Tabanidae Click to enlarge image
March fly (Family Tabanidae). Image: Bruce Hulbert
© Bruce Hulbert

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Family
    Tabanidae
    Super Family
    Tabanomorpha
    Order
    Diptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    3 cm

Introduction

March flies are ferocious biters.

Habitat

March flies live around freshwater creeks, intertidal estuaries and mangroves.

Distribution

March flies are found throughout Australia.

Feeding and diet

As with most biting flies, it is only the female march flies that bite as they need blood to produce the next generation. They use their strong, piercing mouthparts like a needle to extract blood from their mammal hosts. The males have larger metallic green eyes and feed on nectar.

The maggot larvae are quite aggressive and efficient predators too. They have sharp mandibles (mouthparts) and inject their prey with venom. The venom immobilises the prey almost instantly and helps to liquefy the tissues, which are then sucked out, leaving just an empty skin. The prey is usually the larvae of other insects, however they are also known to be cannibalistic. March fly larvae can bite if handled.