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 Major Groups | Insecta (insects) | Diptera (true flies) | Tabanidae


Major Group: Insecta

Descriptive Features:

  • head capsule weakly sclerotized and retractile
  • maxillary palps and antenna distinguishable
  • mandibles usually with hooked apical tooth and lacking inner teeth
  • body relatively soft
  • abdomen 8-segmented
  • terminal fissure vertical
  • posterior spiracles close together and lying concealed within terminal fissure of the anal segment 
  • Total length: up to 50mm

      Tabanidae preserved larva


      Tabanidae live larva

      Taxonomic Checklist: Subfamilies Genera
          *Lilaea 7 species
          *Phibalomyia carteri Taylor
          *Pseudopangonia australis Ricardo
          *Pseudotabanus 24 species
          *Rhigioglossa 3 species
          Chrysops australis Ricardo
         *Austroplex 3 species
         *Caenoprosopon 5 species
         *Ectenopsis 11 species
         *Scaptia 69 species
         *Therevopangonia insolita Mackerras
          *Anabasis postica Wiedemann
          *Cydistomorpha 6 species
          *Cydistomyia 22 species
          *Dasybasis 36 species
          *Dolichapha3 species
          *Lissimas australis Ricardo
          *Mackerrasus 2 species
          *Parabasis 5 species
          *Plesiobasis 2 species
          *Sznablius 5 species
          Tabanus 24 species
         *not sure if aquatic

      Distribution: Australia wide

      Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 3

      Functional Feeding Group: predators


      Darling River at Burtundy, NSW

      Ecology: Tabanid adults are commonly known as ‘March flies’.
      Instream habitat:
      Larvae usually occur in shallow muddy regions of ponds and lakes or swampy areas, but are also found on or near the surface of clear moderately deep pools, among submerged vegetation or near the banks.
      Feeding ecology:
      Larvae are predators of invertebrates such as oligochaetes and insects including other tabanid larvae.
      Habit: Larvae do not swim well, instead they crawl along the substratum and burrow into muddy sediment. Adults are good fliers.
      Life history: Females lay eggs one at a time alongside one another, sometimes attached to a twig or leaf hanging above the water or amongst floating vegetation in open swamps, in the mud of rivers, in damp soil and amongst rotting vegetation. Complete egg masses contain 250-700 eggs which hatch within six to seven days. At hatching, larvae break free of the egg sac and drop down onto the water surface, where some species remain on the surface film and others seek cover within algal matts or vegetation. The first instar is complete within six hours of hatching and the second within 14-21 days. The full growing period for larvae lasts just over three months and includes between six and nine instars. When the larvae are fully grown, feeding ceases and they move to dry soil, where they bury themselves for a pre-pupal period lasting 54-65 days. The pupal stage lasts seven to 24 days. The duration of the life cycle is variable, with some species completing it within a year where other species will take four years. Adults usually emerge after rain and most species are only seen for about a month with peak activity during the summer months. Mating between males and females occurs near water.


      Information Sources: Mackerras 1960, 1971, Colless & McAlpine 1991, Hawking & Smith 1997, Elliot 2005, Williams 1980, Wade et al. 2004, Merritt & Cummins 1996
      Key to subfamilies: none
      Key to Tribes: Mackerras 1971 (Tabaninae)
      Key to Genera: none
      Key to Species:  none