Minute to small (0.9 to 7.0 mm.) flies, black or gray.Wings sometimes patterned. Costa with two interruptions in first section (near the humeral cross-vein and again near the end of vein 1.Second basal cell not separated from discal cell.Arista bare or with hairs on the upper side (plumose on the upper side).Mouth opening very large in some species.Ratio of vertical diameter of eye and height of gena (face index) widely used in identification of species.
In the subfamily Notiphilinae the head is reduced to a cephalic skeleton, there are no anterior spiracles and the posterior spiracles are extended as spines. The other subfamilies have larvae similar to the Sciomyzidae, with the posterior spiracles at the apices of divergent branches from a common base. They may be differentiated by short thoracic segments (like the abdominal ones) and by the absence of a ventral arch linking the mouth hooks.
Andersson, H. (1971), The European species of Limnellia (Dipt., Ephydridae). Entomologica Scandinavica 2: 53–59.Key to European species.
Becker, T. (1926), Ephydridae. 56a. In: Lindner, E. (Ed.). Die Fliegen der palaearktischen Region 6: 1–115. Keys to Palaearctic species but now needs revision (in German).
Canzoneri, S. & Meneghini, D. (1983), Ephydridae e Canaceidae. Fauna d’Italia XX.Revision of the Italian species for these two families (in Italian).
Mathis, W.N. & Zatwarnicki, T. (1990), A revision of the western Palaearctic species of Athyroglossa (Diptera: Ephydridae). Transactions of the American Entomological Society 116: 103–133. Revision of the West Palaearctic species of the genus.
E.P. Narchuk Family Ephydridae in Bei-Bienko, G. Ya, 1988 Keys to the insects of the European Part of the USSR Volume 5 (Diptera) Part 2 English edition.
Zatwarnicki, T. (1997), Ephydridae. In: Nilsson, A. (Ed.) Aquatic Insects of North Europe (A Taxonomic Handbook). Apollo Books, Stenstrup, Denmark. Includes a key (in English) to the genera.
Ephydridae occupy a diverse array of seashore and wetland habitats including hot springs, petroleum pools, salt pools, alkaline lakes, marshes. Imago phytophagous, sometimes feeds on microscopic algae and bacteria (Paracoenia, Ephydra), or predatory (Ochthera, Ephydrinae). As larvae, many are phytophagous, grazing on aquatic plants (including cultivated rice), others are algal grazers or saprophagous. Larvae of Trimerina are predatory. Some species are an important food source for other animals. Others cause damage to agricultural crops.
Larvae of some Ephydridae live in very unusual habitats. For example, Ephydra brucei lives in hot springs and geysers where the water temperature exceeds 45 degrees Celsius; some Scatella live in hot sulphur springs; Helaeomyia petrolei develops in pools of crude oil; and Ephydra cinera, the brine fly proper, in pools with very high concentrations of salt. Some have public health significance being associated with sewage filter beds and septic tanks. Flies develop in moist soils or mine leaves of aquatic, subaquatic, and rarely dry soil (Hydrellia) plants. Flies are found near water along coasts, among aquatic vegetation and sometimes on water surfaces (Ephydra).
^McAlpine, J.F. 1989. Chapter 116. Phylogeny and classification of the Muscomorpha. In Manual of Nearctic Diptera. Vol. 3. Coordinated by J.F. McAlpine and D.M. Wood. Agriculture Canada Monograph, 32. pp. 1397–1518.
^David Grimald, 1990 A phylogenetic, revised classification of genera in the Drosophilidae (Diptera) Bulletin of American Museum of Natural History 1971-139