banded with yellow and black, giving them a passing resemblance to wasps. Others are hairy and dark-coloured, and in many respects resemble bees. The name ‘hoverfly’ refers to their ability to hover in midair over a flower or mate. The larvae fall into three broad groups, and may be: (a) phytophagous, often feeding on roots, or inside plants; (b) carnivorous, perhaps best known as voracious feeders on aphids, for which they are of great economic value, but some species also eat other insect larvae; or (c) scavengers and detritus feeders, in mud, hymenopteran nests, or in decaying plant material. More than 5000 species have been described.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.

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