Muscidae is a family of flies found in the superfamily Muscoidea. The apical segment of the antennae of Muscidae are plumose, and the basal portion is smooth.

Muscidae, some of which are commonly known as house flies or stable flies due to their synanthropy, are worldwide in distribution and contain almost 4,000 described species in over 100 genera.

Most species are not synanthropic. Adults can be predatory, hematophagous, saprophagous, or feed on a number of types of plant and animal exudates. They can be attracted to various substances including sugar, sweat, tears and blood. Larvae occur in various habitats including decaying vegetation, dry and wet soil, nests of insects and birds, fresh water, and carrion.

The housefly, Musca domestica, is the best known and most important species.

Identifying characteristics for the family Muscidae

Antennae 3-segmented, aristate; vein Rs 2-branched, frontal suture present, calypters well developed. Arista usually plumose for the entire length. Hypopleuron usually without bristles; generally more than one sternopleural bristle. R5 cell either parallel sided or narrowed distally. Vein 2A short and not reaching wing margin.

For a pictorial atlas explaining these terms go to

The Fanniidae , which used to be a sub-family (Fanniinae) of the Muscidae share these characters, but may be separated from them by the absence of the identifying characteristics for the family Fanniidae.

  1. Key to the Calyptrate families
  2. Useful site for diagnostic features. In easily understood French


Larvae mainly breed in decaying plant material or manure.

Association with disease

Adults of many species passively vector pathogens for diseases such as typhoid fever, dysentery, anthrax, and African sleeping sickness.


Seven species in 6 described genera have been recorded from the fossil record. Lambrecht (1980: 369) estimated that the family Muscidae originated as long ago as the Permian , although no fossil record exists for the family any older than the Eocene.

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Further reading

  • Identification
    • Hennig, W. (1955-64). Muscidae in Erwin Lindner , Die Fliegen der Paläarktischen Region 63b,Schweizerbart,Stuttgart.
    • Huckett, H.C. 1965. The Muscidae of northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland (Diptera). Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada 42: 1-369. 23 plates of drawings.
    • Séguy, E., 1937, Diptera, family Muscidae. In: P. Wystmann (ed.), Genera Insectorum, Brussels, 205: 604. Includes a key to world genera.
    • Shinonaga, S. & Kano, R.,, 1971, Fauna Japonica Muscidae (Insecta:Diptera) ,Academia press,242pp.+28Plates. Keys to Eastern Palaearctic genera of several subfamilies.
  • Gregor, Fr. et al., 2002 The Muscidae (Diptera) of Central Europe, Brno, Folia Biologia, 107.
  • Biology
  • Use of DNA in forensic entomology
    • Skidmore, P., 1985, The biology of the Muscidae of the world. Junk, Dordrecht. Series entomologica, 29, xiv + 550p.

Species lists


Types in Humboldt Museum, Berlin

External links

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