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Temporal range: Ypresian - Present
Verrallia aucta.jpg
Verrallia aucta, Chalarinae
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Superfamily: Syrphoidea
Family: Pipunculidae
  • Dorilaidae
  • Dorylaidae

Pipunculidae is a family of flies (Diptera) commonly termed big-headed flies, a reference to the large (holoptic) eyes, which cover nearly the entire head. The family is found worldwide and more than 1300 species have been described.

The larvae of Pipunculidae develop as parasitoids almost exclusively in Auchenorrhyncha, the exception being the genus Nephrocerus, whose hosts are adult Tipulidae (crane flies). The larvae develop rapidly within the crane flies before pupating in the soil.[1] In all pipunculids there are only two larval stages. Some species are used as biological control agents in rice fields.


Taxonomy as shown at the Tree of life,[2] with modification based on Kehlmaier, Dierick and Skevington (2014).[3]

Subfamily Chalarinae

Subfamily Nephrocerinae

Subfamily Protonephrocerinae

Subfamily Pipunculinae


See also[edit]

List of British Pipunculidae


  1. ^ Koenig, D.P. & C.W. Young. (January 2007). "First observation of parasitic relations between bigheaded flies of the genus Nephrocerus (Diptera: Pipunculidae) and crane flies of the genus Tipula (Diptera: Tupulidae: Tipulinae), with larval and puparial descriptions of Nephrocerus atrapilus Skevington". Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. Washington DC: Allen Press/The Entomological Society of Washington. 109 (1): 52–65. ISSN 0013-8797.
  2. ^ Pipunculidae at the Tree of life
  3. ^ Kehlmaier, C; Dierick, M; Skevington, JH (2014). "Micro-CT studies of amber inclusions reveal internal genitalic features of big-headed flies, enabling a systematic placement of Metanephrocerus Aczel, 1948 (Insecta: Diptera: Pipunculidae)". Arthropod Systematics & Phylogeny. 72 (1): 23–36.

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